Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Flashback Five on The Aquaman Relaunch

Welcome back to FB5! Last time Matt broke away from the usual "flashback" part of FB5 to bring you a review of The Flash no. 1 from the nu 52 line-up. Now we're going to dive right in to part 2 with a look at Aquaman no. 1!

You know, while I never considered Aquaman to be the coolest of superheroes, I never thought he was this ultimate example lame that everybody seems to really get off on making him out to be. Nor did he really need a lot things to compensate for that in order to make him more "bad ass". Honestly, I prefer him to a jerk like Namor and when Aquaman dropped a whale on the head of "Imprerius Rex", I laughed out loud. If Aquaman had been in his classic costume when it happened, it would have been a perfect moment. Anyway, let's dive into 5 things I liked about Aquaman no.1!

1. The opening sequence. 

Aquaman flipping a truck with crooks making a get-away over his head using his trident is an idea for an action moment so simple yet so cool I really have to wonder why nobody else on an Aquaman book ever attempted it.

2. Ivan Reis. You know, I think Reis might be a better fit for Aquaman than Green Lantern. Something about Reis's style just really brings out the character and his costume. Speaking of his costume out all the pop-collar brigade I think Aquaman is the only hero it really even works for.

Perhaps because aside from the pop-collar no other elements of his look have been screwed with. Just continuing the gold scales up to his neck actually kind of works.

3. The restaurant scene.

I usually do not enjoy a lot of aggressive "meta" going on in comics. One of the many reasons that doesn't appeal to me at all is because it leads to characters in the story world reacting to the fantastic things they encounter like fans sitting around talking on a message board about comics instead of people who are living these events. However, in the instance of this issue I can forgive it because I actually found myself enjoying how it directly tackles all the various pre-conceived notions about Aquaman and lets the character himself answer them. I even liked the biology babble explanation of how the whole "talking to fish" thing actually works. (Hint: Fish can't talk.)

4. The good Geoff Johns is in attendance. The bad Geoff Johns isn't...yet. I'm not a fan of Johns and the reason why is that I've often felt there are two Geoff Johns. One who is a sincere DC superhero fan that has a lot of genuine love for those characters. Then there's this other Geoff Johns who seems like a 14 year-old hyperactive horror movie fan that has decided he wants everything to be blood and gore like a Hellraiser movie regardless of genre or context. Sometimes you get one or the other, or you get both even within the span of a single issue. This time out though, it seems like the good Geoff sent bad Geoff to go get coffee while he wrote the script for the issue. My only quibble is Aquaman having angst about being king and not wanting to go back to Atlantis but I have to wonder if that has something to do with events that will be revealed later on that would have it make a bit more sense.

The issue ends with a shot of an evil humanoid shark creature emerging out of the water and the more skeptical part of me has the sneaking feel that issue 2 is where bad Geoff will show up and the opening page will be an on-camera spread of the creature gnawing on entrails or something.

5. Cover logo. 

Okay, it's just a logo. But We were talking in the comments to another article about how bland a lot of the new 52 logos looked, but I thought this was one of the better ones. Not as good as Aquaman's classic title logo I like that this still has his A symbol and it's not just letters floating sideways looking like they are being sucked up by the top right hand corner of the book.

I think the thing that really strikes me about both of this and The Flash no.1 is that neither of them are making apologies for the character and I can't help but feel so many other books in the 52 line-up basically are on one level or another. Both of these books without gratuity or gimmicks are doing their best to showcase why these characters are cool, making them look good in process with some really appealing superhero artwork. I really wish more of this relaunch was akin to these two issues.

- Matt


JimShelley said...

Yeah, I really liked the Restaurant scene too. (But unlike you, I really enjoy meta commentary in my comics, but I understand why a lot of people don't. It can break you out of the scene if it's too aggressive.

I think you are totally right about the way issue two is going to open up! :D

Pierre Villeneuve said...

Matt; other then agreeing that ivan Reis did a great job on this issue...

I am pretty much at the other end of the spectrum compared to you.

1; Yes Aquaman flipping the truck was awesome... but it was not the opening sequence. It opened with 2 pages that could have easily been done in half a page. 2 pages of black sploshes and some mysterious fish-like thing at the bottom of the ocean. What a waste of space.

2; Agreed.... Ivan Reis is awesome.

3; Not a fan of the meta stuff. Sorry.

4; The bad Johns as you call him did rear his ugly head... notice the blood in the water at the end of the comic. I think that blood and gore will not be far behind in the next issue.

5; Pretty uninspired type with the "Aquaman" symbol behind it.

I am getting tired of these logo... "Lets have some symbol... and let's slap some random lettering on top of it". They could integrate the symbol IN the lettering or something. The two feel very disconnected.

Oh well.

I must admit.... I can't claim to be a fan of Aquaman.

Despite the great artwork... at the end of the day... all Aquaman issue #1 did in my book is remind us that Aquaman is simply the guy who talks to fish.

The cops on the restaurent scene pretty much cemented that in readers mind.... even if it was meant to do the opposite.

The restaurent scene reminded me of JLA Year One when Aquaman is in a Bar and he is shocked to see that they are serving fish.

Here they did the opposite trying to convince us that he actually eats fish... to prove that he is badass... he does not talks to fish.

There was a fun strip about this here;

The only reason I would keep on reading this book is for the awesome artwork on Ivan Reis.

We shall see.

MattComix said...

@Pierre Villeneuve I like Let'sBeFriendsAgain to. As I said in the article I'm usually not a fan of the meta stuff either but I was willing to forgive it here.

Mainly because I think in the case of Aquaman since the "guy who talks to fish" thing has been so aggressively hammered into our into our pop-culture psyche I really can't blame a creator for wanting to just tackle it head on.
Basically going "Yeah, yeah. Guy who talks to fish we know. Shut up and give the character a chance."

I'm not saying Aquaman no. 1 is the most awesome comic ever. Far from it. But out of the first round of nu52 stuff I thought it and Flash worked. But also like I said in the article out of the two Aquaman is the one I expect to quickly fall apart because it seems almost inevitable that badGeoff is gonna take it the horror movie route.

Flash on the other hand I have some hope for.

nude0007 said...

I haven't read he new Aquaman, but your article shows that it does have good art. The costume is not changed much, and definitely not for the worse. The collar neither adds nor detracts to me. Trident? ridiculous to me. It is one of the most awkward and useless weapons.
I have always kinda liked the character of Aquaman, except when they wanted to make him an arrogant, angry, commandant type king. The problem I have always had with him is that for a man to live in the sea like he supposedly does, he would need very large gills, preferably located where our ribcage is and about the same size. He, like most sea creatures, would be covered in some kind of gel-like stuff to aid moving through the water and prevent the skin from wrinkling up and rotting. It would either be this kind of scenario, or some equally non-appealing body alteration to make him able to breathe underwater. Not to mention I can't ever buy the ability to live outside water once he has been the product of enough evolution to live there. So I need some kind of explanation of how this could really work besides just saying it does. I would buy the superman force field explanation easier, but there are other problems with living in water than the ones I have mentioned, like sight and speech, just to name a few more.
I say just get over him and let's see some lady superheroes added to the team. (sorry Arthur)

Pierre Villeneuve said...

Matt; Don't worry about it.

I am just not an Aquaman fan... so I was not really willing to ignore that meta stuff.

In some interviews we have seen Waid and others I fail to recall trying to hard to convince us that Aquaman is cool and that he is much more then the guy who talks to fish.

Sorry... I don't buy it.

And I felt that this issue was falling in the same trap. It was trying to hard to tell us that Aquaman was cool.... that he does not talk to fish.

What worries me is that they wil have him fight aquatic threats month after month after month.

Why not mix and match??

Have him fight aquatic threats... but have him fight Mirror Master, or Captain Cold, or Black Adam once in a while.

Not month after month of Aquaman fighting some fish dude.

In invincible... there is an issue were we see the fish dude (forget is name)on his throne just waiting for something to happen. It was a page that describes Aquaman well in my book.

Maybe I should write a blog about Aquaman??? ;)

Out of the first 52... my favorite is OMAC.

But Aquaman has the strongest artwork of all of them.

Flash... I kind of liked it... but something is bugging me about the new Flash... but I can't quite put my finger on it.

But I am waiting for all the issues #2 before making up my mind about the NEW 52.

But there is a lot I am not crazy about since the relaunch.

But maybe I am too hard on the NEW 52. I am sure that Jim agrees with that one. ;)


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