‘Aquamen’ continues to do an amazing job at not only focusing on the title characters but overall celebrating the entirety of the Aqua-family and their history, as it sets things up for the future on the horizon. A bright but dark and deep superhero story that revolves around family, is the best way to really begin to pass the baton to Jackson Hyde as the Aquaman of the present and future.
The sins of the past have a pretty common habit of coming back to bite heroes in the proverbial butt, and more often than not it’s others that end up paying the price. As an Atlantean sleeper cell threat grows, the sins of Arthur Curry are laid bare for his family.
Aquamen is a very interesting series as it sets various members of the Aqua family against one another as lies and threats begin to surface and Black Manta is one of the only people that Curry can turn to in his moment of need. While the name of the book refers mostly to Arthur and Jackson Hyde (and Black Manta in a way) it’s truly a full family book. Mera, Tempest, and others are very much an important part of the series and bounce off the others quite well.
Chuck Brown and Brandon Thomas have balanced their medium-sized cast quite well so far, as everyone has had a part to play or had a moment. Arthur’s past sins and Jackson’s caught between two worlds (his father and his found family) status are the overarching plots that are entwined together, but we also get to see a lot about how others are feeling about these situations. The interplay between Tempest and Jackson, both having been partners to Arthur, is a realm I’m finding especially of interest since the two haven’t shared a lot of time on page with their back and forth statuses over the last decade or so with the reboots/relaunches/reshuffling.
Taking an old-school classic villain and giving them a new angle is nothing new in comics, but when it’s pulled off well it can be a game-changer. We see that here as one of Aquaman’s oldest enemies, the Scavenger makes a big entrance in this issue where it turns out he’s been greatly enhanced because of the Atlantean sleeper cell situation. All I knew before this was that he was a deep-sea diver pirate type, and here he’s going toe to toe with Jackson without breaking a sweat.
There are only two issues to go before this book leaps forward to catch up to the recent ‘Death of the Justice League’/Dark Crisis story, and it shows no signs of slowing down which is great in my book.
There is an artistic change with this issue both with pencils and colors, as Max Raynor and Hi-Fi Colors step into the Atlantean adventure. There are definitely differences between the art here and the previous two issues, but there are also a lot of similarities that make the transition pretty smooth. Much like the work that Sam Basri was doing, Raynor’s got a lot of the same kinetic and overall energy through all the issue, and it maintains that sense of depth and weight.
Raynor also is really great at utilizing the white space between panels, using it to frame the panels while also showcasing great paneling sensibilities as some of them break barriers to slide over each other or a few where the action just completely breaks out of any sort of borders and takes up all the space it so desires.
Hi-Fi’s colors are very bright and slick but maintain the darkness/shadows that bring a darker and moodier atmosphere alongside the heavily superhero-like vibes that are present. They are brighter and a bit splashier than the colors that Adriano Lucas had in the last issue, but it’s not a bad thing at all. This issue is full of drama and a supervillain monologue scene which are all big bold things befitting splashier bold colors.
There are a great number of really innovative and creative letterers that are doing great things in comics these days, and the folks at Andworld Design are definitely high up on that list. Character tone, voice, and personality are perfectly clear in every single piece of dialogue and there are little things done that make it so the dialogue of some characters stands out from others easily. Not to leave out also the great use of a font that bursts right out of bubbles for heavier emotions or volumes, and the immersive SFX that takes up space in the world and cannot be missed as moments are happening.
Oh, also, I applaud the choice to put a bat signal on the cover to signify the idea of Batman and then in the issue bringing us Kate Kane/Batwoman instead. Nicely done right there.
DC Comics’ Aquamen #3 is now available.