The Aquaman Rebirth #1 was a great introduction to the titular Atlantean. Writer Dan Abnett set up a lot of promising plot threads to explore and he wastes no time in delivering on them in the series first official issue.
The Rebirth one-shot ended with Aquaman’s nemesis, Black Manta, promising to kill Aquaman’s girlfriend Mera. So, Abnett starts the issue by showing us what a great couple she and Arthur Curry make. Manta said losing Mera would shake Arthur’s foundation and the way she reassures him in this scene makes it clear just how true that is. However, the scene is also about getting us to like her. In fact, the whole issue is kind of about showing us how great she is so that the ending–when Manta seems to fatally sting her–is that much more dramatic.
Before that happens, though, there’s a lot of great stuff in between. Building a world and a cast of characters without making it seem like a chore for readers is a tough task, but Abnett is so smart about it you don’t even realize you’re being fed a bunch of exposition. When we’re brought to the first land-dweller/Atlantean meeting at the Spindrift embassy, we see it through the awestruck, human eyes of Joanna Stubbs, a Royal Naval officer acting as Britain’s ambassador. The reader identifies with her as she encounters this new world and then begins to like her as she starts a casual flirtation with an Atlantean officer names Sark. It’s a clever choice that makes us excited to follow both characters as the book goes on—which is why it’s so shocking when one of them gets stabbed later. It’s episodic comic book storytelling at it finest and watching Abnett work is almost as enjoyable as the story itself.
If the book has one weak spot, though, it’s the art. Penciller Brad Walker’s work is functional if unremarkable. It’s the big-muscled, big-boobed style of the mainstream comic. And while that may not bother most, Abnett’s work is so strong that it seems unfair that the drawings telling his story aren’t a little more distinct. Regardless, this series is worth picking up.
When the whole two issues per month thing was first announced, it seemed like a bad idea. Surely the writers and probably even the readers would be exhausted by the accelerated storytelling. It’s still too early to tell if that will happen, but when it comes to Aquaman, two weeks between issues already feels too long to wait to find out where Abnett will take us next.