Aquaman 18

aquaman 18

Today, Shelby and Mikyzptlk are discussing Aquaman 18, originally released March 27th, 2013.

Shelby: Aquaman 17 seemed to mark a new direction for our favorite King of the Seven Seas. Already tired of dealing with the political machinations of his new throne, he seemed ready to devote himself to the ocean, because fish don’t give a shit which political party you represent. I was intrigued where this would take the story; would it turn into a Captain Planet-esque crusade to protect ocean-life? Would that be lame, cool, or just enough of both to be enjoyable? As it turns out, all my speculation was for naught; despite Arthur’s desires, he finds himself mired more and more tightly in the politics of the throne. 

This issue is mostly composed of little vignettes as all the players move into place.

  • Arthur meets with Murk, who still thinks Atlantis needs to rise up and deal with the humans before the humans try to deal with Atlantis.
  • Arthur meets with Tula, Orm’s sister, and reassures her he won’t let the humans execute Orm.
  • Tula meets with Murk, who tells her they can’t trust Arthur OR the surface dwellers, and that they need to rescue Orm themselves.
  • Mera’s arrest proceedings are interrupted by the man who would be the King of the Seven Seas, having recently broken out of the ice of the Antarctic.

king of the seven seas

So much for Arthur’s crusade to save the fishies. Geoff Johns is working on moving all the necessary pieces in place for another attack on the surface world as well as a two-pronged attack on the throne: Murk and Orm on one side, unknown scary man pictured above on the other. Actually, I think it’s more Murk who’d be fighting to depose Arthur. Orm seems pretty on board with Atlantean law in this regard. It’s a pretty standard political intrigue sort of story, with the brothers on either side of the throne and the dangerous third party sneaking in the back. Let’s talk about that third party for a second; Paul Pelletier is rocking the pencils in this issue, I love that character design. He’s got that perfect blend of barnacle-y and icy I would expect from a villain trapped beneath the ice of Antarctica. Between Pelletier’s pencils, Sean Parsons’ inks, and Rod Reis’ colors, this issue is completely gorgeous. My absolute favorite sequence is scary man’s emergence from the ice; the way he takes out that poor researcher is like something out of a horror flick. The hand appearing over the edge of the crevasse, the splash of blood: it’s a thing of beauty.

it emerges

Am I wrong, or do we not know who this guy is yet? I’m not talking about his relation to the rest of the characters, his place in the Atlantean mythology Johns has created, I’m talking just his name. I’d rather not refer to him as “the scary guy” if I don’t have to.

There’s good and bad to be had in this issue, as is the case anytime a story revolves around moving pieces around on the board. I’m intrigued by the scheming happening between Tula and Murk, and am especially intrigued by Vulko’s involvement. At Tula’s suggestion, Arthur went to Vulko for advice on getting to the root of the Atlantean weapon arms trade going on at the surface. Vulko was more than happy to advise the king, and even seemed to give good advice, but I just can’t figure out what he thinks his role is going to be here. It seems he just wants Arthur to be on the throne and successfully ruling over Atlantis, even though that could mean Vulko could be sentenced to be executed by Arthur for his part in the war. I’m just not totally convinced that Vulko can be so complacent about his current position. How can he be happy to serve Arthur in chains, or to even die by his hand? I distrust him, and I distrust his advice to Arthur; my distrust makes me very interested to see how that story plays out.

I am less interested, however, in the way Mera’s story continues to play. Once again, Johns has highlighted her awkward inability to fit in with surface dwellers as she claims to not have any time for or interest in being arrested. I was over her whole “I’m an outsider” spiel almost instantly; I just want so much more out of this character. I want Mera to be strong, capable, and compassionate, not arrogant, dependent, and cold. What do you think, Mik? Do you also want to see more from Mera, character-wise? Is it possible that Vulko really is just completely content to serve Arthur in any capacity?

Mikyzptlk: To answer your question, no matter how much Mr. Johns tries to get me to, I can’t seem to summon enough fucks for Mera. I’d really like to care more as traditional superhero comics have always been in need of more diverse characters, and though I find it commendable that Johns is at least trying to make Mera into more of a household name, he hasn’t exactly made it easy for me to get attached to the character. However, with Arthur now having to spend more time attending to his kingly duties, it’s looking like Johns is planning on taking Mera on her own solo journey. What I found interesting in this issue is that, possibly for the first time, Mera has gone further than she ever has in attempting to fit in with, and perhaps even become a part of, the surface world.

Mera

Since the next scene involved the Gorton’s Fisherman’s icy attack against Mera, we haven’t gotten a chance to see where Johns intends to go with this. I’m hoping that Shelby and I will get our wish soon, and we’ll be seeing Mera finally grow into a more compelling character. Now that we are on the topic of compelling characters, let’s talk about one that Geoff Johns has taken from the depths of Comic Book Limbo and resuscitated into someone I find confoundingly interesting: Vulko.

Vulko

Shelby, I’m just as confused as you are about how Vulko sees things panning out for him. He could be on the fast track to death row right now, but he still savors the opportunity to assist Arthur. However, this is where you and I disagree, Shelby, as I actually do trust Vulko. From the moment he started his incredibly misguided plans that led to Throne of Atlantis, he’s known that it would lead him to those rusty chains we see him in above. He’s wanted nothing more than to help Arthur, so I don’t believe he’d start leading him down the wrong path now. Regardless of his motivations, I somehow find myself starting to like this character. Sure, he’s a murderer and Arthur should definitely be somewhat weary of his advice, but I’m finding myself not necessarily being sympathetic of the character, but at least wanting to see more of him if only to see more of his multifaceted nature.

I’m extremely curious about the majority of the characters featured in this book (sorry Mera), and I’m wondering what Geoff Johns is planning on doing with Vulko, Orm, Murk and the newly introduced Tula. In a reality that once was, she was Aquagirl so I’m anxious to find out if she really will go through with whatever machinations she’s got cooking up or if she’ll decide to trust her new king in the end. Whatever happens, I’m so pleased that this series has finally found its sea legs, and despite how horrible that joke was, this book is quickly climbing my must read list each month.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

5 comments on “Aquaman 18

  1. It’s not Vulko’s intentions that I mistrust; he has shown to have nothing but good intentions towards Arthur this whole time. It’s his actions, the actual execution of his intentions that I can’t totally rely on; let us not forget that he’s in those chains for starting a war that killed innocent Atlanteans as well as surface-dwellers. I’m sure he means well, but if someone pushes one person under a bus to save another, I’m not going to trust him to help me across the street.

    • Yeah, I see your point. I totally think Arthur should be very careful around him, but I can’t help but kind of like the guy. I don’t know why I do, and it actually makes me a bit uncomfortable that I do. Like, I actually felt bad seeing him in those chains. Dude is a straight up killer, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!?

  2. Tula should sleep with one eye open, considering that in original continuity, she died in toxic waters during Crisis on Infinite Earths. And even in the Young Justice cartoon, she joined the team and died in the line of duty sometime during the 5 Year Gap between Seasons 1 and 2.

    Just saying, I’d be watching my back if I were her.

    • Well, hopefully this’ll be her chance to, ya know, not die. I don’t know if she’ll ever be “Aquagirl” but I do hope she’ll become an ally of Aquaman at least. Lord knows he could use one.

      Incidentally, I LOVE her new design.

  3. I agree with Shelby that Mera is being underutilized. She was the breakout star of Blackest Night, but once Arthur came back she started playing second string. In Brightest Day they slightly played on her being the bred to kill Arthur, hopefully they can bring that kind of drama back to the main story. She needs to be more than a B story.

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