By: Jeff Parker (story), Carlos Rodriguez (pencils), Bit (inks), Rain Beredo (colors)
The Story: Aquaman can talk to fish, but he can’t reason with them.
The Review: I’ve frequently remarked that lately, Mera has had the better storylines in this series, and I guess the implication is that Arthur has not. It stands to reason; while she spends the bulk of her time interacting with the supporting cast and exploring the physical and political landscape of Atlantis, her husband is swimming around and getting beaten up by various opponents. What you’re starting to realize is Aquaman has become one of the weaker parts of Aquaman.
That’s not a good situation when you have an issue that’s all about Arthur from start to finish, and more than half of it is devoted to round two of his match with Chimera. Things don’t go much better for him the second time around; Chimera keeps him on the defensive for most of the battle and only a bit of luck with a leaking petroleum truck gives Arthur the win. I say luck, and not quick thinking, because he clearly doesn’t have his head straight this issue. Considering how badly his telepathic summons worked against him last time, he only has himself to blame when his call of two sharks to his aid goes awry, leading to a scene right out of the end of Old Yeller:
“Break off!! Go!! …Stop—turn away—don’t make me fight you–! Don’t!! No…no!“*
Chimera turns out to be not that compelling a villain anyway; monsters rarely do. His hodgepodge of powers keeps Arthur on his toes, but he has little in the way of motivation. Their mind-meld results in no new information of any kind, whether with Chimera’s origins as Karaqan or Coombs and so we never really understand what they’re fighting for.
My final point—one I might ordinarily leave as a Musing except I’ve seriously run out of things to say about the issue—concerns one of Chimera’s kills. The death of a cop named Eddie seems gratuitous mainly because it’s Arthur who drags Chimera into a crowded part of dry land, thus endangering the people there.* And aside from an anguished “No!!!” from Arthur in the moment, there’s not much mourning, apology, or reflection on his death afterward.
Rodriguez offers a watered-down version of Paul Pelletier’s art for this issue, with scragglier, less certain lines. True to the DC house style, the visuals are plain and straightforward, going through the motions of delivering the action without going out of its way to punch it up.
Conclusion: The first completely Arthur-centric issue in a long time and it’s one of the least exciting. Not a good sign.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: * So when that anchorwoman talks about Arthur’s “assistance” with cleaning up afterwards, I’m thinking, Yeah, assistance with the problem he created.