Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Aquaman: Andromeda #1 Review

"Ever We Seek To Drown Our Sins"

Written by: Ram V
Art by: Christian Ward
Colors by: Christian Ward
Letters by: Aditya Bidikar
Cover art by: Christian Ward
Cover price: $6.99
Release date: June 7, 2022

Aquaman: Andromeda #1 imagines an alternate world where the Justice League doesn't exist, and Aquaman is only a myth whispered among a remote few. Now, imagine an alien object crashes in a remote part of the ocean, and a military team is sent to investigate.

Aquaman: Andromeda #1, true to the historic intentions of the Black Label line, sits firmly outside of any continuity for what's happening with DC at the moment to explore a world that seems to know nothing of superheroes, much less the half-breed King of Atlantis. A (suspected) alien object crashes in the ocean with unknown intent, but the situation becomes mighty dangerous when a research team's sub and their military escort ship are met with monsters from the deep, called by the alien object. Is it a case of miscommunication or hostile designs? Who knows, but it's certainly dark and dangerous.

The high point of this issue is the central premise and the tone. Ram V leans into the horror in this outing. Everything - from the plot to the tone to the mood - is draped around this issue like an inescapable net of gloomy dread. Even the air in this issue is as oppressive as the weight of the ocean at five thousand feet below the murky depths. On that count, Ram V succeeds by creating a striking, memorable mood.

Ward's art has its pluses, as well, with unique character designs for the aquatic wildlife, space age-ish setting for the advanced sub, and Aquaman's unique costume that looks like a cross between his traditional outfit, corral, and plant life. When you get a good look at the outfit, it's unlike anything we've seen before.

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However, the down points are evident in both the writing and the art. Starting with the art, Ward's color selections are dark and drab, almost to the point of muddiness in a few spots. Visually, this is largely a dreary-looking book that waffles between dark blues and dark greens. Coupled with the depressing color palette is an odd inconsistency in the linework. Sometimes, the lines pop with surprising detail. In other panels, scenes look slapdash and unfinished. If the internal pages consistently reflected the art on the cover, this would be a very different critique, but what you get is a loose, cheap approximation of the cover art.

The down point in the writing is Ram V's over-bloated, flowery, excessively pompous narration and dialog. Imagine reading a sci-fi, underwater, horror story where all the characters talk with the same voice, and that voice sounds like an 18th-Century English novelist describing the philosophical, existential importance of the ocean. For example, here are samples of dialog from three separate characters:

A poor, Biscay Bay fisherman describes the sea: "In her embrace, ever we seek to drown our sins but beware the shapes of forgotten things."

An old woman living in a Russian fishing village: "You come here in secret to toil among us -- ordinary and anonymous, hiding from the eyes in the world beyond our lands, unknown to them. You long to live in the light but you know that you must return to who you truly are."

A Serbian Spec-Ops soldier: "Sometimes events are of such magnitude that we become spectators of our own existence. What agency do we have in the face of such terrifying beauty?"

Now, imagine reading a 40+ page comic where every character talks just like that, and you get the gist. The net effect is a ponderous read where you're checking watch every five pages or so. It's not exactly captivating reading for a $6.99 cover price.

About The Reviewer: Gabriel Hernandez is the Publisher & EIC of ComicalOpinions.com, a comics review site dedicated to indie, small, and mid-sized publishers.Follow ComicalOpinions on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

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Bits and Pieces:

Aquaman: Andromeda #1 is an interesting premise about a horror from space crashing in the ocean with only the King of Atlantis to stop whatever horror is coming. The character, vessel, and creature designs are cool, and there's plenty of moody mystery to build tension. However, the line work ranges from detailed to unfinished, the color palette is mostly dark and drab, and the writing is pretentiously bloated throughout the dialog and narration.


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