Writer: John Arcudi
Artists: Patrick Gleason (p), Christian Alamy and Mick Gray (i), Nathan Eyring (colors)
Publisher: DC Comics
Plot: As Geist manages to survive the Ocean Master's attack thanks to Aquaman's efforts, the displaced biologist rewards Arthur by telling him the life path he's currently living out is all a magically enforced illusion. Armed with this new knowledge Aquaman returns to do battle with his half-brother, and along the way he manages to uncover the source of the magic spell that enabled the Ocean Master to switch lives with him.
Comments: John Arcudi is doing a pretty good job of playing up Aquaman's strengths, as there's a couple solid moments in this issue where it's clearly established that the ability to talk to sea life is not as lame a power as many comic fans would suggest. As a long time Aquaman reader, I have to say the whale body slam trick is hardly the most innovative use of this ability; I've seen it used at least a half dozen times over the years. Still, there is a genuine sense that John Arcudi is having fun playing with Aquaman, and I'd encourage readers who have never taken Aquaman seriously to give this issue a read as it does a very effective job of capturing how impressive the character can be when the writer wants to impress readers with the character's power levels. The issue also serves as a pretty good jumping on point for new readers in spite of it being the second chapter of a two-part adventure, thanks largely to an engaging summation of Aquaman's origin. Even though I'm quite familiar with the character's back story, it's told with effective clarity, and it's nice to see John Arcudi taking the time to bring newer readers up to speed. Plus long-time readers are in for an unexpected surprise as an element from the character's last series makes its return in this issue as the source of the Ocean Master's spell, which made for a clever use of continuity. Plus, I also enjoyed the return of Aquaman's angry side, as frankly the character has mellowed out a little too much in this current series, and it's nice to see him regain a bit of his edge.
It's clear Patrick Gleason is more than up to the task of delivering the action that drives this book, as there are several lovely big impact visuals, from the whale body slam, to the explosion of magical energy that erupts after Aquaman lashes out at the source of the Ocean Master's spell. The art also has a level of detail that can't help but impress, as the action is not only clearly presented, but there's a wealth of background details to make one take the time to explore the underwater environment that Patrick Gleason has taken such pains to deliver. I mean every panel is full of sea life, and visual cues that the action is taking place beneath the waves, and the art does a lovely job of conveying the idea that this is an alien environment. There's also some solid emotional moments from the cold fury on the face of Aquagirl as she lashes out at the trapped Aquaman, to the murderous rage on Aquaman's face as he demands his life be returned to him.
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