Aquaman #26: The New Regime


Aquaman #26 marks the first time in two years the aquatic king has been under a new scribe. Jeff Parker takes over for Geoff Johns and begins the foundation for the 2014 event series, The Seven Seas. It’s a tense time for Aquaman, as he tries to juggle being a hero to the surface and a king to Atlantis. As with all great king stories, Aquaman has few allies and multiple detractors. The tensions are mounting, and when that goes down, something always gives.

Issue #26 is an outline issue. Parker is feeling his way around the story and the characters. The opening page sets up the coming of a monster, something released from the deep by a group of scientists exploring areas in the ocean best left alone. Meanwhile, someone from the government is attempting to locate Aquaman, though the town of Amnesty Bay is being less then helpful. When Aquaman finally appears, he and Mera save a group of Atlanteans from a convection current threatening to roast them alive.

As the action builds, Parker switches to a scientific meeting in Atlantis, one where the lines are drawn between those who believe in their new king and those who find it reprehensible that Aquaman also protects the surface dwellers. Here’s where things begin to get weird. A sea monster called the Karaqan is attacking the surface. It’s a gigantic creature, looking as if a crab and an octopus mated and then grew the size of King Kong. Aquaman desperately attempts to stop it, but is unable to do more than piss it off. Turns out, this Karaqan is supposed to listen to royal blood, which pushes Aquaman to try and connect with it telepathically. When he does, he is pushed into another dimension, a mysterious sunken kingdom that Aquaman doesn’t recognize.

Jeff Parker isn’t kidding. He’s picked up the reigns and decided to run with them as fast, and as far, as he can. Johns spent two years pulling Aquaman from the depths of bad punch lines and being a second tier hero. Now, with his cache full, Parker is throwing everything he can at him. Aquaman #26 is a smooth transition issue and, though it sheds little light on exactly what Parker’s plans are, it hooks you in well enough to ignite interest in the next era of Aquaman.

Paul Pelletier’s art is inconsistent, but in a really odd way. Whole panels never suffer, but items within them will. It’s not each page, just a few strewn throughout the entire issue. Sometimes one character looks fine and the other is off. Pelletier excels in the battle between Aquaman and the Karaqan, but some of the more intimate moments suffer from weird expressions on faces or uneven form. Nothing happening here is bad, it’s just uneven to a point you can’t help but notice.

(3 Story, 3 Art)