In Brief: In the first two volumes of Aquaman from DC Comics’ New 52 line, the creative team of Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, and Joe Prado relaunch and revitalize this familiar if not overly popular character. In Volumes 1 and 2 (the first twelve issues of the series), Aquaman confronts a mysterious subterranean invasion, then his old foe, Black Manta, while learning new details about the fall of Atlantis.
Pros: This is an A-team lineup from DC. Johns, Reis, and Prado have produced a beautiful book, well plotted, with mystery and effective characterization. Johns’ take on Aquaman is somewhat darker than you might expect, but it works well here.
Cons: There is a certain formula to the Johns storytelling method, and he certainly doesn’t flip any scripts or pull any big surprises here (not that DC would let him). Some of the fight sequences seemed off in their pacing and could have used more panels to convey the action.
Full Review: As we understand it, the idea behind the New 52 was for DC to rebrand/relaunch the books and characters in their universe – everything from issue 1, with a lot of the previous continuity jettisoned to make way for new stories. I previously picked up the Batman relaunch (and sadly did not review it here) and have the JLA relaunch in the queue. Aquaman probably would not have made the cut if not for a referral from a friend willing to lend me the first two volumes.
The nice thing about the New 52 concept is it does provide a good jumping on point. I don’t know much about Aquaman beyond the Justice League, but that doesn’t matter here. Purists may grit their teeth at the loss or sweeping away of so much back-issue history, but taking these familiar heroes, rebooting them in their prime with some sense of their origins and pivotal moments does provide an effective hook for new readers. Picking up a book about a character with whom I had no prior investment (as opposed to Batman or the X-Men) was also an interesting prospect, allowing me to read and assess a little more objectively.