In Water, No One Can Hear You Scream (Except for Aquaman)
Cover:Brad Walker, Andrew Hennesy & Gabe Eltaeb
On Sale Date: March 15, 2017
**NON SPOILERS AND SCORE AT THE BOTTOM**
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 Rebirthis 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!
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.