By: Jimmy Palmiotti (writer), Joe Bennett & Tony Shasteen (artists), Rich & Tanya Horie (colorists)

The Story: One can never tell what lies under the sea…mayhap a dude in a fish mask and high-collar cape.

The Review: Here’s the thing about pirates: expect a lot of hacking and slashing, but don’t expect much in the way of what can be called depth.  Aside from a fickle fealty to their captain and volatile camaraderie with their crewmates, the majority of these ship-dwellers usually never grow as individuals or in their relationships.  It’s one of the hazards of being a genre character.

On the plus side, there’s never a dull moment in a pirate’s life, especially if the pirate in question is Deathstroke and he’s just wandered into Atlantean waters.  We get a grand showing from Aquaman and Ocean Master, who haven’t come off this competent in ages.  If you ever made fun of Aquaman’s League membership, now would be a good time to reconsider that position, since he and his bro pretty much wreck the Ravager’s crew without breaking a sweat.

Conversely, Deathstroke looks that much more lily-livered as he spends most of the fight bleeding on the deck—a far cry from his Identity Crisis days when he single-handedly took out half the League (including such powerhouses as the Flash, Green Lantern, Zatanna, Black Canary, and Hawkman).  Well, sure, you can make the excuse that he just got stabbed in the chest with a trident, but for crying out loud, when has that ever stopped him before?

Alas, the whole thing winds up a glorified distraction, as Aquaman and Ocean Master, despite being well on their way to taking the men of the Ravager to that humiliating place we call school, decide to just up and leave.  Considering the mercilessness they display throughout the fight, you have to wonder why they don’t just finish the job.  It just seems like Palmiotti was forced to have them exit before he lost his protagonist.

And then, what with all the time the crew spends recovering from the attack and defibrillating their captain, the issue is pretty much over before they can get a move on.  In fact, aside from some pointless shakeups in the ship’s pecking order and the semi-delightful return of Warlord, nothing moves on the plot side of things.  We learn no more about the history between Rose and Slade, how he lost her, and who has her.  On a purely story level, we’re no further ahead by the end of the issue than we are at the beginning.

The artists for all the Flashpoint titles must be sinking in flop sweat nowadays, as almost every single tie-in I’ve read this month has brought in someone to help on art duties.  Bennett is joined by Shasteen, who actually has a much cleaner, detailed style that brings some great realistic dimensions to the series.  You can really see the difference in how each artist depicts Icicle.  Bennett makes the crystal formations on the villain’s body look chunky, almost like it’s made of plaster.  Shasteen brings out each spike and crag to make his very skin look lethal.

Conclusion: This issue offer some good times in terms of brawls, but almost nothing in the way of overarching plot.

Grade: C+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – “I am mad with grief and wish to be left alone.”  Well, Aquaman, I don’t think you are, because why else would you go around starting fights?

– I love how Briggs basically just disappears for the entire fight.  Way to be a right-hand man, man.