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Aquaman #2

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Aquaman #2

Credits

  • Words: Geoff Johns
  • Art: Ivan Reis
  • Inks: Joe Prado
  • Colors: Ivan Reis
  • Story Title: The Trench Part Two
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Oct 26, 2011

Aquaman tries to talk to fish that only want to fight back in the entertaining relaunch of an otherwise waterlogged hero.

The Trench have made their way to shore, and it's up to Aquaman and Mera to save the coast, whether its citizens want them to or not. Reworking the ocean adventurer into a besieged landlubber is the task of Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis as part of the New 52, and the previous issue focused largely on Aquaman's status in the world. Can the second issue give him a good battle?

For a book that's all about reinventing Aquaman and Mera, it sure is taking its time getting to define his role in The New 52. One-third of his titular book doesn't even feature Aquaman, and while it's setting up the new villain sect of the Trench, there's no real defining elements of these water-wading villains.

If the purpose of these pages is to make the Trench into fearsome foes or modern interpretations of The Creature From the Black Lagoon (which is doing much better in Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.), it succeeds, but at best, they come off as Sleestacks from Land of the Lost. Intimidating, terrifying, mindless, and personality-free, they lack the intimidating history of the Daleks and the rock-hard nature of the Putty Patrollers.

The greatest threat comes from their numbers, strength, and viciousness, but it seems that they're more befuddling to Aquaman in motives, which boil down to hunger. There's a reason that Lex Luthor is a greater foe to Superman than Mongul; a battle of wits will always be more interesting than a battle of strength, even if the latter works better in a visual medium such as comic books and movies.

Beyond the villains, Aquaman remains much like the first issue, defined by everyone around him, but not defining himself. The much-commented jokes from the first issue about him needing water or talking to fish come back in lesser numbers, but the jokes about Aquaman's tropes still remain. If Aquaman's character is revised for The New 52, it's begrudging superhero; everyone hates or mocks him, but he's the only one that can do the job.

On that token, Johns and Reis are the best crew to do the job. Johns revels in finding out what makes a character work in the modern age, and Reis' pencils are impressive, from the malevolent Trench to Mera's beautiful water-crafted mermaid. Together, Aquaman seems genuinely nice but put upon, strong and heroic but curious and caring. It's a redefinition of a character that has long since been defined as gritty warlord or goofy one-note ancillary. Still, the fight is too quick and too late; the book is a great character piece on Aquaman so far, and would almost work as a romance/comedy if you stripped the action elements from it. While the issue does feature a battle (as much as the first issue featured Aquaman stopping a heist), it feels too easily that Johns, like his work in Justice League, is writing for the larger arc, not the issue.

Two issues in, and Aquaman's stopped a truck and fought a fish man. Maybe the average joe is right in saying he's a loser; when we get a chance to look behind the scenes, we get to see how interesting or entertaining this revision is, but on the outside, Aquaman's not doing much.

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