Comic Book Review: Aquaman #40: One Year Later

The Revolution is testing out a new title: Aquaman. Now, the Revolution has never been a particularly huge Aquaman fan. We think he is cool in a ginchy kitschy kind of way. We like his orange and green costume. Aquaman is cool as a pop icon, but as a comic that we want to read? Well, not really.

However, with the “One Year Later” storyline, Kurt Busiek got the job of writing Aquaman. The Revolution is a huge fan of Busiek. If Busiek is writing a title then we will always check it out to see if we want to start collecting it. So, with that, throw your favorite pescado on the grill and let’s see if Busiek is enough to get us to start collecting Aquaman.

Creative Team
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Art: Butch Guice

Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10.

Synopsis: This issue starts “one year later.” We see a terrible storm that destroys a large laboratory and sends this new “Aquaman” into the sea. “Aquaman” hears a voice in his head asking what his name is. “Aquaman,” says his name is Arthur Curry. The voice tells Arthur that he is needed and to come quickly. Arthur arrives at a scene of a battle between these smaller green creatures a giant shark-man.

The voice in Arthur’s head tells him to help Manaue, the King Shark in this battle. Reluctantly Arthur joins the fight. Arthur and Manaue end up kicking plenty of butt. The voice then tells Arthur to bring Manaue with him. Arthur swims to where the voice is coming from. It turns out the voice is an old man known as the “Dweller in the Depths” (I’m not making this up) and this Dweller is an old man with an octopus head.

The Dweller gives Arthur an amulet so he can understand the various languages of the seascape. The Dweller tells Arthur to go don his “proper raiment” while he tends to Manaue’s wounds. Arthur comes out of the cave with his new clothes on. He is wearing a Warlord-esque version of Aquaman’s outfit.

At this point, Arthur tells the Dweller that he is not Aquaman. That he is Arthur Joseph Curry. Not Aquaman. That his dad was a scientist researching marine adaptability and amphibian evolution. Arthur was born three months premature and his mother died in childbirth. Arthur’s father used his amphibian serum on Arthur which causes him to grow gills. Also, his skin, circulatory system and muscles all changed. The side-effect is that Arthur could not survive out of the water for more than 5 minutes.

After hearing this story, the Dweller babbles about if he has seen the future and can Arthur truly not know himself. Can none of it have happened yet? The Dweller then tells Arthur of a tale similar about Aquaman who was the son of a creature of the sea and a human man. The son discovered his true heritage and became a great warrior and monarch. The Dweller tells Arthur that he is here to guide him on the path of his destiny. That Arthur must travel with the Dweller and Manaue.

Arthur reacts to all this by calling the Dweller crazy. The issue ends with the Dweller questioning if he has seen false prophecies.

The Good: Well, Busiek is a talented writer. And, this issue isn’t poorly written. If you really dig fantasy titles like Conan or Warlord then you’d probably enjoy this issue.

The Bad: Where to start first. Let’s tackle the art. The Revolution wasn’t impressed at all with Butch Guice’s artwork. Guice’s art simply is not our taste at all. Guice’s art is too sloppy, sketchy and inconsistent for the Revolution. Guice’s art reminds us of the art in the Prince Valiant comic strip, and that is not a good thing. Aquaman is unappealing to the eye and that makes it a bore to read.

Now let’s talk about the writing. As I said, if you dig fantasy comics, then check out Aquaman, you will probably like it. However, the Revolution prefers Super-Hero comics. We don’t dig on fantasy comics like Warlord, Conan or Arion. Busiek is basically writing Warlord: The Underwater version. The Revolution isn’t digging this vibe. We vastly prefer the super-hero, Justice Leaguer Aquaman to this Prince Valiant version of Aquaman. I mean, the title was a dead give away. “Sword of Atlantis.” I felt like I was buying an issue of “Savage Sword of Conan.”

The story itself was boring. Absolutely none of the characters were interesting and that includes this new “Aquaman.” The story just plodded along and did little to generate interest in the reader or to get us excited about the next issue. The dialogue was very stiff. The characters all felt very formulaic.

Yes, Aquaman #40 is a big departure and a massive change. However, change isn’t always a good thing. The change that takes place in some of the other “One Year Later” stories like in Superman, Green Lantern, Teen Titans, Nightwing or Batman have been great. This change in Aquaman was less than impressive.

The Revolution is quite shocked. We really expected more from a writer of the caliber of Busiek. Normally, we enjoy his work. We definitely can’t say that about Aquaman #40. Having said that, the Revolution usually gives a new title 6 issues before giving it the ax. So, Aquaman will stay on our Probation List until Issue #6. At that point, it is either promoted to our regular Reading List or it gets the ax.