Aquaman issues: 14, 15, 16

Justice League issues: 15, 16, 17

Why on earth is Captain Marvel on the cover?

Why on earth is Captain Marvel on the cover?

Aquaman has become one of my favorite characters to come out of the New 52, with a major thanks to his ongoing series written by Geoff Johns. So of course I was thrilled to follow his “Throne of Atlantis” crossover because 1) The whole event was focused on Aquaman, and 2) I had already been reading Johns’ run on Justice League and therefore did not need to pick up a random title just to enjoy the crossover. Before I had even purchased the prelude issue, this story already had two points in its favor. Spoilers for Throne of Atlantis below.

Prelude (Aquaman 14):  Prelude issues can be tricky, because on the one hand, it needs to be an introduction for key characters and relevant plot points, but then again, many people skip the prelude and wait for the first part of the arc. The problem then is how can a prelude issue feel relevant without being absolutely necessary that a person needs to pick this issue up before starting the meat of the arc. However, that doesn’t seem to be a problem for Johns. Past characters and artifacts are brought up, while we are introduced to two new characters, Aquaman’s brother and current king of Atlantis, Orm, and the land-living Atlantean, Vulko. Johns gives us a brief glimpse into the tempestuous (pun intended) relationship of Aquaman and Orm; a brief history of how past Atlanteans go about revenge, and a preview of things to expect in the rest of the story. As far as preludes go, this one gets 5 ancient Atlantean relics out of 5.

Parts 1 & 2 (Justice League 15 & Aquaman 15): This crossover event literally starts off with a bang (okay, technically it starts off with a scared school of fish swimming away) that sparks the inevitable conflict: An aircraft carrier unexpectedly shoots off its new missiles at the bottom of the ocean. Judging by the crews faces, this was not the intended target of those missiles. Batman is in pursuit of a group of speed boating baddies, while Wonder Woman and Superman go on a civilian date as a couple of four-eyed lovebirds. I have to get this out of the way: In comic books I find it really strange when people with the exact same hair and eye color date. They just look too related for me, so I’m asking colorists to start using varying shades of blue and black. Back to our more important matters, Aquaman and his incredibly awesome partner Mera “help” Batman stop those boating baddies; Cyborg finds out that he is becoming more and more machine; and Metropolis is hit with a flood/tsunami and an aircraft carrier, well, Superman and Wonder Woman manage to catch the aircraft carrier before it can add on to the tsunami damage. As Superman states “Dammit, we can’t save everyone,” flash to Lois Lane underwater. I don’t care how much Wonder Woman understands you or that you are the Superman of the New 52: You always have to save Lois Lane, Clark! But Clark’s mistakes are fixed thanks to Vulko (Prelude!), who saves Lois. Back with Aquaman, Mera, and Batman, they too see a crazy storm brewing, and find out that Orm and his army of are behind this, following the Atlantean war plans that Arthur himself wrote.

Aquaman #15

Aquaman #15

Part 2 focuses on the devastation the storm is causing in Gotham now, as our heroes struggle to save as many people as possible. the highlight of this issue is Mera stopping a tidal wave from hitting the city. Oh, and Orm asking two startled sailors where their king is, getting blank stares as an answer, and then asking them if he is speaking their language correctly. The League take an exhausted Vulko to the Watchtower, where Cyborg has stayed for the past two issues. The other four League member return to the battleground, where Orm and his army confront them. We end part 2 with the lovely scene of Aquaman grabbing Batman by the neck. Personally, I think Aquaman is using his whole “Do I fight for Atlantis or the Surface World?” conflict in order to release some pent up hostility he has against Batman from their early disputes about who’s the leader. Parts 1 and 2 are a great start to the crossover event. Johns provides the main conflict at hand, while also giving hints of things to come.

Parts 3 & 4 (Justice League 16 & Aquaman 16): The issue opens with everyone’s favorite scientist, Dr. Shin being saved by Cyborg, only to be attacked by what I am assuming is a member of the Atlantean Black Ops. The whole issue is pretty much one gorgeous battle between Aquaman, Orm, and the rest of the JL. Ivan Reis has done absolutely amazing work in Part 1 and now in Part 3. His fight scenes do not have that problem where the action is difficult to follow or look like a hot mess. These scenes are what every superhero comic book battle should be, which is super. Our heroes are defeated (for now) in one foul swoop by Orm, and Reis makes their pain quite real. Cyborg, who has remained away from his teammates and the water, has returned to the Watchtower with Dr. Shu, but after hearing that his comrades have fallen, Cyborg makes a crucial decision: Removing one of his few remaining human attributes in order to dive deep into the depths of the ocean. Part 3 ends with a call to arms of some of the superheroes that the League has come in contact with at some point (Zatanna’s costume is insanely lame).

Part 4 touches a bit on Cyborg’s connection to the last physical remnants of his human body. This conflicting issue of being more machine than man has been severely, disappointingly underused in the New 52, but I am glad that Throne of Atlantis has touched on it a little. Honestly, it’s a much more interesting inner struggle than being the last of your kind (*cough*Superman*cough*). Meanwhile, Aquaman is struggling to save his friends (I’m using the term loosely here) as he gets attacked by those creatures from the first arc of Aquaman. Batman is actually conscious and communicating with Aquaman from the pod thing he is encased in, which I find to be pretty funny. I am starting to wonder if New 52 Batman isn’t part machine or has some sort of super power himself. Up on land, superheroes like Black Canary and Hawkman (who is pretty freakin’ bloodthirsty and a tad scary) battle Orm’s army. Paul Pelletier’s pencils have grown on me, and though I find his battle scenes to be less spectacular than Reis’, they still are exciting and well organized. Down below, Mera and Cyborg save Aquaman and the rest of the JL from their pods, except Batman, because, well, he doesn’t work well under (water) pressure. speaking of water pressure, I know she’s a demigod, but I was surprised to see that Wonder Woman could handle being out of her pod and able to talk (!!) that deep down into the ocean. While I was contemplating the capacities of a demigod and the JL were busy chatting, those deep sea creatures escaped and made it to the surface. For me, though this was still a great installment, Part 4 was the weakest issue for me. Lots of talking. Obviously too much talking since our heroes didn’t notice AN ARMY OF MONSTROUS SEA CREATURES swim up to land. So we leave off with the surface world having to not only face Atlanteans, but also an army of muscular man-eating sea monsters. Oh, and apparently Vulko, our other Friendly Neighborhood Atlantean, isn’t as friendly as we thought.

Justice League #17

Justice League #17

Part 5 (Justice League 17): Magnificent. Positively magnificent. Reis’ artwork coupled with Johns’ story gives Thrones of Atlantis the ending

it so rightly deserves. Those who read Throne of Atlantis will never think of Aquaman as a ridiculous, joke of a superhero, lest they want to be smote by the King of Atlantis. While the Justice League and the back up heroes continue the fight with the Atlantean army, Aquaman and Orm finally get to work out their brotherly angst. Apparently the best way to do that is by punching your brother in the face and taking your rightful place as the King of Atlantis. In all seriousness, no matter how awesome Aquaman looks shouting “I am your king,” it is not what he wanted at all. By being the king, Aquaman must leave the surface world that he was never truly a part of to rule over Atlanteans in a kingdom that he can never truly relate to. Thus, Aquaman is left being the exactly what he never wanted: alone. But being the king has its benefits, as Aquaman uses the old king’s scepter to send those nasty sea monsters back to sea. Vulko will be taken to Atlantis and tried for his crimes, but as a cruel punishment, Orm is forced to stay on land and serve his punishment there. Seeing the guy in his prison cell, even after all of the damage that he has caused, is a sad sight to see, and just like his brother, Orm too is in a place where he is alone. The ending itself is quite melancholy, as Aquaman must bid farewell to Mera and the people of the surface world now have a strong negative opinion about Aquaman and Atlantis.

Overall, this was an incredibly enjoyable crossover featuring one of the New 52’s best superheroes. Though I am bummed to see Reis leave Aquaman for Justice League, Pelletier is already starting to improve and find his grove within the series, and proved that he can handle the responsibility of making Aquaman look awesome. I look forward to things to come in the next arc where we see Aquaman act out his kingly duties. As for the Justice League, I hope that Cyborg’s struggle to hold on to what is human is put more into focus, and I am excited to see who they will replace Aquaman with. Throne of Atlantis is a great little crossover, and even if the story wasn’t as good as it turned out to be, I would still recommend it for Reis’ art alone. I mean, just bask in its glory.

About The Author

I am a Grand Valley State University student majoring Mathematics and minoring in Elementary Education and Spanish. My life changed forever in the sixth grade when my mom bought me the DC Comics Encyclopedia. From that moment on, superheroes and comic books became a major part of my world. I love reading in general, almost as much as I love math (Just kidding, I don't love math. I like it.). I have been a Batman fan for years, and I have the countless number of Batman-themed gifts, birthday cards, and paraphernalia to show for it.

Besides the caped crusader, I have a very special place in my heart for the X-Men, especially for X-23.  I really love it when a story makes me cry (Here's looking at you, "The Tornado's Path" from Brad Meltzer's Justice League of America.). Outside of comic books and writing, I love being a librarian (Well, technically a library assistant), especially when I get to tell patrons that we only take cash or check, or when people ask me about our puppets. If I'm not reading during my free time, I'm most likely chillaxing and eating Skittles. Or taking my adorable Boston Terrier, Leo, out for a walk.

Comments are closed.