Aquaman: Deep Dives #1 review

The strip begins with Mera addressing the United Nations regarding the status of Atlantis, something she seems to do weekly. Arthur, glad to no longer be the diplomat in the family, is watching proudly when he’s called to a disturbance at New York’s Museum of Unnatural History.

Black Manta has arrived to steal an Atlantean artefact which had been put with the articles from Themyscira, misfiled, the villain assumes. Fighting commences.

And that’s as much as I’ll say, as writer Steve Orlando works hard to give us a satisfying 16pp story and I recommend you buy it. Hey, it’s only 99pence/cents. And if you read it as originally presented in a recent Aquaman 100pp giant, why the heck didn’t you tell me?

You might have mentioned that Orlando gives us an Aquaman in touch with his heritage, one who won’t let a foe kill himself with stupidity. He gives us a classic Black Manta, more liable to bore you to death with speeches than skewer you with an ancient weapon. And Orlando gives us the aforementioned museum, a fabulous concept he came up with for his Justice League of America run – other writers should get in on the mystic antiquities fun. Plus, a million points for the reference to the Mermazons, an obscure race of beings that goes right back to the Golden Age.

Do we really need another Aquaman vs Black Manta battle? No, but we didn’t need the last dozen or so, and the fight in ‘Double-Edged’ is pretty darn entertaining.

I’ve never been disappointed by a Daniel Sampere art job, and he comes up trumps again here, with powerfully pencilled pages that perfectly capture a day in the life of the DC Universe – elegant Atlanteans, murderous energy blasts, fleeing citizens… it’s everything I want in a straightforward hero vs villain affair.

Anyone know who the fin-looking fella in the foreground of the Atlantean delegation is?

Juan Albarran’s inks are as sharp as Poseidon’s trident, while Adriano Lucas’s colours positively glow. There isn’t a bad page, indeed, several are outstanding, not least the spread of good guy and bad guy in searing battle. Kudos, too, to letterer Wes Abbott for his usual great job, and illustrator Liam Sharpe and colourist Romulo Fajardo Jr for a cracking cover. I especially like how the trade dress tones with the giant octopus, the illo plays better than on the original Aquaman giant.

One of the new DC Digital First books, Aquaman: Deep Dives is a breezy, fun read and I hope we get many more issues.

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