Comic Book Review: Aquaman #42: One Year Later

So far, the Revolution has not been that impressed with Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis. There is no doubt that DC has put talent on this title. Kurt Busiek is a great writer. Butch Guice is a very talented artist, even though I don’t personally dig his style. But, this One Year Later storyline is just not working for me. Will Aquaman #42 change my opinion? Let’s find out.

Creative Team
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Butch Guice

Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10.

Synopsis: The issue starts with “Aquaman” and the Shark King in a sleazy tavern. The people in the tavern mistake “Aquaman” with the real Aquaman. This fake Aquaman loses his temper that he isn’t Aquaman and decides to leave the tavern and get some “water” instead of “air.”

We then flashback to after the duel in last issue where “Aquaman” find his great power and strength and kicks butt on Atsuil. After the fight, Queen Mera asks “Aquaman” to stay and help her. He declines saying he has to go to Maine to see if his father is alive. Mera gives “Aquaman” some money and food and wishes him luck. During this scene, Orin, I mean, the Dweller watches from afar.

We cut back to the present and “Aquaman” is approached by a mermaid who tells him how hot and gorgeous he looks. And with that, it is time for SEX! “Aquaman” wakes up from his booty session to find the mermaid and some of the guys from the Tavern stealing his money. The mermaid tells the guys to kill him. “Aquaman” loses it and displays his great strength and little tears the entire Tavern to the ground. (Ok, I’ll admit it. That was pretty cool.)

“Aquaman” and the King Shark then swim away. The King Shark mentions that “Aquaman” is almost as strong as the real Aquaman. “Aquaman” then loses it. He just wants to go home. He hates it here. Everyone is either trying to order him around, use him or kill him. The King Shark empathizes since his father is the God of all Sharks.

“Aquaman” then hears this call for help. This message says that they have finally reached him and they want Aquaman to follow their beacon to bring him to them. “Aquaman” scoffs that they have the wrong guy. He starts to swim away to go to Maine, but feels bad. There may be people in trouble. So, he and the King Shark turn back and follow the beacon.

And the beacon leads them to none other than Windward Home the headquarters of the Sea Devils. (Which, by the way, looks fantastic!) Jimmy Lockhart is the owner of the Windward Home. He greats “Aquaman” and notices that he is not the read Aquaman. “Aquaman” then tells Lockhart and the Sea Devils his story. When he is done, Lockhart introduces “Aquaman” to Elsa Magnusson, who is a sorcery specialist who runs Windward Home. Lockhart takes “Aquaman” on a tour of the facility. Windward Home is home to scientists, philosophers, mystics and thinkers of all kinds from the human world and beyond. They try to broker nonviolent solutions to world problems. They owe no allegiance to any country or world government and stay strictly in international waters.

“Aquaman” then asks them what was the problem that they were looking for Aquaman for help. Magnusson says that they need to find the real Aquaman, Orin. One of the Sea Devils, Dane, takes “Aquaman” to one of their undersea chambers to show him something. Dane tells “Aquaman” that the Spectre destroyed Atlantis. During that most of the ruling aristocracy was killed including Aquaman’s son, foster son and closest advisors. Mera and Aquaman managed to escape. After extensive searching, the Sea Devils found what they have housed in this undersea chamber. Aquaman looks into the chamber and we see the ghost of Vulko. End of issue.

The Good: This wasn’t a bad issue. It just may be the case that Aquaman just isn’t my type of comic book. I thought the Tavern scene with the mermaid was pretty much standard fantasy stuff. But, I will admit, it was cool to see “Aquaman” literally tear down the Tavern and destroy the entire place in a fit of rage. This “Aquaman” definitely has a temper.

I also really enjoyed the scene after that where “Aquaman” just wants to break down like a “winy teenager in an after school special.” Busiek does a good job developing “Aquaman” in this scene. For the first time in this series I began to identify a little with this character. Everyone knows what it is like to fell that frustration when you are in a place and situation you just want to get out of.

I also like Windward Home. That is one neat place. Full of interesting characters and possibilities. I hope we spend some time at this place.

And of course, the big bomb in this issue is that the ghost of Vulko is chilling in an undersea chamber at Windward Home. Vulko, a long time trusted aid of the real Aquaman. It should be interesting to see where Busiek goes with this storyline.

Overall, I think Busiek did a nice job writing this issue. The dialogue is average at points and great at others. The pace was better in Aquaman #42 that in the previous issues, however, it is still a bit on the slow side. I do think that Busiek did a better job making “Aquaman” seem more interesting and more developed in this issue. I am also beginning to like the King Shark more and more. Of course, Vulko’s ghost was Busiek’s big hook. It somewhat got me. Not totally, but I am interested for the next issue.

I loved Guice’s one page splash shot of Windward Home. It looked fantastic. He really is a talented artist.

The Bad: I’m still not totally sold on this “Aquaman” or this storyline. I do think that the story is getting more and more interesting with each issue. Aquaman #42 is definitely an improvement over the past two issues. But, I’m still not sure why we need this “Aquaman.” They have the same name and they look pretty much the same. So basically, this “Aquaman” is a less powerful version of the real Aquaman. Like we needed a less powerful version of Aquaman? It is not like he was in the power class of Superman in the first place. There are so many similarities that I don’t know why we just couldn’t have the real Aquaman in this title. Instead we have a guy with the same name, same looks and less powers. Eh, it doesn’t really work for me.

As far as the art is concerned, there is no doubt that Guice is talented. I just can’t get into his art. I think it is too hurried. It looks rushed, sketchy and sloppy. It lacks detail and is too rough in style. Plus, this “Aquaman” looks like he needs to hit the gym. He looks weak.

The fact is that both Busiek and Guice are talented men. And if you like Guice’s artwork and you enjoy fantasy themed comic books, then Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis is for you. You will definitely enjoy this title. If you are like me and don’t really love Guice’s style and aren’t particularly into fantasy comic books like Warlord or Conan, then Aquaman may not be for you.