Current Reviews


Aquaman #13

Posted: Monday, December 15, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: John Ostrander
Artists: James Bosch (p), Ray Snyder (i)

Publisher: D.C. Comics

As a young girl and her parents find themselves far from shore when they are caught up in the grip of a massive storm, we see it falls upon Aquaman to get these people to safety. However, with the storm intensifying, we see the only plan that Aquaman is allowed to come up with has him rushing the daughter to shore while leaving behind the parents, who apparently have never heard of lifejackets, as they are killed before Aquaman can make it back to rescue them.

John Ostrander was one of my favorite writers in the late 1980s/early 1990s due largely to his run on "Suicide Squad", though I also remember enjoying his work on "Firestorm" a fair bit, and his work on the "Spectre" is the best that character has ever been. Since then he's turned in several Western based comics that have acted to convinced me that my instincts as a teen about his being a good writer were correct. It's this admiration for his ability that is largely responsible for my disappointment with this guest-issue, as it's an utterly predictable read with an ending that I found myself a bit annoyed with, as it presents Aquaman as a completely ineffectual hero. Now I realize that he can't save everyone, and Mother Nature makes for a pretty formidable opponent. However, the plan is entirely dependent on Aquaman willing to leave behind a person because doing so will allow him to make it back to rescue the people he left behind faster. However, in order to give this ending the punch that it needed this extra speed wasn't enough, and the people he left behind were killed. However this ending that leaves me asking obvious questions like why Aquaman didn't leave behind some of his aquatic allies to keep an eye on the two he left in the middle of the storm, or why didn't he keep pushing for the eye of the storm so he could leave the people in a relatively safe local as he ferried them to safety. I don't care much for stories that present heroes as incompetent simply to deliver a tragic ending.

As for the art, James Bosch turns in a fairly solid issue when it comes to selling the fury of the storm that the small boat is caught up in, with the opening shot of the chaos when the daughter comes up on deck to discover what's going on being particularly impressive. The scene where Aquaman parts the wave is also nicely presented, as while it's a completely new ability, the art clearly details the idea that Aquaman is the one responsible for this impressive feat. However, the art is a bit weak when it comes to selling the dangers that Aquaman encounters while he's making his way back to the boat, as the elemental fury of the water spout that Aquaman has to escape from isn't nearly as harrowing as it needed to be, and the scene where he's struck by lightening is almost cartoonish in it's appearance. The scene where he discovers the wreckage, and then the bodies is fairly powerful though.

Final Word:
Aquaman can't be an easy character to write as right from the word go one has a string of canceled series to sell the idea that this is a limited character whose primary abilities are to talk to fishes and breath underwater. However, I was rather excited by the prospect of this guest-issue by John Ostrander as he's proven in the past that he's able to inject some much needed life and energy into characters in dire need of this attention. However, perhaps this being a guest issue and all John Ostrander simply wasn't able to work his magic, and as such he was stuck delivering a run-of-the-mill adventure that feels like he didn't have the time, or simply didn't feel the need to address some fairly important elements of the story, that really needed to be touched upon. I mean in order to sell the idea that a character wasn't able to save someone, you first have to present a situation where the hero did everything he could to prevent these deaths, and this simply isn't the case in this issue. I'm also not completely sold on Aquaman's new water control abilities, though I must confess that the scene where he parts the wave was pretty impressive.

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