Captured by Ninth Tride crime lord Krush and his hitman Kadaver, Aquaman and Dolphin are at the mercy of this mutated mob boss, his lackeys, and his monsters.
Vulko continues to narrowly slip by Murk and the Atlantean police. To aid his efforts, the Widowhood send some back-up for the former advisor to the king.
Mera searches for help from an old friend: Tempest of the Titans.
There is magic in watching a consummate professional like Dan Abnett maneuver through the characters he’s set up on the board. Nothing feels wasted. No one feels boring or out of place. It all feels interesting, and it’s all compelling. I want to see what Vulko will do next. I want to see how Murk will cope when he finds that his old friend and king is still alive. I want to watch the odd partnership of Arthur and Dolphin. I want to see how Mera will convince Garth to go back to Atlantean sorcery.
If there is a weak point in this story, it is the interaction between Aquaman and Krush. Krush claims to represent all of the mutated “taintbloods” of the Ninth Tride whom the throne has always condemned and cast down. This would be a decent moment to see how Aquaman dealt with this old Atlantean bigotry and what he did for or against the taintbloods during his monarchy. However, we don’t. We don’t get to see what Aquaman did in regards to these people, and he kind of gets an easy out because he (rightly) posits that Krush is working directly under Corum Rath anyway.
Maybe this will be acknowledged and made right later on. Maybe Arthur will make sure to help them when he gets the throne back. That doesn’t fix that Arthur has been sort of absolved here without us knowing how he handled this situation before. And, no partnering with the conventionally attractive Dolphin and her minor mutations does not indicate that he’s been good to giant crab people and anthropomorphic sharks.
Admittedly, this is one minor neglect of the story. You watch the dialogue awkwardly skirt around this question, but it can be ignored as one moves through the narrative. The rest of the comic is still compelling. Watching Vulko trying to establish a partnership with the Widowhood’s envoy is cool. You feel for Garth as Mera asks him to return to the Atlantean magics he swore off (something you’ve been made privy too if you read this month’s Titans, also by Dan Abnett).
You don’t get the epic smackdown between the massive Krush and Aquaman yet, but I imagine that’s coming, unless this guy ends up tangling with Murk (just a random theory that kind of makes sense).
I don’t know what to say about Stepjan Sejic’s art that I haven’t already. This guy is absolutely freaking incredible. His shapes, forms, and colors are masterfully composed. This dude is a living legend in the making on par with Alex Ross, Adi Granov, and Gabrielle Dell’Otto. Just look at the panel above. That’s all that needs to be said.
Well that, and Krush’s eye stalks are freaking creepy and weird. They’re on the cover. Just look at those things. They’re not right! There’s something just so off about them!
Despite some minor quibbles, this is still another fantastic issue of Aquaman. It’s easily among DC’s best books right now, and you should be reading it.
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