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Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #41

Posted: Monday, April 10, 2006
By: Jonathan Larsen



Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Butch Guice

Publisher: DC Comics


It's One Year Later, a mysterious figure who looks and acts a whole lot like Aquaman is on a dangerous quest that takes him through the weirdest, most challenging areas of the undersea world. And, Neptune help me, I just don't care.

I don't care what happened to Aquaman yesterday, or a year ago, let alone One Year Later. I bought this book because I usually (but not always) like what Busiek turns out and pretty much always like what Guice turns out. The two of them redefining Aquaman was just too good to miss.

But the first chapter of their redefinition failed to grab me. Clearly, there's a mystery going on here. Who is this person? What is his connection to Aquaman? Who is the cloaked figure known only as the Dweller? Will I ever care?

For one thing, I don't like the new guy. He's callow and stupid. I get that this might very well be the callow-and-stupid phase of a bildungsroman, but someone's gotta throw me a bone and make me care whether the main character grows or not. I don't have to like him from the outset, but I have to see potential in him. I have to want him to succeed in both his external quest and his internal progress. I hoped that by this issue, the second chapter, I'd be
getting that.

As for the art, Guice's line-work is terrific, as always. I just wish I could see it. Apparently, someone's made the decision that undersea adventures of a man who breathes water and talks with fish should be depicted, y'know, realistically. And it is dark underwater. Hence, everything is colored as if it were underwater. Where it is dark. Listen, if sharks and other swimmy things compensate for the darkness by using other senses, can't we interpret the color scheme in such a way to allow readers the same luxury?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those Aqua-haters. I'm open to the possibility of a cool Aquaman. I was hoping for one. But already I've seen too much of the one quality that has sunk previous Aquamen: The whining. No one asked me, but I'd like to see an Aquaman who acts like a king. Not regal and prissy. But clever, manipulative and versed in power dynamics and game theory. Eight steps ahead. A king in exile, deploying agents who don't even know they're his agents. That kind of stuff.

If you've ever felt that there are two Busieks (it's not quite Astro City Busiek vs. Everything Else Busiek, but it's close), well, then, I'm afraid I don't think you'll be happy about which Busiek is writing this series. I can't say for sure that Astro City Busiek won't pop in, pull a fast one and floor
us all with the eventual denouement of all these mysteries. But the fact that I don't care isn't a good sign.

You can find Jonathan Larsen's blog, Petty Larseny, here.



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