Aquaman: Deep Dives is in the middle of its first big story arc. This new arc has challenged Aquaman’s current status as the King of Atlantis and his connection with the other underwater kingdoms. As the story has progressed we have learned that the Scorpio organization, an old Challengers of the Unknown villain group, has been responsible for the chaos Aquaman and his allies have been dealing with lately. Now with Aquaman being aware of who is responsible for what has been going on how will he respond to Scorpio’s plans? Let’s find out with Aquaman: Deep Dives #7.
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: V Ken Marion
Inker: Sandu Florea
Colorist: Andrew Dolhouse
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Inside Scorpio’s base Number One is told that they are getting Torpedoman’s data and that it could lead the Sea Devils back to them. Number One welcomes the Sea Devils to come witness the fight that will destroy Aquaman.
Elsewhere Nick o the Sea Devil’s gives Aquaman a nano-cast around his broken arm so he can still fight while it heals. Aquaman then gets a call from Vulko, who informs Aquaman of the fights breaking out between Atlanteans in Brazilia. Realizing he needs to immediately deal with this Aquaman tells the Sea Devils that he is going to Brazilia and will have Tula take his place in the Sea Devils mission to find Scorpio.
Not long after Aquaman leaves Tula arrives and is immediately able to decipher the data the Sea Devils have gathered. She recognizes the area and the route they should they to get to Scorpio.
In Brazilia, Aquaman immediately stops all of the Atlanteans from fighting each other. He admits that their problems are with him. To that end, he openly invites any Atlantean who has a problem with his status as king to fight him.
Elsewhere Tula leads the Sea Devils directly to the Scorpio’s base where they are met by an army of Scorpio soldiers. The Scorpio soldiers suddenly make a path so Number One can confront Tula and the Sea Devils personally. Number One takes off his helmet to reveal his true identity as Kordax, Aquaman’s disgraced ancestor who has stayed alive through dark magic. Tula wastes no time and immediately charges at Kordax.
As they begin fighting Kordax quickly overpowers Tula. The Sea Devils try to help but they are also easily dealt with by Kordax.
Ack in Brazilia Aquaman awaits anyone who wishes to challenge him. No one challenges Aquaman. Instead, they request Aquaman to show them a king who can inspire, deliver charity, confidence, prosperity, and safety to his people. Aquaman gives all the Atlanteans accepts the challenge and then gives the Atlanteans his own challenge: to find the Scorpio agents within the Atlanteans and have them face justice for trying to cause chaos in Atlantis.
Aquaman then takes off and tries to contact Tula and the Sea Devils but gets no answer as they have been all knocked out by Kordax.
Over on Poseidonis Mera and Tempest do their best to fight off all the Atlanteans working as Scorpio agents. While the Atlanteans try to say that they have no problem with Mera, she tells them that they rule together so to question Aquaman is to question her.
Elsewhere Aquaman finds Scorpio’s base and immediately tackles Kordax’s from behind. Aquaman admits he is not surprised to find Kordax still alive. Kordax calls Aquaman out for having a tone that shows he is fighting him out of spite. Aquaman says he has lived long enough to know that a throne isn’t everything and things aren’t over yet
This fight gives Tula and the Sea Devils time to recover and fight all the Scorpio soldiers. Tula and the Sea Devils eventually get inside Scorpio’s base.
As Aquaman and Kordax go back and forth in their fight they also call each other out for their respective character weaknesses. Kordax is able to injure Aquaman’s shoulder. Aquaman fights through the pain and headbutts Kordax.
Suddenly Aquaman uses his powers to place himself and Kordax into the Celestial Isthimus, a realm that connects all sea life. This pisses Kordax’s off and he swears to kill Aquaman today.
Inside Scorpio’s base, Tula and Judy work quickly to send the truth about what is going on to all everyone and clear up the lies Scorpio has been sending all the kingdoms, including Atlantis.
Back in the Celestial Isthimus, Kordax calls Aquaman weak for his human bloodline and smiles as it seems he has the advantage over Aquaman. Aquaman is able to summon a water dragon that bites Kordax’s lower-half.
Back in the regular world, Kordax has fallen unconscious. Aquaman then calls out any Scorpio soldier who still stands with Kordax to face him. Aquaman then tells Tula to call the Drift to start rounding up Scorpio soldiers. He then calls for the Aquarium Prison to open back up under new management.
Later, Aquaman, with Mera, Tempest, and Tula by his side, gives a speech to all the Atlanteans to unify everyone again. He then thanks the Sea Devils for all their help.
Afterward, Aquaman and Mera are able to spend some alone time together to relax. End of issue.
The Good: Aquaman: Deep Dives #7 takes all the momentum from the first two chapters to create an impactful ending. Steve Orlando does not only use the first two parts of this story but every issue of Aquaman: Deep Dives he has written to complete a narrative of how Arthur Curry has grown as King of Atlantis. That narrative helps spark further interest in Aquaman’s future.
What makes this finale for “Stinging Tide” work so well is how Orlando makes it truly feel like the culmination of his stories on Aquaman: Deep Dives. Through each of his issues of this series Orlando has been emphasizing the connections that Aquaman has made. Whether that is with Mera, the Sea Devils, Tempes, or, in this issue, Tula, all these people are key parts of Aquaman’s life. Not only that but you see how that culminates into the King of Atlantis arc that Orlando has been taking Aquaman on during this time.
Throughout Aquaman: Deep Dives we have seen how the path of being a superhero and adventurer has been what Aquaman wants to follow. That is how he sees himself and has preferred to leave Mera and others to handle the politics of being royalty. But as he saw with this entire “Stinging Tide” arc Aquaman just cannot be a superhero and adventurer. He has to be the one to step of as King of Atlantis just like Mera has done as Queen. It’s a shared responsibility that they need to have to ensure Atlantis is perceived to be strong to the other underwater kingdoms.
To Orlando’s credit that is exactly what we see Aquaman do. He finally steps up and talks like the King of Atlantis so many have been waiting for him to be. You can tell that everything Aquaman said to the Atlanteans in Brazilia is what these people wanted to hear. Aquaman was able to unite everyone by talking in a way that shows strength and caring for the Atlanteans. It’s that strength and care that as a reader you also believe that Aquaman is finally ready to fully accept his royal duties as King.
Having Aquaman go through that before facing off against Kordax, the leader of Scorpio, a much more intriguing fight. This wasn’t just a simple thing of hero vs villain. Aquaman had to defeat Kordax to show the strength that he preached earlier to the Atlanteans. This was not a time to give into all of Kordax’s bad-mouthing. It was a time of strength and powering through any injure he had at the time.
This made the moment when Aquaman had Kordax enter the Celestial Isthimus an even more impactful moment. Seeing that came across as Aquaman fully accepting the power he had. Up to this point, Aquaman has used his skills as a fighter to defeat all his enemies. That was not going to be enough to defeat Kordax. Aquaman had to use his powers as an Atlantean to tap into the more mystical powers that Mera and Tempest normally use. There was a definite spectacle feel to when Aquaman unleashed the water dragon on Kordax while in Celestial Isthimus.
All of this elevated the threat Kordax and his Scorpio organization. There was a great sense of urgency to Aquaman and the company stopping them because Kordax and Scorpio were able to accomplish all of their plans up to this point. Kordax and Scorpio had all the advantages of going into Aquaman: Deep Dives #7. That made how we saw Kordax display his overwhelming power when he easily dealt with Tula and the Sea Devils even more impressive. Orlando properly set Kordax up as the final boss and made the moment when Aquaman defeated him that much sweeter.
It was also awesome to see Tula make a major appearance in Aquaman: Deep Dives #7. Tula, like Tempest, is a highly underutilized character. Tula is more known for her death than an actual character in the modern DC Universe. It is great to see that Tula is being given a chance to have a major appearance that showcases how awesome she is. Adding in how she is a tech expert that Aquaman highly trusts gave Tula’s character a nice distinction within the Atlanteans. Because while Tula has similar powers to Aquaman, Mera and Tempest, adding in a tech expert characteristic help to differentiate her more. Tula standing alongside Aquaman, Mera, and Tempest at the end of this issue was a great way to put over her current standing as well.
This was also a great showing for Mera. Even though her appearance was short Orlando made sure to make the most of Mera’s screen time to show how much confidence she has in Aquaman. She is well aware that Aquaman still has a long way to go. And Mera knows that it is in moments like this that she also has to show strength when Aquaman’s authority is questioned. Mera holds strong respect among the Atlanteans that her wavering for even a second will only make things worse. Which made the confident tone Mera talked with better character development, even though she only appeared in a few panels.
V Ken Marion delivered some of his best artwork in Aquaman: Deep Dives #7. Throughout this issue, Marion puts over how powerful Aquaman is as a fighter and speaker. This was a time for Aquaman to step up as King of Atlantis and Marion showcased that through his artwork. The action was all well done to showcase the power of all the fighters involved. The final page of Aquaman: Deep Dives #7 really got across how much Aquaman and company accomplished as this story concluded.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Aquaman: Deep Dives #7 was a fantastic ending to the “Stinging Tide” arc. Steve Orlando does a wonderful job showcasing what makes Aquaman the true King of Atlantis. The way Aquaman stepped up on multiple fronts showed the reader why he is a great character. The way Tula, Mera, and Tempest are used throughout this issue further elevated this issue to be as fantastic as it turned out to be.
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