Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Aquaman #19 Review and **SPOILERS**

In Water, No One Can Hear You Scream (Except for Aquaman)

Writer: Dan Abnett 
Artist: Philippe Briones 
Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb 
Letterer: Pat Brosseau 
Cover: Brad Walker, Andrew Hennesy & Gabe Eltaeb 
Cover Price: $2.99
On Sale Date: March 15, 2017


Site overlord and podcast taskmaster Jim Werner issued a teaser recording on his feed this past Sunday morning advertising a forthcoming New 52 podcast. He suggests, and rightly so, that Rebirth is not a full reboot, so many that jumped on in June 2016 might be curious about storylines stemming from the New 52. That couldn’t be exemplified more in this issue of Aquaman, which literally continues the storyline from just before Rebirth. And you know what? I wasn’t reading Aquaman then! Am I able to follow along? Generally speaking, no. But maybe this time I paid reasonable attention!

Explain It!

After Major Rhonda Ricoh, aka “Great White,” of the U.S. Aquamarines showed up on Aquaman’s lighthouse doorstep at the end of last issue, Aquaman, Mera, and the rest of the ‘Quamarines are on their way to Cape Valez in the Gulf of Mexico in order to follow up on some Strange Water. This storyline is apparently a holdover from the last issues of the New 52, when I wasn’t reading Aquaman (I read the first arc that began in 2011, thought it was okay.)
Seems that this Strange Water turned a fella named Jonah Payne into a horrifying sea monster that killed and maimed everyone involved in an illegal salvage operation. The guy that orchestrated said operation is named Mortimer, and he was scarred and crippled for life—indeed, it was his just having come out of a coma that brought Aquaman and the ‘Quamarines to the Gulf—oh, we might as well reintroduce the Aquamarines while we’re at it. You know Major Ricoh, there’s also Marcel Ollie aka “Stone,” Sergeant Adrian Ballard aka “Octo,” Sergeant Dean Toye aka “Orca,” Specialist Gary Kaleho aka “Lion,” and Specialist Cory Wilks aka “Barracuda.” These guys all hulk up in two stages, the second one being a humanoid fish form related to their code names. Unfortunately, we only get to see them use this ability sparingly which is sort of a rip-off. There are also some other people flitting about this facility, but I’m going to deem them unimportant because they didn’t get cool caption boxes explaining who they are.
So then we get a kind of scene from Aliens, where everyone goes into this abandoned building and hunts around for evidence of Strange Water, or Dead Water, or Waterford crystal. From here it’s a fairly straightforward horror flick: Dead Water leaping out of puddles to murder a black guy while everyone else panics. (The guy that bites it, incidentally, is Specialist Ollie aka "Stone," one of the lamer-looking Aquamarines imo.) Dead Water is eventually able to burst from some jars filled with prehistoric fish specimen dredged up from the salvage operation, which is where the big faceoff between Aquaman, Dead Water, and the remaining ‘Quamarines is about to go down!
I didn’t really do the bulk of this issue justice here: it is a pretty solid read. Dan Abnett’s been really reliable as of late and I am thrilled to see it. There’s a really good interaction between Mera and Aquaman in the beginning, where she points out that the Aquamarines tried to assassinate him a few issues ago (and indeed did kill two other Atlanteans), so maybe he should think twice about partnering with them. When Aquaman points out the diplomatic opportunity being presented here, she resigns to go with him because she’s sort of a busybody that way. This is a great scene because it catches the reader up with current events, shows Mera’s affection for Arthur, and his pressing desire to appear legitimate to America and other land lubbers. Nice job. There are other good exchanges in here that are worth reading as well. So get to it!

Bits and Pieces:

This issue continues a story line left over from the end of the New 52. Not having read those issues, I still found it perfectly easy to follow along and enjoyed the story to boot. Some good dialogue and a crazy-looking monster makes for some decent comic booking. Aquaman has been one of the most consistent titles of Rebirth (after the first arc) and those looking for a steady smile should give it a look.



  1. The writing makes it feel so realistic that you fear of the repercussions especially for the fates of the characters involved. Still weep for Neol and Koah. The fictional part with monsters and super powers also feels real and isn't your trivial action comic strip. Philippe Briones does a fantastic work to encapsulate the story. Aquaman's universe is built on solid ground and keeps growing stronger. It will be a pleasure to see what happened to the fragments of Atlantis like Xebel, Idyllia and how they evolved apart as colonies, find more about their history and culture. So much to explore on dry land and underwater.

  2. Wow Arthur must be the most forgiving king Atlantis has ever had in millennia. To team up with the assassins of your royal council is an act of relenting. How Atlantean subjects will react to such a diplomatic degradation. Arthur must be very desperate to appeal to air breathers. Our current president wouldn't allow for such a cooperation to happen, let alone ask for Atlantean help. Instead he would unleash BP oil hell à la Deepwater Horizon on the enemy.

  3. Umm I enjoyed it. Every time Deadwater pops up can't help but think that's gotta be Aquamans next ability... no not the murdering.

  4. Unfortunately I didn't dig the "shark up" narrative of the Aquamarine gang. Firstly, the whole notion of a animal/human hybridization supersoldier weapons program is horrifying. How many test subjects were aborted? Secondly on a less serious note the "shark up" command by Ricoh just sounded too "flame on" for my liking.

    Arthur is very forgiving and he's a conflicted character. The writing is as usual great with the exception of the Aquamarines. I would have preferred it if they had been annihilated but that's peacemaking and diplomacy for you.