Aquaman and the Others #1 review

The Others are a loose association of heroes who share one thing - possession of Atlantean artefacts of power. They've previously appeared in the Aquaman series and their own special, and now they get an ongoing, headlined by the Sea King himself.

The book opens with a flashback to the days of Atlan, ousted king of Atlantis, as he murders a former ally in order to possess mystical gold. As the narrative moves to today, we see individual members of the Others - Prisoner of War, Ya'wara, Sky Alchesay and the Operative - attacked by masked men out to steal their objects of power. All the attempts fail, due to the Others' skill and, in the case of the Operative, the arrival of Aquaman. While the individual heroes survive, each notes that their artefact seems suddenly weak.

Gathering on the Operative's plane, Aquaman briefs his old friends on Atlantean history and theorises that being apart has lessened the artefacts' power.

I appreciate writer Dan Jurgens' deft exposition here, having jumped off Aquaman during the Others' initial appearance - I've never been a big fan of Atlantean history, and the Others' easy willingness to kill turned my stomach.

Well, we have Prisoner of War (an awful name, can we just go with PoW?) stabbing one of his assailants in a way that suggests said foe isn't coming back, and the Operative snapping some guy's neck. If that's how it's going to be, I won't become a regular reader of this book; sure, it makes sense for an army vet haunted by his dead 'brothers' and a CIA guy to use lethal force, but I don't want such behaviour to be second nature in a superhero comic - and having Aquaman star positions this series as such.

I may well give it a few issues, though, as Jurgens is a fine storyteller and, as a comics creator of some experience, likely realises that killing and super-heroism doesn't go hand in hand. So he may change things, make the Others work harder for their wins.

Jurgens certainly shows his skill here, giving us a first issue that organically introduces characters while setting up a mystery or two. There's the question of who wants the artefacts ... a time-tossed Atlan is the obvious suspect, but it could as easily be the Scavenger, or someone else. And the final page has someone connected to the Others experiencing a vision linked to DC's upcoming Future's End weekly. It's a smart move, building anticipation for that series, while making this one feel like part of DC's biggest events - and relevance to the wider universe is all-important when kicking off a new title in a crowded market.

It's a delight, seeing Jurgens handle Aquaman again - his previous stint, a continuity reboot or two ago, was excellent, but cut short. Jurgens' Arthur Curry is a serious hero, but one with a sense of humour, which jibes nicely with Jeff Parker's portrayal in the hero's home book. And with a crack about Batman, Jurgens' Aquaman gets the line of the week.


What's more, Jurgens sketches in the Others' personalities and relationships in an economic, satisfying manner. I'd like him to move jungle queen Ya'Wara on from the bitter ex-girlfriend bit, as that gets old fast. Then again, perhaps he's planning to ship Aquaman out for a few issues and give us Mera and the Others - that could be interesting, if the temptation towards a catfight (literally, if Ya'Wara sics her jaguar on Mera) is resisted. The young, but mature, Native American teleporter Sky Alchesay should help keep it classy

Penciller Lan Medina and inker Allen Martinez are massive assets to this book, producing sharp, dynamic pages that hit all the storytelling beats. They vary perspective, pay attention to body language and expressions, remember the importance of setting and generally provide a visual world we can relax into.

Colourist Matt Milla does the artwork proud, providing a rich variety of moods for a book that spans realms in our own world and others, while letterer Rob Lean keeps the script clean and focused.

Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Rod Reis have come up with a good-looking cover, though I'd like to have seen the talented interior art team given the plum job. Hopefully soon

The proofreading could be better, with a panel showing a soup kitchen for 'veterens' - that's one for editors Kate Durre and Brian Cunningham.

Other than that, though, well done all round for a debut issue I enjoyed much more than I was expecting to. Arthur Curry has never headlined two comics at once, but with the quality of the current Aquaman book, and now the Others, he could be doing so for a while.