Aquaman #7: Black Manta’s Back
Could there be more to Aquaman than just controlling sea life and breathing underwater? According to the new Aquaman, penned by Geoff Johns, there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye. Who are The Others and how do they play into the discovery of the fate of Atlantis? The answer to those questions start with Aquaman #7. Johns is taking the legacy of our aquatic hero into a new direction by introducing what could be a former team or a new threat or both.
The greatest threat Aquaman has ever faced, aka Black Manta, has been curiously absent from the new series. As a long time fan, I began to wonder if Manta’s bulbous helmet would ever find its way into Aquaman. Johns brings Manta back with great style and viciousness. Issue #7 opens with a woman known as Kahina The Seer being stalked by Black Manta. Johns really wants to push how sadistic this Manta is, so the harshness of these opening panels is exceptional. Manta hunts Kahina down and slaughters her, the whole time claiming that Aquaman will lose everything as he has. Black Manta is scarred both physically and emotionally. Within the first pages, we see that a new Manta is born.
Switching gears back to Aquaman and his lady Mera, the two aquatic lovers are trying to save as many ships as the can from one of the worst storms in New England history. After saving the mortals they turn their attention to Dr. Stephen Chin. There’s a history between Arthur and Chin, a secretive one with dark overtones. While there is no trust between the two, Arthur knows that Chin can help decipher the Atlantean relic and possibly help discover who or what sunk Atlantis.
No sooner do things get interesting with Shin than another member of The Others, a pissed off huntress named Ya’Wara, leaps out of a golden orb and tries to kill him. Why does she hate Chin? Who are The Others and why doesn’t Mera know about any of this? The end of issue #7 is a cliffhanger of epic proportions, one that should keep the excitement of Aquaman going.
Johns does here what writer Scott Snyder has done with Batman. By respecting the source material and spending the first six issues reestablishing the greatness of Aquaman, Johns slides the new angles he’s created into the story perfectly. This new arc doesn’t jar the long time fan or confuse the new reader, it just gives a new layer to the legacy of Aquaman.
The art from Ivan Reis is glorious. It’s especially wonderful during the opening section with Black Manta. Reis just lets go in these panels and the violence and action are above reproach. I was also impressed with the storm scenes, Reis does a great job of capturing the power of the sea. With Reis on art and Johns using his full creative juices, Aquaman is constantly setting the bar higher and higher.
(4.5 Story, 4.5 Art)