By: Dan Jurgens (story), Lan Medina (pencils), Allen Martinez (inks), Matt Milla (colors)

The Story: The Others leave the world of the living—and come back again.

The Review: Usually, I give a new series a whole arc to get its bearings, especially if it’s from a set of creators I respect or admire. At the beginning, all I’m looking for is a sign, any sign, that greatness can arise from the title, given an opportunity to plant its roots. Every now and then, I run across a series that falls short of even that fairly low standard, which makes an early Drop necessary. I think Aquaman and the Others lands squarely in that category.

No one expects literary sophistication in comics, but Jurgens can’t even be bothered to create a veneer of credibility with his dialogue. Of all the ridiculous things I’ve seen in comics this week—see the mecha-zombie-ninjas in Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #2, for example—by far the most preposterous is the others casually chatting as they plunge from the sky after their plane gets shot down. Consider the following dialogue (and keep in mind this is all taking place during a freefall).

Prisoner: “Well. This isn’t good.”

Aaron: “Since none of us can fly, you mean. H.R. needs to do a better job of staffing.”

Operative: “Something to consider if we replace Vostok.”

Ya’wara: “We have more immediate concerns.”

Arthur: “The Justice League isn’t perfect—but this is where it’d be nice to have a Green Lantern.”

Prisoner: “We need options—fast.”

Aaron: “Grow wings and pray?”

Prisoner: “Humor doesn’t help, Aaron.”

Aaron: “Doesn’t hurt.”

Please do call me out if I’m being too rigid an English nerd here, but I see a lot of problems with this scene. First, the total absence of excitement—note the lack of exclamation points—makes them seem not only complacent with their situation, but downright bored. Consequently, what’s promoted as peril, even on the cover, is mostly just time-wasting. Second, no individuality comes through the voices, nor does the conversation rise above vanilla banter, so there’s a void of personality in the dialogue. Third, and perhaps most importantly, it’s only after they’re done talking that Sky pipes up, “I can save us,” when that really should have been the first thing she says.

It’s this persistent flatness of character throughout the issue that really drains your confidence in the series. Besides the problems within the Others themselves, everyone else sounds like they were never customized beyond their manufactured archetypes: Sayeh’s damsel-in-distress (“You’re lying. You tried to hurt me! They’re heroes! They would never steal!”), Darya and Anton Solokov’s elitist villainy (“Cease your blubbering. You’re ruining my rug.”), etc. This lifelessness makes any kind of plotting almost futile; you need to be interested in the characters to be interested in what they’re doing.

There isn’t much to the plot anyway. The Solokovs want the relics; the Others don’t plan to just hand it over. You can take a guess as to what happens next: the Others realize the relics rightfully belong to someone else, but they find an excuse to keep it anyway, probably because the Solokovs prove to be evil jags who don’t deserve their family legacy anymore. I’ll be interested to see if Jurgens can actually manage to deliver something different, but not enough to continue purchasing the series.

Medina’s art is DC’s house style through and through, straightforward, plain, and bland, to the point that even a plane exploding in midair looks kind of dull. Take a look at the panel of the Outsiders charging towards a battalion of rock creatures. The most dynamic image you get out of that is Arthur skidding his trident off the side of what you presume to be a rock creature, except Medina gives it no clear shape, so it could very well just be an actual rock formation Arthur mistakes for an enemy.

Conclusion: Weakly, even shoddily constructed at nearly every turn in almost every manner. Even if things improve from here on out, it’s impossible to believe it’ll be dramatic enough to redeem the damage already done.  Dropped.

Grade: C-

-Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Billings is a ghost who nevertheless is affected enough by the material world to get seasick in an Atlantean submarine. I really have no idea what to think about that.