By Dan Abnett, Scot Eaton, Oscar Jimenez, Mark Morales, Gabe Eltaeb, Pat Brosseau
The previous issues of Abnett’s run on Aquaman had some interesting ideas. Aquaman created an embassy for Atlantis in Massachusetts, appointed Mera to be the ambassador and made some serious strides towards positive relations between Atlantis and surface dwellers. Best of all, Abnett found one of Aquaman’s best qualities, which is the fact that he’s a fish out of water no matter where he goes. For whatever reason, these issues came off as a poorly executed. Despite the great ideas, the stories fell flat and the art wasn’t doing Arthur any favors with an outdated style. Anyway, DC felt like Abnett did enough for a longer run and here we are. Even though this is supposed to be a fresh start, Aquaman: Rebirth is more of the same and that includes both the good and the bad.
The good parts of Aquaman: Rebirth are the things that we have already iterated about Abnett’s run. Aquaman still has the embassy; he’s still not wanted on land or in water and so on. He’s distrusted in his adopted home on land and even though he’s the king of Atlantis, his own people reject him and treat him as an outsider. The guy can never catch a break. There’s so much solid material here that this should be a slam dunk.
Unfortunately, the overall plots are still underwhelming. Actually, a lot of it is just plain boring. As an Aquaman fan, it pains me to say that. Despite a great premise, Aquaman and Mera just sort of hang around, doing dull stuff and talking to boring characters. Other than an interesting cliffhanger, there isn’t anything of real substance to get excited about.
To make matters worse, this issue is also a rehash of Geoff Johns’ first issue of Aquaman. You know, where they like to remind you that he’s a joke to most people and then proceed to not give casual readers any reason to think otherwise. This issue has the same jokes and points that Johns made, including Aquaman eating at the same diner where he famously and angrily proclaimed that he DOES NOT talk to fish. Look, the best way to show that Aquaman doesn’t suck is to tell extraordinarily great and well-written stories about him. The rest will take care of itself.
The art is better than the work that Aquaman’s previous series had to end on. Well, for the most part. It’s serviceable in most places, but is way too sloppy and inconsistent. The first few pages are oddly drawn and colored. Everything looks blurry. Then it gets better, except the style changes in a very jarring manner. The final two pages go back to the first style, only this time it isn’t as blurry. None of this is a good look for Aquaman.
Hopefully, Abnett can find a groove and put some his better ideas to good use. Until that time comes, Aquaman is still hard to recommend to anyone other than huge fans. If you don’t like the character, this comic is not going to convince you otherwise.