Writer: Rick Veitch
Artists: Sal Velluto (p), Bob Almond (i)
The book opens with Aquaman & Tempest locked into a trance, as we see while their bodies are in the lighthouse, their minds are in the Secret Sea, where Aquaman is trying to figure out from the Lady of the Lake how he can repair the damage he unleashed when he used his magic hand in anger. After he gets an earful for his reckless use of the gift he was given we see Aquaman is directed to a massive bridge-like structure called the Heavenspan, that looks to stretch on into infinity. We then see Arthur & Garth make their way down this bridge, and after they each are compelled to confess a hidden sin to a troll that guards the bridge, the two find themselves reunited with their physical bodies, when they dive into the waters that have suddenly materialized beneath the bridge. We then look in on the evil that is the Thirst, as we see he has located the first of the river goddess and in spite of a considerable effort to protect herself and her river, the Thirst and his undead army manage to overpower this powerful entity. We then see Aquaman arrives, but we see he's arrived too late to save this river goddess. What's more the Thirst manages to strike a blow against Aquaman, when our hero finds one of the fingers on his magic hand is consumed by the Thirst, and one gets the sense that there's very little Aquaman can do to stop this creature.
I can deal with this book taking on a decidedly metaphysical tone, as we have the rivers of the world being represented by the various women who populate the Secret Sea, and Aquaman spends most of this issue making his way across a seemingly endless parade of bridges, that look striking similar to the bridges from around the globe. I can even handle the idea of the Thirst moving about on a flying ship populated by the zombies of his past victims. In fact this last detail has me willing to overlook the rather irksome dialogue style that Rick Veitch has saddled the character with, as I can't wait to see Aquaman start busting some heads as he wades through the Thirst's zombie army. However, I am having difficulty with the idea of Aquaman being given very little to do in this current story. I mean most of the issue is devoted to Aquaman & Tempest locating Thirst via the magic bridge, and when they do locate the villain, Aquaman is given little more to do than stand & listen while the Thirst delivers his villainous rant about how he's going to leave the world a dried up husk. Now I'm all for building up a villain early in a story, as I'm always after writers who present villains who are little better than punching bags for the heroes to lay into. On the other hand, I also have a problem with heroes who are given little more to do in a book than sit on their hands.
The one thing that leaves me a bit concerned in that in the opening pages of this issue we see Aquaman has to take a decidedly apologetic stance when it comes to his rather abrupt manner of dealing with problems. Now I have no problem with a hero willing to admit to having made a mistake, but one of the primary reasons I've always considered myself an Aquaman fan is that he never apologized for his actions. In mean Aquaman makes a decision & stands by it, and this stubborn stance has resulted in some fairly powerful confrontations with fellow heroes, and it's also cost him dearly, as he's lost a child & his marriage was effectively shattered. In fact his current problems are the direct result of his willingness to make a decision & carry it out no matter what the cost may be. I like my Aquaman stubborn, and extremely reluctant to admit he was wrong, but Rick Veitch doesn't really have the character defending his actions but rather he's whining about how he's not responsible for the evil he's unleashed because they didn't tell him he couldn't use the hand in anger. In fact I'm not so sure I care much for that restriction either, as Aquaman's short fuse is another one of his more endearing qualities, and I'd hate to see it lost because his magic hand would unleash an evil upon the world. Then again given the quick fix element of the hand, I wouldn't mind seeing it's use limited by Aquaman being unable to use it as a weapon.
I have to say that it's becoming rather nice to see Sal Velluto & Bob Almond have found their way over to the DC side of the fence, as I was rather annoyed when they were unceremoniously dumped from the pages of the "Black Panther", but in the past couple months they've been making their presence known over in the "J.S.A.", and now they look to be providing the art for at least the next couple issues of this book. Their highly detailed work is certainly a welcome sight in these pages, as the more surreal aspects of the material require the art to be quite clear as to what it's trying to show us, and the art manages to really sell the more impressive ideas. From the Heavenspan bridge that looks to be a never ending expanse on the double-page spread that opens the issue, to our first look at the Thirst's flying ship, the art really sells the scale that the material is trying to convey. Now I was a little confused by a couple details, as on page eleven it looks like Superman's using his heat vision to investigate Aquaman's disappearance (is that suppose to be his X-ray vision?), and I have serious reservations about one being able to surf on a tire, as the hole in the middle would create enough drag that they would be sucked under the water before you even made it a couple feet. Now the fridge door would've been a far better choice.
An issue that manages to lend a nice sense of grandeur to the Secret Sea, and I must confess I rather like the idea of a massive bridge structure that binds together all the rivers of the world. I'll also give this book marks for making the Thirst into a fairly formidable presence though I could've done without the rather irksome speech pattern. However, even with these enjoyable elements the simple fact of the matter is that this is yet another issue where Aquaman does very little, and while I realize the value of setting up a scenario for the hero to face, I buy this book to follow the adventures of Aquaman, and I'm getting a bit disillusioned with this book's continued lack of action involving our hero. I mean, it's all well and good to develop a sense of foreboding, but there comes a time in the story when the hero does have to step up to the plate, and thus far this book has spent two entire issues detailing Aquaman's efforts to make it to the party. It also doesn't help that the hurdles that are placed before Aquaman in this issue are so easily overcome.
What did you think of this book?
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