Bill: Gary, we need another DC Rebirth Review.
Gary: Bill, if I read another reboot, my eyes are going to bleed.
Bill: We owe it to our loyal BoroughCon fans. Our eyes bleed so theirs won’t have to.
And so, here’s the review of Aquaman ReBirth.
Recently Peter David blogged that comic companies should do away with numbering entirely because the numbering system is perceived to create a barrier to new readers. With a comic numbered, say 42, it creates a psychological fear that the reader needs to read the prior 41 issues before jumping in. Just put the month and year, suggested David.
Instead of picking up an issue and just enjoying it, we now have “continuity anxiety”, the fear that if we miss an issue we’ll somehow have lost a piece of the story. I blame Stan Lee. Yes, he is the great deity of comics who helped birth the modern comic. But, he also introduced the rigid notion of continuity which has resulted in numerous remakes, reboots and revisioning.
All of this brings me to Aquaman ReBirth. Unlike Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman, I had absolutely no need (or desire for that matter) to re-read the New 52 run of Aquaman. Unlike the other DCU heroes, Aquaman is basically a continuity free-character. His backstory and cast seem to change with each creative team. There are only two constants: one, he lives under water and two, he communicates with sea life.
When he was first introduced in 1941 in More Fun Comics #73, he was fully human. His father was a famous undersea explorer who found the lost, and abandoned city of Atlantis. Through training and scientific studies, the boy grew to be able to live under the sea and breath water. Later, in 1959 (Adventure Comics #260) he became Arthur Curry, son of a Lighthouse Keeper and the Atlantean Atlanna. After the Crisis of the Infinite Earths, he was Orin, a fully Atlantean son of a Wizard, ushering the more mystical, sword and sorcery story lines of the 1990’s. Then there was the Infinite Crisis, the Final Crisis, the Blackest Night and the Brightest Day, followed, of course, by the Emptiest Wallet.
With the New 52, Arthur Curry, the half human-half Atlantean was back. This is the Aquaman of the Rebirth Universe.
This is a long way around to say, that a reader doesn’t need to know anything of the backstory to read Rebirth or Aquaman #1 and #2. In Rebirth, writer Dan Abnett sets the stage for the reboot. Basically, Aquaman and Mera, his wife, sit in a diner and discuss the past and future. In issue #1, one of the few mainstays of the Aquaman universe, Black Manta, attacks the Atlantean Embassy.
Dan Abnett, like Aquaman, doesn’t really get the respect he deserves. Abnett was part of the British invasion. Like Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis and Alan Moore, Abnett is a veteran of the fantastic BritCom 2000 AD. He has produced some really great work at DC, Marvel, Wildstorm, 2000 AD and of course War Hammer 40,000. Yet, where people speak of Gaiman, Ennis and Moore in hushed tones of reverence, Abnett is not.
That’s a shame. He’s a wildly prolific and imaginative writer who has turned out some really good work. If I was to compare him with another writer, it would be the great Peter David.
Abnett’s Aquaman is a good solid entry. Under his hand, Aquaman is a likeable and strong hero, not the imperious King of some incarnations or the dark and troubled warrior of others. Instead, he is a man, very conscious of his role and responsibility as a sovereign. While not plagued with doubts, he fully understands actions and consequences.
Aqua-Fans will, of course, love it. For the rest of us, there is nothing to hate, or really love.