In many ways this arc was the simplest of all the New 52 opening arcs. Something mostly mindless arises from the sea and starts eating and kidnaping people for their larder. Aquaman must stop them, but complications arise from the very people Aquaman seeks to protect. To most, he's a joke. So, within this simple arc, Johns tried and succeeded to reclaim Aquaman from Jerry Seinfeld.
In this chapter, Johns introduces the queen of the monsters to the readers, but he also does something more. He shows Aquaman to be an effective hero. One of the complaints I had about the old universe, before I boycotted the entirety, was that the heroes weren't actually doing anything heroic. Mostly, they lost, let the villain get away and let people die. What kind of hero is that? For the new Aquaman, losing isn't an option.
No Dead Chicks on Aquaman's Watch
Aquaman delves into the depths and discovers the home of the Piranha Men. He undertook this journey because the people they abducted might be alive. Along the way, he makes a discovery.
That scenario may be explored at another time, but Aquaman can't be distracted. He's on a mission to save lives. Of course, there are big obstacles in his path.
Big Bad Queen
Ivan Reis, the inkers and Ann Reis give this monster enormous scope, and you wonder exactly how can the Sea King win. However, you never lose confidence in him, and that marks a change.
Before, I lacked confidence in every single DC hero, and Aquaman? Hell, I didn't even know who he was at any given moment. This is Aquaman, and I know he will prevail. How he manages it is 'effin awesome.
Aquaman's victory spans another double pager by the Reises, Prado and Ferriera, deservedly so. The win depends upon Aquaman's power, his knowledge of the sea and his superb marksmanship. The result is simply stunning and packs big budget bang wallop. Sorry. You'll have to buy the book in whatever form you prefer to see the visual.
After dealing with the queen, Aquaman still must take care of the angry Piranha Men swimming up to take a bite out his hide, but here again, the creative team come through with a display of Aquaman's strength beneath the waves. The moment once again signifies a difference between the New 52 Universe and the old.
Monsters have no rights. If they don't surrender outright, that's it for them. I approve. Reintroducing death for the Big Bad is a welcome return to old, school pulp plotting. The threat of death immediately makes the situation more dramatic and less predictable.
Johns ends the story on an uplifting moment for Aquaman and Mera. They gain a cheerful pet suitable to Aquaman's and Mera's amphibious lifestyle. It's a nice full circle moment that arises organically from the plot.
Cuter Than Topo
Ray Tate's first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, "Spider Without a Web," published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups, where he reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he's young at heart. Of course, we all know better.