"With the Fishes, Part 2"
Writer: Will Pfeifer
Artists: Patrick Gleason (p), Christian Alamy (i)
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Armed with a power dampening device Aquaman makes pretty quick work of the Eel, but when the villain is able to use his remaining power to damage the device, we see Aquaman quickly has a fight on his hands. While it's clearly established that the Eel is more powerful than Aquaman, we see experience wins the day as Aquaman is able to outthink his opponent, and he gives the defeated Eel a warning to pass along down the super-villain grapevine.
Will Pfeifer puts on a wonderful display of how to deliver a knockdown, dragout battle between a hero and a villain, as this is essentially an issue long clash between the Eel and Aquaman, that displays a great understanding of the simple idea that such battles are far more engaging when both characters are allowed moments where it looks like they're going to emerge as the winner. I'll never quite understand how readers can find any real enjoyment in a battle where the hero is clearly established as the winner before the first punch is thrown, and I have to say if all comic book battles were as even-handed as this issue's clash than I would be a very happy fanboy. I also have to say given Aquaman's rogues gallery isn't exactly loaded with threats, it's great to see the Eel make such an impressive debut, as after this battle I'm already anticipating the rematch. This is a very solid bit of action as the two character trade attacks and they both walk away from the encounter looking like genuine threats, with Aquaman's victory coming about thanks to an imaginative use of his abilities. Also while it's a throwaway scene I have to say I rather enjoyed the opening exchange between Batman and Aquaman as while they've worked together in the JLA, the two characters have never really interacted all that much, and this issue does a nice job of underlining the similar abrasive personalities that the two share.
Patrick Gleason is given an ideal issue for an artist to impress readers, as this is an action heavy read with several big impact shots to grab the attention of readers, from Aquaman's explosive arrival in the Eel's secret base, to the equally impressive display of power after the Eel manages to disable the power sapping device. I also have to say I was truly impressed by how well the art managed to display the extent of the Eel's new abilities, from the rain of icicles that take out the detectives, to the decidedly horrific visual where we see Aquaman's blood falls victim to the Eel's abilities. There's also a lovely visual image where we see Aquaman's microscopic army hovering in place before his face. My only quibble with the art on this issue is that the Eel's costume design was a bit generic, and lacked any real sense of imagination.
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