Aquaman Vol. 4 - Underworld TP
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Stjepan Sejic
Letterer: Steve Wands
Enraged by rumors of Arthur's survival in the slums of Atlantis, the ruthless King Rath orders the use of ancient Atlantean techno-magic to track down the Aquaman at all costs! But the ex-king Arthur can't hide for long when his fate collides with that of a mysterious young woman on the run from Rath's own secret police. Her name: Dolphin. Collects AQUAMAN #25-30.
As a non-Aquaman reader, this is the first time I have ever been drawn to the King of Atlantis. And trying something new paid off entirely. If, like me, this was the member of Justice League who garnered the least interest from you, now is the time to find a new favourite.
Arthur, presumed dead, has been lurking in the slums of Atlantis. Meanwhile, King Rath has created something of a police state, turning on anyone who once supported Arthur and anyone whom he does not consider a "true Atlantean". Arthur must join forces with a woman named Dolphin and find a way to bring Aquaman back to his former self.
In this volume of five issues, Abnett has crafted a whole world and a situation that echoes some of the injustices faced in our own world above sea level. A tyrant determined to root out anyone who does not agree with or fully support him. Furthermore, stripping Arthur of his rank and forcing him into the streets of Atlantis means that this gives new comers a perfect chance to jump in here and we can watch him climb his way back up to becoming Aquaman again.
Abnett has been working on the series since the beginning of the Rebirth so long-time fans can expect more of what they have seen before. New readers may be a tad confused by the early pages but this quickly fades away as you are drawn into the story.
But the real spark that ignites this issue and makes it one you must pick up is Sejic's art. Coming to the series for the first time, Sejic brings the same kind of charm that fans of his other works (Ravine, Death Vigil, Sunstone) will be familiar with. He tackles both sprawling Atlantean cityscapes and intimate conversations with the same level of finesse and attention-to-detail.
Expressions and mannerisms have always been a strength of Sejic's and he conveys both subtle and intense emotions with ease. The is particularly relevant with the character of Dolphin, who is mute. Abnett's script captures Aquaman's frustrations and concerns with his words but just a few panels of Sejic's interpretation of Dolphin and we know exactly how she's feeling and what she's trying to say. It captures the great partnership between writer and artist here and works brilliantly.
All in all, Aquaman is a fantastic read and a perfect way in for new readers of the series. Abnett brings an exciting take on rebuilding Aquaman while Sejic is clearly having a blast at bringing the Atlanteans to life.
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