Review: Aquaman #17
There is no rest for the King of Atlantis. Having just discovered his most trusted advisor betrayed him and led the attack on Atlantis, resulting in his brother Ocean Master flooding Boston, a new threat is on the horizon. Who that new threat is remains unclear, since writer Geoff Johns reveals him only in shadow at the end. Whoever he is, it’s one more thing for the newly crowned king to contend with.
Let’s start there with Aquaman #17. Having defeated his brother Ocean Master, Aquaman has accepted the throne, but still wants to remain partially active in the surface world. He is also looking to remain part of the Justice League. Problem is, his trusted advisor is in prison for sabotage and his brother is sitting on death row for the thousands he killed during his attack. Arthur, aka Aquaman, is also having trouble getting the proper respect from his Atlantean troops. They want to slap out at the surface world without restraint, but Aquaman wishes there to be peace. Heavy is the head that wears the crown.
The surface world isn’t too excited about Aquaman, not just because of his dysfunctional family, but because somebody is hoarding Atlantean weapons lost during the Ocean Master battle and selling them on the black market. To make it all worse, Aquaman can’t stay with Mera, a woman hated by the Atlanteans. Forced to live on the surface, Mera is having trouble being separated from her love, problems she’s taking out on local law enforcement. Yep, things have gone from bad to worse for Aquaman.
Aquaman #17 introduces the "Death of a King" story arc, but Johns doesn’t treat this as a standard set up issue. Instead, he takes the time to establish all that’s happened. From issue #1-#16, so much has happened – Aquaman redefined, the humanoid creatures, Black Manta, Aquaman’s former team, Ocean Master, the Justice League, Mera’s betrayal, the list goes on. Issue #17 sets up the fallout from all those events and then introduces the latest wild card. Johns has seriously stacked the deck against the King of Atlantis, which is why this series has been so compelling.
Paul Pelletier’s pencils are solid, but nothing spectacular. His strength lies with drawing backgrounds, water, the depths of the ocean, all the peripheral work. Where Pelletier stumbles is his ability to stay consistent with the work, especially the human forms. Some of the panels are really excellent, while others seem rushed and sloppy. Overall, Pelletier’s work is average.
Sean Parsons helps the situation with his inks. He places most of the weight on outlines, and his facial inks help when Pelletier’s pencils seem too light for the scene. Colorist Rod Reis has little to work with in this issue. Most of what happens takes place below the surface or in cold areas with a dull grey look to them. Still, Reis injects color where he can and when he does it brings some drama to the work.
Aquaman is one of the most consistently well-written series that DC has to offer. Let’s hope that, once Geoff Johns leaves, it remains that way.
STORY: 4 + ART: 2.5 =