Members of an Atlantean terror cell are making their way to the United States, determined to destroy a city. The Deluge have no real grudge with the surface dwellers, they simply resent that their king, Aquaman, cares as much about the people of dry land as he does those beneath the waves. With back-up from partner Mera and the staff of Atlantean Embassy Spindrift Station, Arthur finds the terrorists and fights to stop them, saving countless lives and freeing the enslaved sea beasts being used in the doomsday plan.
We're told this issue's story by a narrator who remains unrevealed until the book's end. They tell us who Aquaman is, what he believes his mission to be, who matters to him and more. It's a clever primer for any readers jumping on with the DC Rebirth issues. Given that he's been setting up a fresh status quo in the recent New 52 Aquaman series for a few months, writer Dan Abnett doesn't need to tear things down and start again - why would he when his stories have been so well-received? Instead, he changes the narrative camera angle, giving us a meaningful done-in-one that finally outlines the narrator's fiendish plans.
It's a tour de force by Abnett that demonstrates why DC were wise to offer him an exclusive contract - he's character defining and world building, enriching Aquaman's milieu. Who knew Atlantis had castes today? That the DC Universe has an Aquaman TV cartoon? And Abnett gives his narrator what has to be the Line of the Week.
The book captures the attention immediately with not just Abnett's fine writing, but the artwork. The opening two pages, as Aquaman appears, a splash of orange out of the blue of the ocean, is a superb melding of the talents of artist and colourist.
Those images are the work of Oscar Jiménez, who pencils and inks the first three and final two pages, with the rest of the book by penciller Scot Eaton and inker Mark Morales (thanks to the ever-excellent Aquaman Shrine blog at http://www.aquamanshrine.
net/ for credits breakdown - if only DC would provide this in the actual book). The brilliant colouring comes courtesy of Gabe Eltaeb, while Pat Brosseau brings the effective lettering - the fonts are well chosen, the emphases spot on. I can't recall previously 'feeling' the force of the water as Arthur swam towards us, but here I almost ducked.
Two artists doesn't make for a mess of an issue - some of the pages are a little softer in tone than the others, but the difference isn't jarring. All the action scenes work nicely, with Arthur looking the first-rate hero he is, while Mera's sharp mind is evident, and she's sultry without being OTT.
My favourite sequence, artistically, is the diner scene - just look at Mera's body language, that's terrific stuff. And Abnett's dialogue, with business and lunch taking equal precedence, has a wonderfully truthful ring to it.
I like both covers, the main one by new series co-penciller Brad Walker, inker Drew Hennessey and Eltaeb, and the new DC bullet variant by... hang on, no credit again, I have to look this up... Ryan Benjamin. Come on DC, 'where it's due' and all that.
All in all, this is an extremely well-done prologue to the new biweekly Aquaman book - a character piece, a summer blockbuster and a promise of great things to come.