Aquaman #29 review 

Aquaman is hiding out in the depths of Atlantis, a fugitive from the forces of new king Rath. The king believes him dead, slain by his former ally Murk, but Arthur survives, wanting space to plan his next move. He’s not exactly eager to retake the kingdom. 

While Atlantean mutate Dolphin - a ‘taint blood’ - tries to persuade him to get his aqua-act together, elsewhere in Atlantis, his former courtier Vulko and new pal Ondine, a member of the nation’s mysterious Widowhood, fight on. They’re trying to get to the Treasury, where they hope to glean an artefact of power that will destroy the Crown of Thorns forcefield Rath’s sorcerers have erected around the city. Guarding the way, though, are the ghosts of ancient Atlanteans. As an Elder, Vulko recognises the shades, and in naming them, he can turn them back. 


Oops. 

Outside the Crown of Thorns, Aquaman’s partner Mera and friend Garth - once his young pal Aqualad, now the Titan known as Tempest - have been trying to break the Crown using her hard water powers and his spells. So far, they’ve had no success, and now they’ve been spotted. 


I’m hugely surprised by how much I’m enjoying this storyline. Strike One: Beardy Aquaman. Strike Two: Dolphin, whose last version was a bit of a sea slapper. Strike Three: Aquaman in exile, sort of, yet again. 

And yet, here are writer Dan Abnett and artist Stjepan Sejic producing a joyously entertaining romp that has me wishing this series were still on a fortnightly schedule. As illustrated by Sejic, whose full colour art is gloriously consistent, Beardy Aquaman is far from the angry tramp of the Peter David days. Likewise, his new design for Dolphin is fascinating, her iridescent skin providing extra visual appeal and her facial expressions reminiscent of Garry Trudeau’s vibrant style - it all adds up to a useful reminder that this is a new Dolphin for a new century. 

As for Aquaman being on the outs with Atlantis yet again, Abnett puts a new spin on things by having Arthur far from desperate to regain the throne. If the people want Rath as their king, why should he risk his neck trying to grab back a crown he’s never enjoyed wearing - Arthur is happiest at his lighthouse home, with Mera and their pooch Salty. Yes, this is a superhero book and usurpers must be slapped down, but it’s interesting to see Dolphin having to persuade Aquaman to do that hero thing. 


The only aspect of this chapter of the Underworld storyline I’m not keen on is how little thought Arthur is giving to Mera - she’s desperately fighting to reach his side while he’s having nice little chats with Dolphin. It’s great that there’s no sexual spark between Arthur and Dolphin, but I don’t think he’s so much as mentioned to her that he has a lady love. 

The team-up between Mera and the former Aqualad demonstrates the respect between the two people closest to Arthur, and is a great showcase for Garth’s arcane abilities. 


My favourite male-female relationship, though, is Vulko and Ondine, one blustering yet brave, the other incredulous and indomitable. They’re not necessarily destined to be a romantic pair but as partners in adventure, they’re gold. Add in a friendly ghost and Vulko and Ondine’s quest becomes the highlight of an above-average issue. 

Letterer Steve Wands’ contribution is as stylish as ever - I assume Sejic provides the ornate scene change display lettering, but I’d not be surprised to hear Wands had been called in to apply his talents. 


Sejic’s cover is a gorgeous representation of the contents, ditto Joshua Middleton’s variant. DC, you are spoiling us.  

Next issue, I’d like to see more Aquaman - he’s on just four of the 20 pages this month - but whatever the case, if it’s as good as this issue, I’ll be smiling.  


Aquaman #29 review, Dan Abnett, Stjepan Sejic, Steve Wands, Joshua Middleton, DC Rebirth

Comments

  1. to be honest Dolphin does raise a good point an played The Superman card masterfully but with all the crap Atlantis put him through having Arthur leaving them would be okay in my book also eye think his lack of thought on Mera is his way of having confidence Mera will okay with out him but where is his sister Tula or his Mom Atlanna they could help him

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That’s fair, assuming Mera would be OK, but I’d like him to at least be seen to be missing her. Tula is always welcome, she’s not related to Aquaman, though.

      Delete
    2. I know she and Ocean Master share a father, but that doesn’t make her related to Arthur.

      Am I completely forgetting something?

      Delete
    3. not to sound schmaltzy but Family does not end with blood but people u love an care for an eye would like to think Arthur an Tula mutual feel that way with each other

      Delete
    4. True, true, but we were specifically talking about whether Tula was Arthur’s actual sister - you’re moving the goalposts. I’m always fessing up when I get something wrong, it’s no huge deal.

      Delete
  2. Terrific review Martin. Like you, I'm having difficulty with Aquaman's new look, but otherwise I'm really enjoying this story arc. Darrin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. u might say his beard is Outrageous

      Delete
    2. Thanks Darrin! And it’s great to have you over here... keep up the great work with your Xenozoic Xenophiles and Warlord Worlds podcasts!

      Delete
    3. Outrageous indeed! Bring on the giant seahorse.

      Delete
    4. or Fluke just so he can annoy Batman

      Delete
  3. Nice shout-out to Garry Trudeau. Now that you mention it, I think I can see a little Joanie Caucus in some of Dolphin's expressions. Never would have thought of that; he's not someone who's thought of for his drawing style as much as his political satire.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It just struck me, the animated features seemed so familiar.

      Delete

Post a comment