DC Comics first week of Digital First continues with Aquaman: Deep Dives. This comic book looks to be giving us a story that will be about Aquaman battling Black Manta. I’ve never been a big Aquaman fan. I’ve tried various Aquaman runs in the past including Geoff Johns but I just have never connected with the character or his world like most of the characters from DC Comics. There’s something about the character of Aquaman that just does not intrigue me. But with this new, fresh start DC’s Digital Firsts are giving their characters I thought it would be a good chance to give an Aquaman title another chance. Let’s find out how things turn out with Aquaman: Deep Dives.
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Daniel Sampere
Inker: Juan Albarran
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Over at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City Mera is giving a speech about how Atlantis will be entering into negotiations with the gathered global leaders while Aquaman watches on. Aquaman suddenly gets a Justice League alert.
Over at a museum Black Manta is shown attacking anyone that gets in his way. While entering the museum Black Manta reveals he is after a weapon that will allow him to get revenge on Aquaman for the death of his father.
The weapon turns out to be the Tether of Amphitrite. As Black Manta finds the weapon he reveals that the Tether of Amphitrite is not a Themysciran artifact but a treasure of the Mermazons meant to be an indestructible sporting snare.
Aquaman arrives and immediately knocks Black Manta down before he can get the Tether of Amphitrite. Black Manta goes into a rage state as he blames Aquaman for his father’s death. As they fight Aquaman reminds Black Manta that his father was a pirate and the sea killed him because of his crimes. Black Manta calls Aquaman a hypocrite and states he is getting the snare.
Aquaman and Black Manta go back and forth for a while until Aquaman catches Black Manta’s shield. Black Manta immediately dropkicks the shield Aquaman holds into his neck. This gives Black Manta the opening to steal the Tether of Amphitrite.
Aquaman recovers and suplexes Black Manta hard onto the ground. Aquaman tries to explain that the Tether of Amphitrite is a cursed weapon. Black Manta does not believe it and stabs Aquaman with the Tether of Amphitrite.
Rather than showing pain Aquaman just smiles much to Black Manta’s frustration. Aquaman suddenly activates the Tether of Amphitrite, sending a shock that causes Black Manta immense hunger. Aquaman reveals that the Tether of Amphitrite is only meant to be an enchanted hunting line and will severely punish anyone who tries to use it for power with an gnawing, unending personal famine. It was because of the abuse of the Tether of Amphitrite that destroyed the original Mermazons.
Aquaman then knocks Black Manta down with another powerful slam. Unable to move, Black Manta swears he will kill Aquaman and no one will be able to stop him. Aquaman leaves Black Manta on the ground so that the arriving cops can arrest him.
In the Arctic Ocean Aquaman returns the Tether of Amphitrite to its original location and promises that if anyone finds it again he will be close behind. End of issue.
The Good: As someone who enjoyed the Aquaman movie Aquaman: Deep Dives is exactly the type of comic book I want to read after that. Steve Orlando and Daniel Sampere do not waste time and got you right into the action of Aquaman and Black Manta fighting. And that is all I’m looking for l I after watching the Aquaman movie.
While Aquaman: Deep Dives is one big battle between Aquaman and Black Manta there are still a lot of continuity things that Steve Orlando develops. Specifically with what is fueling Black Manta in his hatred of Aquaman. Orlando gets right into how Black Manta has become utterly consumed by killing Aquaman that he just doesn’t care about anything or anyone else. This is his personal mission in life that he will not let anyone stop him from accomplishing.
That hatred played well into how Orlando established the Tether of Amphitrite as a powerful weapon with its own backstory. It being a Mermazonian weapon allowed Orlando to dive deeper into the greater Atlantis mythology. He was able to show the reader there is more to the underwater world than just Atlantis. There is, or was, a place for Mermazons, their version of the Amazons, who were destroyed by their misuse of the Tether Amphitrite. Establishing that does provide interest into finding out if there are any Mermazonians left and whatever cultures there are underwater beyond Atlantis.
The Tether of Amphitrite also allowed the fight between Aquaman and Black Manta to end in a way that speaks to their rivalry. Specifically going back to Black Manta’s obsession with killing Aquaman, the Tether of Amphitrite turned that around on him. Aquaman was able to show Black Manta that is his character’s greatest weakness. But like most villains Black Manta is made sure that Aquaman know that he is not done just because his plan with the Tether of Amphitrite turned against him.
This plot also helped to humanize Aquaman as we see why he leans into being more of a superhero than just being King of Atlantis 24/7. Aquaman genuinely wants to help others, that includes Black Manta. Orlando also shows the weight of how Aquaman as King of Atlantis does want to share Atlantis’ culture with the world. Unfortunately not everything should be shared and things like the Tether of Amphitrite should be left in their hidden location. It’s a big lesson for Aquaman to learn that makes him a more compelling character.
The opening scene at the United Nations headquarters for Aquaman: Deep Dives also works in establishing where Orlando is starting this comics continuity. Atlantis is now looking to work with the world leaders to better all of their relations. That opens the door for some cool political elements in order to highlight Aquaman’s status as King of Atlantis along with being a superhero.
Having Mera be the one to take the lead on this also shows how they are able to balance each other out. Aquaman is much more of a warrior King. Mera, while being a formidable warrior and mage herself, understands how to communicate with others much better. Aquaman giving Mera this credit for her communication ability was a nice bit of character and relationship development without them having to talk to each other.
As always, Daniel Sampere delivered solid superhero artwork with his work on Aquaman: Deep Dives. He knows how to deliver designs for characters that are immediately recognizable to DC Comics’ fans. His choice to go with the long-haired Aquaman fit well with how the character is much more of a warrior king. Sampere also showed how he can choreograph an extended fight scene without losing the fans interest as the battle between Aquaman and Black Manta had several stages.
The Bad: Aquaman: Deep Dives is a straight up superhero comic book. Outside of the opening page what you are getting with this comic book is a fight between a superhero and supervillain. If that is not something you are looking for than this is not the comic for you. Superman: Man of Tomorrow does a much better job of that if you are looking for that type of comic book that has both.
Overall: Aquaman: Deep Dives delivers a fun, straightforward superhero story. There is no time wasted as the issue dedicates most of its page count to the fight between Aquaman and Black Manta. Steve Orlando sprinkles in some cool character focus dialogue that helps give the fight between rivals much more meat to the bone. With a $0.99 cover price, Aquaman: Deep Dives is definitely something you should check out if you’re looking to get a superhero comic book fix.
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