Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis
Cover by Joe Prado
Published October 26th 2011
Reviewed by Matthew S
Ever watch a slasher/monster-horror flick and remember thinking at the time: “Wow, those monsters look really scary”, especially when the director plays with the dark lighting and the ominous sound effects to really play up the fear? Well, in the second issue of Aquaman by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis, that’s the kind of feeling you get as you read this. The monsters from the Trench, introduced in the first issue, become a prominent, horrific and deadly force in this issue. The ocean is a big place, and our lack of exploration and discovery of it means that there are a lot of things underwater that we probably don’t know about.
And with this in mind, Reis and Johns create monsters, alien-like, in their appearance and presentation that fall within both the bounds of imagination and reality. Much of this issue, while well written, is carried much by the skill in Reis’ hand, however. The art is stellar. As I mentioned above, Reis gives a great, slasher appearance to the Trench monsters, but at the same time, he juggles the heroic look of Aquaman and Mera perfectly, whilst also giving a great amount of detail to nearly everything in this issue. This is best seen on the double page spread, which reads like a panning view shot from a film: we get the image of coast guards, army types, forensics, and fisherman in distress, and helicopters in the sky all washed over with a dark tone to the colouring.
The image is detailed, horrific, dark, well-drawn and most of all, it tells a story all on its own: there are no words or dialogue boxes whatsoever in the double page spread, save for the “credits” of the creators.
But as for what is written, it is fairly simple. The issue, while focusing predominantly on the threat of the Trench monsters, features a nice scene between Aquaman showing Mera photos of his childhood. Mera is supportive and caring towards Aquaman’s past, who explains: “I did a lot of things I don’t need to do again” to which Mera later responds “And that’s what I want to do now too, Arthur”. It’s a simple exchange, but it really builds the relationship for new and old readers alike. Simple and effective in its delivery. This then leads to another simple, yet effective scene: the good old fight.
Speaking of fights (and by the same token, Mera), there are some very interesting moments, but none more so than when Aquaman’s love has some wonderful chances to shine in this otherwise male-centric comic. Showcasing her powers (controlling water) has never looked more ethereal and splendid as when Reis draws it, and later, when Aquaman and Mera face off against the Trench, she once again almost steals the entire battle scene with a single line: “You attack us like monsters? We do the same” before destroying a handful of them with a fistful of water.
The issue ends in the middle of the fight, with the dialogue leaving quite an interesting twist towards the Trench monsters, but the image accompanying it is anything but edge-of-your seat stuff. Of course, Reis draws it well, but whether it was Johns’ scripts or Reis’ decision to draw it that way I’m not sure: but it ends the image itself ends on a whimper, while the dialogue ends on a bang. It certainly leaves the reader intrigued as to these interesting Trench monsters for the next issue, at least.
There’s a certain cinematic touch to this issue that should appeal to Aquaman and non-Aquaman fans both. There are few revelations, and even fewer major plot developments, but it gets our hero from Point A (unconnected with the Trench Monsters) to Point B (in the thick of battle with them) in a very entertaining way. It does this in a simple and quick fashion (#2 is an easy read), but with very interesting effect. These Monsters are a mystery to both the reader as well as to Aquaman and it leaves us on a cliff hanger that is sure to intrigue enough to get us back for #3.
Plot – 3 out of 5
A simple set up issue, the plot itself is very plainly executed before the readers eyes. A few twists and turns here and there provide enough to hook the reader in by the lip, and drag us back for when the next instalment is released. A minimalist approach to the characters and their situations serves this issue very well.
Art – 4 out of 5
It won’t be long before the name Ivan Reis pops up in many, many award lists for comic artists. And this issue is a testament to that: the previously mentioned double splash page has intricate detail and amazing story telling ability, while Reis beautifully renders the heroic poses of Aquaman and Mera’s powers, while at the same time, provides a gritty, horrific and alien image to the Trench Monsters. The inks of Joe Prado and colours of Rod Reis complement the art in a fine way, giving a bold and striking palette on every page. However, the final page of the comic (while well drawn) does little to support the cliff hanger ending that the dialogue presents.
Cover – 4 out of 5
My criticism towards the cover of #1 was that the cover did little to reflect the contents of the story within. And so what was criticism for #1 becomes praise for #2. While #1 was a striking and heroic image of our hero in action, we get, instead, the image of the horrifying and dark close up of a Trench Monster’s face. The teeth are sharp, dangerous; the eyes, bulbous and frightening. And if you look closely enough, you’ll see reflected in those eyes Aquaman: the prey of the Monster. Look even closer and you’ll notice it is the same image from the cover of #1. Smart, subtle and simple – summing up pretty much everything this reviewer has said of Johns and Reis’ triumph that is Aquaman #2.