Aquaman #39 review

Atlantis has been raised from the sea, a subconscious wish by Aquaman acted on by magical metal. The surface world is deeply suspicious and Amanda Waller has sent the Suicide Squad to bomb Atlantis back under the water. And if some people die…

…actually, despite being criminals, not all the Squad members – specifically Harley Quinn and Deadshot – are OK with this plan. They’d been led to believe it would be a simple case of repositioning via the magic of Lord Satanus. But the payload the old Superman foe is carrying is a ‘mystically enhanced thermonuclear device’.

Meanwhile, in the former undersea city, Mera has been crowned queen, and while she wants to keep the United Nations calm, it’s not her main priority.

As for Aquaman, he’s not stupid.

Writer Dan Abnett is off this series soon and I’m not thrilled; issues as strong as this – which is pretty much all of them – show he’s nowhere near spent with the characters. There’s Aquaman, stoic and statesmanlike despite having given up the throne. Mera, learning on the job, the quickest of studies. The Atlantean supporting cast of Murk, Odine, Dolphin and the rest. And when there are guest stars to be served, well, he writes the Suicide Squad as if he’s been their handler for years.

I especially like how he captures the imperiousness of Lord Satanus, the caution of Master Jailer and the particular quirks of regulars Harley, Croc and Deadshot.

Mind, the ‘Satin Anus’ insult he and Suicide Squad writer Rob Williams have come up with is being done to death in this short crossover between the two series (the two Brits are co-plotting, and scripting their ‘home books’).

The guest team of penciller Joe Bennett and inker Vicente Cifuentes bring this book to beautiful life, with characters looking majestic, evil and just plain monstrous as  required. Bennett’s panels layouts have a real energy to them while the internal compositions are tip-top. How’s this for dramatic foreshortening?

443EBF5B-CC90-408B-BD09-7AD170BC9BD3.jpegThere’s a nice subtle touch in the splash page as we see one member of Atlantis’s advisory Widowhood with a traditional scroll, the other with a tablet. And how cute is that wee panicking chap trying to escape the bottom panel on the Harley vs Satanus page?

Cifuentes’ finishes and sharp and stylish, while Adriano Lucas lays down some glorious colours – one thing he does which is new to me is show some water sticking to the scales of Arthur’s scaled chest plate – it’s a nice touch.

83DA2801-8C82-45B3-9C7F-255F58AA4899.jpeg

Letterer Steve Wands has made this book his own with confident, character-appropriate work, and his scene-setting display font will be missed if the next artist doesn’t keep it up.

Artist Rafa Sandoval and colourist FCO Plascencia essay the terrific regular cover, while a different flavour is provided by Joshua Middleton’s gorgeous Mera variant.

A superb issue from start-to-finish, Aquaman #39 deserves to be widely read and praised.

13 thoughts on “Aquaman #39 review

  1. I wonder why, since he’s doing such a good job, Abnett’s being taken off the book. Sounds counter-productive to me to do that.

    Really striking cover though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It seems to be another case of a writer who’s made their name elsewhere being given a top character who already has a great creative team in order to get some publicity. I liked Kelly Sue on Captain Marvel, but why not give her a character not already claimed? Bah!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well exactly. I mean if things are running fine with Abnett, the fans seem to like him and sales must be fine, then there’s no need to change things then unless he’s ready to leave.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree that it’s disappointing to see Abnett eventually go after “saving” this book from the DC You fiasco. Earth 2 also became enjoyable when he took over that book. I’m behind on Titans… Is he still writing that book?

    I like Cifuentes’ inks on Bennett. Bennett’s art tends to lean towards the stiff side, but Cifuentes’ inks soften up his art, and is quite apt for a story set underwater.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Abnett is still on Titans but said in an interview Snyder’s whackadoodle plans scuppered most of his original plans for the book and he now has a cast that screams bad Outsiders cast (or Champions from the 70s) than Titans). Newcomers (who are good at ignoring how nonsensical the post Metal stuff is) should enjoy it much more than readers who have been on since the start,,,

      And magical doorknobs? Really, Snyder?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Snyder needs editors to reign him in. DC has fallen in love with his lunacy, and it is sometimes amazing, but Metal was a mess, IMO, and a lot of what he has done since he left Batman has been extreme.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Yep, still on Titans. The first issue of the new direction wasn’t bad, the second issue was great – better than the last few of the previous direction… though that was likely down to Big Editorial having Abnett prepare the way for the new run.

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  3. First of all, that Mera cover is AMAZING!

    Second, I have loved this run of Aquaman. LOVED IT! However, I am worried about the way DC is positioning Amanda Waller of late. I have always seen Waller as a patriot who will play dirty to protect her nation, but it seems Waller is becoming more villain than patriot of late and it really bothers me.

    Sending people to commit genocide?

    That is a step way too far, IMO, and it causes me to wonder what DC is playing at here. It seems their Rebirth Universe is getting slowly more and more extreme, which makes me think this is leading to another “Reboot” in which the DCU goes back to being less about extremist heroes and villains and more about good old-fashioned super heroics.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like your optimism; whatever is coming, I just wish they’d hurry up – how long has poor old Saturn Girl been in Arkham Asylum now?

      And yeah, I want the basically good, nuanced Waller back. A patriot and a pragmatist, not a murdering fanatic.

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      1. I’ve made peace with the fact that Didio, Johns, and Lee can not produce a line that isn’t dark and distopian. We won’t get the larger than life heros that were the counterpoint to the MCU’s heroes with feet of clay until all three are uninvolved with decision making. Their more hopeful Rebirth was darkened within a year and now we have Doomsday Clock and Snyder’s lunacy making things like Kingdom Come and Dark Knight Returns look like old school Archie in comparison. I’ll buy what doesn’t turn my stomach as a fan from before Johns started doing things like what he did to Black Hand and the Shark and wait for the eventual creator who is nostalgic for the DCU’s truly heroic eras.
        BTW, I hope you do an Archie review because there’s a Kevin Keller point I’ve been dying to make…

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  4. It’s funny, wasn’t Johns behind Rebirth? I thought he was all for brightening up everyone’s lives, bringing back love and whatnot. I think the DCU is darkening again because he has that new position, giving more power to Lee and DiDio.

    Archie 1941, yes? I must buy that, at the very least the art looks terrific.

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