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Aquaman #26

Posted: Tuesday, January 25, 2005
By: Jason Cornwell



"Retroverse One"

Writer: John Arcudi
Pencils: Patrick Gleason
Inks: Christina Alamy
Colors: Nathan Eyring
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Publisher: D.C. Comics
$2.50 U.S. / $3.85 CAN

Plot:
Sub-Diego lies under the tyrannical grip of a ruthless despot by the name of Aquaman, and we see the slightest misdeed results in a summary execution. However, we see there is one individual who recognizes that there is something very wrong with this picture, but he's quickly taken captive by Aquaman. The issue than end with the arrival of Aquaman's brother, the Ocean Master, who looks to be a heroic figure in this mixed up scenario.

Comments:
Essentially this is an alternate reality story where it would appear that Aquaman and Ocean Master have switched roles, as Ocean Master looks to have taken on the role of Sub-Diego's protector, while Aquaman is the outcast who looks to be forever trying to overthrow his brother's rule. However, since Ocean Master is a villain he's guilty of a gross misuse of his position of power, as he rules Sub Diego with an iron fist, while Aquaman looks to be a Robin Hood type figure as he attempts the save the city from his brother's unkind attentions. Now this through the Looking Glass style story is pretty familiar terrain when it comes to comics, and John Arcudi doesn't exactly add anything new to the format, as one would have to be pretty new to the game to be surprised by the last page development this issue offers up. Still, the issue does a pretty good job of playing it's cards close to its vest in the early pages, and it's genuinely surprising when the story introduces us to Aquaman. However after this little surprise, it becomes pretty clear where the story is heading, and John Arcudi sticks to the predictable path. Still, it should be interesting to see how this mixed up world came into existence, and I'm looking forward to getting the solution to this mystery. I also have to say it's rather refreshing to discover that this arc is only going to be a couple issues long, as this makes it a bit of a rarity in an industry where most stories are written to be collected in the trade paperback format.

Patrick Gleason turns in a lovely issue, as the art manages to clearly detail the action while playing along with the writing's effort to keep the truth of the situation conceal until the last possible moment. This is turn results in a couple highly effective reveal moments, such as the page where Aquaman is introduced to the reading audience, or the final page twist. The art also manages to do a pretty effective job conveying the action, from the sense of looming danger in the opening pages as we see a group of teens fall victim to Aquaman's harsh brand of justice, to the visual excitement that comes with Aquagirl's arrival. I also rather enjoyed the new costume designs that he comes up with for this new reality, from the decidedly ruthless appearance of Aquaman, to the regal appearance of the Ocean Master on the final page. The cover image also gives us a good look at Aquagirl's costume, and I hope it sticks around after this arc wraps up, as it's a decided improvement over the non-costume she had been sporting.



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