Why Have Nuclear Weapons if We Can’t Use Them?
Artist: Philippe Briones
Cover:Brad Walker, Andrew Hennesy & Gabe Eltab
On Sale Date: May 3, 2017
**NON SPOILERS AND SCORE AT THE BOTTOM**
Someone needs to write a Gotham Central, but for Atlantis. Stories of the barnacle-encrusted dark underbelly of a water-breathing society of pompous jerks. Tales of the personal lives of the work-a-day citizens of Aquaman’s domain, and the ministrations they endure to eke out a living. You can have that one for free too, DC. I got a million of ‘em. How about this: Warren Ellis can write it. No editorial fee necessary, I peel these ideas off by the dozen. Here’s something else you can have for free, my review of Aquaman#22! Please save your applause for the end.
Having been scared into becoming a Dead Water monster by Mortimer aka Scavenger, there’s only one recourse for Arni: beat the snot out of Morty. I must admit, he’s been so annoying during this Story Arc that it was pretty satisfying to see him get him comeuppance. I mean, I know he was deathly afraid of being assaulted by Dead Water, and here it’s happening, and of course now we know that Dead Waterism is triggered by human fear…oh. Right. That’s going to be an issue. Scared witless himself, Mortimer snaps out and becomes a Dead Water monster himself, bringing the grand total to two Dead Water monsters currently tearing the Gulf Coast Naval Base apart. Recommended number of Dead Water monsters is zero. The Aquamarines have “sharked up,” but they’re getting pretty well housed by these hyper-muscular eel-men, like Dead Water is a minotaur or a centaur except with an eel. Before the Dead Waters can kill every last living thing in the vicinity, Aquaman and Mera come blasting through the wall and drive the monsters off with Mera’s water powers…which seem to be working poorly, for some reason. More on that later, I’m sure.
So the obvious thing to do is use the signal jammer that worked on that guy that Aquamarines killed in cold blood last issue, but the problem is that the signal jammer is broken. A further problem is that Mortimer has set a nuclear bomb to detonate the Naval Base and, optimistically speaking, close off the portal to Strange Water. Another scenario involves spreading Strange Water over a larger radius and worsening the problem. But I don’t have a keen military mind, that’s for sure. They can’t turn off the bomb because Mortimer jammed a screwdriver in the countdown clock, so Aquaman makes a snap decision and grabs the bomb (helpfully contained in a suitcase) then dives back into the breach. And by “the breach” I mean the ocean so he can submerge and blow up that Strange Water portal to another planet’s seas.
Mera says this isn’t very diplomatic of him—he can already communicate poorly with Strange Water, so he should try to reason with it. For instance, he could say, “Hey Water, wanna stop being so fricking Strange?!” Aquaman isn’t hearing it, he’s got to get rid of this nuke and stop Strange Water from turning scared humans into Dead Waters, and it looks like his plan could kill two birds with one stone. Though Mera protests the whole way, even in the Strange Water where they can’t breathe, Aquaman detonates the bomb, hopefully saving the day? Mera saves herself and Arthur using an air bubble constructed at the last second, then later she accuses him of showing off to impress his new American friends. Hey, Americans are easy to impress! Just created a foodstuff bigger than any other example of that foodstuff on earth, and we’ll show up to see it. Dunno what happened to Arni and Mortimer after all of this, but I guess everything is copacetic for now. Also some secret hooded guy wants to release Rath from Atlantean prison, so that’s something to contend with next issue.
Despite this story arc going on an issue or two longer than I might have liked, it still ended kind of flat and nebulously, which is disappointing. I assume this isn’t the last we’ve seen of “H-Two-Point-Oh,” the only name actually sillier than “Strange Water,” but the way this ended was like when I kill a cockroach in my home, and outwardly behave like I’ve eradicated cockroaches for all time in my domicile when in fact I’ve only proven that hundreds of millions of bugs crawling in my walls. And still, the Aquamarines don’t do a whole lot. I liked seeing Mera take Aquaman to task for acting all cool in front of the surface folk, but otherwise this was sort of a dud. Would have enjoyed seeing more of that other planet, while I’m thinking about it. Feels like a lot of missed opportunities here.
Bits and Pieces:
A pretty unsatisfying conclusion to this story arc includes a bit of pushback by Mera against Aquaman, probably the issue's main redeeming scene. Despite this yarn having gone for four or five issues, the ending sees half-finished. Maybe the rest comes after the next DC Comics reboot.