Earning the Mantle
By: Andrew Hines
Holy salted anchovies, there's been a lot of stuff going on for Arthur and company. This has been a much darker, more aggressive book than most in the New 52. It's not as dark as others like I, Vampire or Swamp Thing, but it's a hell of a change for Aquaman. This is a wrap up of the Others story arc. Bringing together Arthur's original team, this has been a wonderful run. We see Arthur finally confronting Black Manta and getting to the root of his anger. Before I start sounding like Dr. Phil, after that comment, I want to get into the actual review.
Geoff Johns has continued to do the unthinkable by making Aquaman a true badass and a hero of his own accord. The first part I should tackle was the pacing, which was perfect. Usually we see it go close to what the story should be or it'll sort of ebb and flow. Here, however, the story hits every marker right on time. The dialogue is great, without having too much or too little. The character interaction, especially between Aquaman and Black Manta is awesome. Everyone seems to play their parts perfectly and no expository stone is left unturned. Thankfully he didn't use a bulldozer to do the turning, though. The story is a fantastic conclusion to The Others storyline.
The usual art team is intact for this issue, with Ivan Reis on pencils, Joe Prado taking care of inks and Rod Reis doing the coloring here. The art is spectacular. It may seem like I'm being overly optimistic, but this team makes my definition of fine art. You can see it on the cover just as well as on the interior pages, such as the one at right. How many other art teams can capture the emotion and inherent danger of the storm raging on this page? The effects, such as the rain hitting Arthur's back and shoulders, are brilliant. It feels like a still from an action movie. The only way it could be more picturesque is if it were illustrated by Alex Ross. I really can't say much more about this, except that the colors are as fantastic as the line work.
This deserves an "A+". I have trouble finding anything wrong with this and looked through this with a fine-toothed comb. It's Aquaman. I wanted to find something that didn't work, but there was nothing. The ending was great and really made it seem more like a movie. I can't wait for the trade so I can read/watch the story in its entirety. Go out and buy the whole series if you haven't started on this.