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Aquaman #8

Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Rick Vietch
Artists: Yvel Guichet (p), Mark Propst (i)

Publisher: DC

Plot:
With Aquaman thrown off his game by the toxic chemicals his body is trying to absorb, and Garth physically exhausted after he rids Arthur's body of these chemicals using his magic, we see the Thirst is able to drain yet another river goddess dry. However, the two soon find aid from a very unexpected source, as the Black Manta arrives on the scene, and Aquaman makes a rather surprising discovery about his longtime nemesis.

Comments:
The first time I encountered it I simply ignored it, as I simply assumed Rick Veitch really wanted to press the point, and make sure it was clearly understood by the readers. The second time, I do believe I made mention of it, but I offered up the excuse that I had used to explain it away the first time. However, this issue it's clear that it's a writing style choice, and I have to say that I'm not particularly fond of it's use. Rick Veitch has the rather annoying habit of explain plot points twice, as this book opens with a look at the hell Black Manta went through as a child, and than we get a scene later in the book where Aquaman basically offers up the entire opening scene once again. Now I realize that the story has to explain how Aquaman comes to possess this knowledge about Black Manta's past, and by showing his reaction Rick Veitch is afforded a somewhat easier job when it comes to convincing us that Aquaman would be willing to fight alongside the man who killed his son. However, this repeated plot information feels like Rick Veitch is padding what I feel is a rather thin story, but even more disappointing is that it suggests that he didn't trust the reader to make the connection on their own so he took it upon himself to hold us by the hand as he took us down the path he wants us to take. Frankly I found this perceived lack of intelligence a bit insulting.

As for the art, first off I have to credit Ethan Van Sciver for this issue's absolutely gorgeous cover, as even though it has nothing to do with the story inside, it's a great looking piece of work. Meanwhile, on the interior art regular artist Yvel Guichet returns to deliver a visually powerful opening that nicely details the plight of the young Black Manta. The action involving the Thirst is also well handled with the scene where the river goddess is suddenly drained dry being a particularly effective visual.

Final Word:
With this week's issue of "Amazing Spider-Man" also evoking feels of sympathy for the criminal mind, I have to say that I wasn't overly impressed by this issue's move to explain away decades of villainy by the Black Manta as the result of mental illness. I mean Aquaman's rogues gallery is already thin enough without writers making an active effort to reform the ones that have actually been proven performers. Now I will concede that there is a certain appeal to making Aquaman work along side the man who killed his son, as there's some nice tension brewing, that you just know will explode before this arc wraps up. Having the Black Manta repeat the line of dialogue that he uttered before he escaped from Arkham also seems to suggest that the character isn't completely cured of the element that made him a ruthless villain, and Aquaman had best keep a very close eye on his new ally. I also like that the Underworld Unleashed transformation has been canceled out.



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