DC Comics, 22 pages, $ 2.99
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: Ivan Reis
Inker: Joe Prado
Colorist: Rod Reis
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Geoff Johns has a message for you: Aquaman is a serious and important character. Very serious and very important, in fact. Terribly serious and important. A tremendously serious and important character, that’s Aquaman.
Which, you know, is a perfectly valid concern for a superhero comic. Unfortunately, this is one of those typical Johns things where the writer sits down with his target audience, addresses them directly and doesn’t bother with time-consuming things like drama, storytelling, character or plot.
Or, to be more precise, what Johns does is to sit Aquaman down at a table and let him address a string of disparaging remarks from a bunch of straw-man characters.
The book looks good, certainly—if most of the story takes place at a fish restaurant, it helps to have an artist who isn’t out of his depth drawing real people, and Ivan Reis fits the bill. Mr. Reis is a rock-solid storyteller, and while his drawing style owes a little bit to pretty much every major popular and influential superhero artist of the last 50 years, it’s also immediately recognizable as “Ivan Reis.” As far as bright, attractive superhero art is concerned, this is very good stuff.
The story itself is off to a neat start, too, for that matter. The introductory action sequence is nicely choreographed and suggests that Johns has it in him to tell some worthwhile Aquaman stories.
Once we get to the restaurant, though, Johns loses me completely. Plainly, this isn’t a story, but a lazy exercise in navel-gazing. It’s the comics equivalent of Johns getting on his message board and telling his fans what a way-cool dude Aquaman is, like, seriously. Rather than, you know, putting in the time to actually dramatize this concern and put it into a shape that broadly deserves to be called a “story.”
Aquaman is the kind of book that makes me wish I’d never see another superhero story, to be perfectly frank—pandering, self-important drivel with a frame of reference as broad as a can of sardines. Every time someone calls this a good comic, somewhere in the world a proper writer dies.