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Aquaman #15

Posted: Friday, February 13, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Will Pfeifer
Artists: Patrick Gleason (p), Christian Alamy (i)

Publisher: D.C. Comics

The Plot:
When half the city of San Diego plunges into the ocean, we see Aquaman arrives in time to discover there are no survivors. With over four-hundred thousand dead, we see the situation takes a bizarre turn when a child that was believed killed emerges from the ocean more than a month after the event very much alive. However, when this child dies on route to the hospital we make a strange discovery about why this child was alive more than a month after the tragedy.

The Good:
Will Pfeifer certainly knows who to make an impression on readers, as while this opening sequence would've packed more punch if all the hype leading up to this issue hadn't already revealed the nature of the tragedy that kicks off this new direction, I will concede that the sheer scale of this event is nicely conveyed, and Aquaman's fruitless efforts in the opening pages do a wonderful job conveying the collective sense of grief. There's also a fairly powerful little speech by the President of the United States (though I have to confess I wasn't aware Lex Luthor was no longer holding this job), that manages to nicely capture the sense of frustration that one feels in the aftermath of an event where one can't point to the party responsible, and gain a sense of gratification when steps are taken to bring this person, or group to justice for their crime. There's also a fairly interesting mystery introduced in the final pages of this issue that again would've been more effective if it hadn't already been discussed in detail in the preview material, and interviews that Will Pfeifer held before this first issue's arrival. However, I understand why DC and Will Pfeifer were inclined to reveal most of the plot for this first issue, as they are trying to draw in new readers, and as such they have to offer up a fair bit of information to get some of the undecided off the fence. I just hope that they pull it back under control, as there's nothing worse than a creative team who can't keep themselves from discussing their upcoming plots twists.

Patrick Gleason turns in a memorable opening sequence, as he perfectly captures the surreal quality of this situation, while at the same time one is slowly made aware of the enormity of this tragedy, with Aquaman's reaction after he discovers the one survivor is revealed to be a false hope being a particularly effective moment. The scene where Aquaman emerges from the ocean to inform the gathered rescuers that there are no survivors was also a powerful moment, and the art nicely conveys the sense of devastation that washes over the crowd when Aquaman makes his statement. The sequence where the young boy emerges from the ocean is also worth a mention, as the art manages to sell the desperation of the people trying to save his life, and the scene where Aquaman makes his second appearance in these pages has a nice solemn quality to it. There's also some nice little moments like the sense of wonder on the face of the woman as she passes her hand through Aquaman's hand, or the shot from inside the body looking out, as they examine the stomach contents.

The Bad:
This is a new direction for the character of Aquaman, with a new creative team and a fair bit of coverage in the various comic magazines/web-sites. With this in mind one hopes that new fans would be drawn in to the fold, and while I'll concede that this issue starts off with a bang that is sure to capture the attention of most readers, the simple fact of the matter is that our big brave hero is given precious little to do in this opening chapter. I mean in the opening half of the story he effectively acts as a tour guide of the devastation, and the figure who erases all sense of hope as he emerges from the ocean to tell the assembled rescue teams there are no survivors. The second half has him guiding the hand of the medical examiner, as they attempt to discover how it's possible that a young boy who was presumable killed during the event could emerge from the ocean more than a month after the fact very much alive, only to die on route to the hospital. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that the story itself is very much the star of the issue, while Aquaman is little better than a plot device that is used to provide the key information that readers need to enjoy this adventure. Here's hoping now that the premise has been set up, Aquaman's role in the story becomes more pronounced, as the new readers need to see why they should become fans of this hero, something which this issue doesn't really manage to accomplish.

Splish-Splash, I Was Taking A Bath:
If the preview material and interviews hadn't already done a pretty fair job of spoiling this issue's surprises well in advance of this issue's actual release, I do believe I'd be perfectly willing to list this issue as one of the most shocking events in Aquaman's history since he had his left hand consumed by piranhas. As it stand this is an exciting start for the new creative team, as they start off big, and manage to keep the interest level quite high thanks to an engaging little mystery. I also have to say I'm rather pleased by this book's return to the character's old look, as while I was never a big booster of the original costume, my inner fanboy is pleased to see it back, as if nothing else it makes the character instantly recognizable as it's a look that has been pretty much stamped itself on the public consciousness. Plus in spite of the clashing colors I have to say the costume holds up better than I remember, and it nicely reflects his aquatic nature. In any event this is a fairly promising start to what I'm hoping is Aquaman's return to the DCU, and here's hoping a return to the JLA lineup is in the cards.



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