By: Dan Jurgens (story), Lan Medina (pencils), Allen Martinez (inks), Matt Milla (colors)
The Story: If the Justice League’s not available, we can always call those Other heroes.
The Review: Never in my geekiest daydreams would I have imagined a day when there’d not only be an Aquaman series that was actually popular, but two Aquaman books. That’s truly an abundance of riches, especially when you consider icons like the Flash haven’t gotten their second title yet (some, like Martian Manhunter, haven’t even gotten one). But are audiences ready for that much Aquaman? Can his current popularity handle that kind of exploitation?
I suppose the better question is: can the Others? The very existence of this issue shows that Geoff Johns was onto something when he created Aquaman’s personal justice league, but I’ve always felt that it would take a very clear vision of the Others’ purpose to bring them back. It probably would’ve helped if we’d known how they came together to begin with. They’re all permanently attached, but it’s never been clear what forms that attachment besides the Atlantean relic each of them holds, and this issue does nothing to change that.
At one point, Jurgens insists, through some disembodied voices from the beyond, that the Others “share a bond that goes beyond the relics themselves,” and yet the relics are the only reason the team gathers again in the first place. There’s also the suggestion that the nature of the relics are such that they weaken when separated from each other or Aquaman. If true, this only binds the Others more tightly to Atlantean history, not each other.
Aside from this fundamental problem, Jurgens’ basic approach to this issue is sadly uninspired. I’ve discussed the art of an opening before, and here Jurgens immediately starts on the wrong foot by introducing the Others in a series of introductions. It’s never a good sign for a story’s creative vitality when it begins with a pattern: one of the Others gets attacked by some bozos in full-body spandex, their relic fails at a critical moment, and they manage to survive, murmuring darkly over their relic’s failure. This takes up half the issue, and it’s entirely formulaic.
It’s not the most memorable way to kick off a series, but at least Jurgens covers the necessary information: names, individual purposes (e.g., Prisoner’s focus on veterans issues, Yawara’s protection of her native rainforest, etc.), and respective relics. Unfortunately, all this focus on basic facts leaves Jurgens little time to display the Others’ various personalities, which is key to a team book featuring characters most people haven’t encountered before. At best, we get Sky’s sassy exchange with the spirit of her “great-great-great times ten” grandfather and Yawara’s rather catty remarks to Arthur (So. You do care about us. Interesting that Mera isn’t around to hear that.”).
As far as plot goes, Jurgens whips up a serviceable, if insipid premise by re-examining the relics’ origins. It’s not apparent if Jurgens is giving us a different set of lore than what Johns already established in #24, that Atlan relied upon the “arcane knowledge of the Deserters and their mysterious sands” to create the relics. Here, we see Atlan approaching an alchemist, who lives in what is very much not a desert (with not a speck of sand in sight), and stealing the “Gold of Legacy” for his own purposes. It should be noted, however, that the gold is in itself a creation, the result of secrets granted by “spirits,” no doubt the very ones presently directing one Anton of Trezygstan* to retrieve the relics.
Medina’s art is about as unmemorable and competent as Jurgens’ script. Appropriately enough, it shares a lot of similarities to Paul Pelletier’s straightforward work on Others‘ older sibling, Aquaman, although I’d actually peg Medina as Pelletier’s superior by virtue of his greater detail. Action-wise, this is very much the simple, blunt stuff of DC’s house art style, with a few fancy poses thrown in to leaven the mix. Creativity is not Medina’s aim here; Anton’s henchmen are basically red versions of the Operative’s full-body wetsuit.
Conclusion: The issue makes a good case for the Others to have a miniseries, not an ongoing, in a case of too little, too soon.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: * So, is Trezygstan a new fictional DC nation, or an old one?
– I sure hope that we’ll return to the minor plotline of Kahina’s widow and sister soon, otherwise that was one incredibly otiose Future’s End plug.
– It’s a little sad that