Aquaman #13: Black Manta Down
Writer Geoff Johns has decided to hit the brakes rather suddenly on Aquaman. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean he’s leaving the series [editor's note: at least not yet] – I mean he’s brought the in-depth story arc featuring Black Manta to a rather abrupt end. So much was introduced in this story-arc, from Aquaman’s former team members to his sordid past with Black Manta to the dark secrets of Atlantis that Aquaman is trying to unlock.
Manta has slaughtered yet another member of Aquaman’s former team. With vengeance in his heart, Arthur (Aquaman) rushes towards a final showdown with his greatest adversary. What Arthur doesn’t know is that Manta has been working for a secret boss the entire time. Stopping to deliver the stolen Scepter of Atlantis to his unknown employer, Manta is attacked by Aquaman and their final battle ensues. Broken limbs, busted noses, lots of ego boasting and an attempt by Black Manta to push Arthur to murder him. Part of Manta’s entire plan was to get Arthur to snap and show those who loved him the darker side of the king.
Arthur doesn't give in, instead rising to the occasion and simply defeating Manta. So, who was the sneaky secret boss? A solid bet would be on Aquaman’s brother Orm, aka Ocean Master. The end of issue thirteen indicates that Aquaman’s next battle will be over the Throne Of Atlantis. Issue #13 is well written and features great action, but it leaves some things out. We don’t get a final look at his former team members. The wrap up of Dr. Shin’s part in this melodrama is also rather shallow. I’m sure in the future these components will come back, but they should have been afforded more time in this issue.
Ivan Reis’ art is, as always, impeccable. Forget how well he draws human forms and faces, forget his ways with panel placement, in this issue it’s all about the battle in the rain. Watching Arthur and Manta fight is awesome. Reis’ uses such thick lines and deep inks that each punch has weight to it. Wrapping around this epic dogfight is a rainstorm that Reis makes look so real you can almost hear and feel it. Reis is responsible for a lot of great art in comics and Aquaman #13 is no exception.
Still a leader in the New 52, Aquaman’s story quality dips a bit with issue #13.
(3.5 Story, 5 Art)