Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Aquamen #3 Review

Aquamen? More Like Aqua-Meh.

Written by: Brandon Thomas, Chuck Brown
Art by: Max Raynor
Colors by: Hi-Fi
Letters by: Andworld Design
Cover art by: Travis Moore, Adriano Lucas
Cover price: $3.99
Release date: April 26, 2022

Aquamen #3 follows Jackson Hyde as he uses his ill-gotten intel to track down the mastermind behind the sleeper cell activations. Meanwhile, Mera pays a visit to Mars to learn the truth behind Arthur's recent visit.

Was It Good?

Aquamen #3 is, in a word, underwhelming. Thomas and Brown are doing their best (I hope) to create an epic story involving the Aquamen to bring about a new status quo. But, unfortunately, the developments that hit hard are strange, the developments that don't hit are... also weird, and the big reveal of the mastermind behind the whole arc doesn't feel that big at all. In other words, the Big Bad's big reveal turns out to be a "that's it?" moment.

Before we get into the writing, let's cover the art. It's good to great. Raynor has a good eye for action, striking colors, and excellent lettering. Visually, there's nothing to complain about in the art department.

The story isn't terrible, but it is underwhelming, and it feels like Thomas and Brown don't have a handle on delivering a dramatic punch.
Jackson heads off to Gotham to find the supposed mastermind after torturing Orm for the information (Yes, I said torture. Read the last issue's review for more). There are no consequences for Orm's treatment, and nobody seems shocked or even troubled by what Jackson's done. When Jackon arrives in Gotham to track down the lead, he takes a side trip to assist with a building fire. When all the citizens are safe, Jackson is approached by Batwoman as she makes the connection between Jackson's arrival and a handful of citizens going crazy while speaking the Atlantean dialect.

This is the second issue this week where Batwoman is suddenly brought in to assist, and Batman is nowhere to be found. See our review of Harley Quinn #14 for more. Perhaps a pattern is emerging.

Meanwhile, Mera goes to Mars to meet Dr. Frankenstein to ask about Arthur's behavior during his recent visit. There, Mera learns that Arthur only spent a few hours helping Frankenstein, and the rest of his time was spent doing something else. When Mera later confronts Arthur, we learn his memory hasn't fully returned after his resurrection, and he lied to Mera about it... for some reason. This entire sequence plays out logically but poorly because Brown and Thomas are trying to build tension between Mera and Arthur for no apparent reason. There's no reason for Arthur to lie to Mera about his memory loss. The writers spend nearly two issues playing coy with Arthur's whereabouts, but the revelation falls flat. It feels like something that's not a big deal is treated like it is a big deal to generate artificial drama.

Jackson and Kate finally get to their final destination. They learn the Big Bad behind the entire plot to activate Atlantean sleeper cells and kill the Aquamen is... Scavenger wearing an upgraded power suit.

Activation of sleeper cells that go crazy, a tidal wave that floods the UN and kills hundreds or thousands of NY citizens, Arthur's mysterious absence, and Jackson's increasingly erratic and criminal behavior all boil down to Scavenger with a basement basic motivation to kill Aquaman. Again, that's it?

Make sure to listen to our Weekly DC Comics Recap and Review Podcast to hear us talk more about this book.  Just look up "Weird Science DC Comics" anywhere you listen to podcasts, and make sure to rate, review, and subscribe!

Bits and Pieces:

Aquamen #3 starts to fill in the puzzle pieces behind the sleeper cell activations and the looming disaster to follow. Each page is filled with great action and generally good art. Every reveal and plot development generates as much excitement as a lead balloon. However, it's hard not to shrug and move on when the Big Bad is revealed to be a C-list Aquaman villain.


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