Thursday, January 26, 2012

Aquaman #5

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis
Company: DC Comics

What happens when you drop Arthur Curry in the middle of the desert? That's the question that Geoff Johns asks and answers in this issue of Aquaman. In all seriousness, Johns is on a hot-streak these days. All three of his titles, Green Lantern/Aquaman/Justice League, border on the good to great. For me, Aquaman has been the breakout. The way that's he humanized Arthur while at the same time showing what makes him a hero when most people think he's just a joke, has gone a long way to make fans flock to the title. It also doesn't hurt that Johns is doing unexpected things, zigs and zags when you're expecting straightforward tales.

This issue, the start of a new storyline, continues to do that. There are times in comics when the back and forth time flips from present to the past can sometimes feel, for lack of a better word, jumpy. They often feel confusing and read like someone was shaking an Etch A Sketch with the force of a hurricane, but Johns does a great job of handling the transitions of Arthur being stranded in the desert to 20 hours ahead of time. He keeps them tight and readable, therefore preserving a higher fun factor. The pace of the story is also quite nice. There's a crisp juggling act going on here that involves human interaction, exposition, and action. It's got the full complement, in comic book terms.

What happens in this issue definitely has a "done in one" feel to it, but it's obvious that Johns is also planting a lot of seeds for stories to come. That's a trademark move, one that paid off for Green Lantern. Here though, it's interesting to see things such as Atlantis brought up and teased as this super technologically advanced city. Mera's motives and persona are also explored to the point where she actually feels like a real character instead of merely female background fodder. And then there is the notion of an Atlantis Special Forces group, which is an idea that makes the kid in me jump for joy. The adult in me thinks it's a fairly neat idea too, by the way.

Drawing this cavalcade of entertainment with such precision is Ivan (Blackest Night) Reis. The realism that he provides in his lines is stunning, but Reis doesn't seem stuck in his realism. In a lot of ways, the art vibe is the same sort of vibe that I got from Olivier Coipel's work on Thor. There's just an energy to it that feels both comic book-y and real at the same time. It's this suspension of styles that makes it perfect and very approachable. One of the best examples of this is the scene with Arthur falling and slamming into the floor of the desert. It's simple looking, but it has such an impact to it. The progression of the character as he's falling through the vast blue space is pitch perfect. The same can also be said for his various action scenes and more personal character moments too.

Each issue of Aquaman surpasses the previous one. If the trend continues, and Johns' can pull off a bit more of the same magic that he has in the past, then I can easily see that we've got one heck of a story coming down the pipeline. Viva Aquaman!

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