Comics Review – Aquaman #16

Aquaman makes room for the Justice League, and several new characters arrive during the extended battle against Atlantis. There is a major plot twist in the Throne of Atlantis narrative, and the Trench return from their seafloor hollow.

Aquaman #16

The current character cast of Aquaman return to this issue, but arguably the real stars are the Justice League. Seeing the characters interact and work together without the bickering is a welcome, and somewhat of a good payoff after their shaky start. Aquaman and Batman work together to solve a mystery, despite clashing over leadership and the flooding of Gotham by Atlantis earlier in the story arc. Cyborg is diplomatic, and makes a major sacrifice to keep the team’s initiative and advantage against Atlantis. This is an improvement on top of previous developments – namely, the battle against the Cheetah.

Key themes that Aquaman deals with are touched on, however. Pressure from the media on Aquaman presents itself again, as an anonymous news anchor casts Aquaman as betrayer of the League in a news story about the Atlantean attack.

New Justice League characters previewed earlier in Throne of Atlantis arrive and defend Boston from the invading Atlantean army. Nick J Napolitano’s colouring is ecstatic and bright as classic Justice League characters arrive on the team for the first time in the new 52 continuity.

The pages where Hawkman, Black Lightening, Vixen, Firestorm, Black Canary, and Element Woman fend off the soldiers are only lacking in size and scale. Hawkman gets a full page to swipe at soldiers, edified in Pelletier’s detailed pencil work. The rest of the action, however is compressed into unimpressive panels. The scene calls for more space to showcase the hero’s dynamic acrobatics. Black Canary and Vixen could almost be tripping over each other in the current panel arrangement.

There is an interesting panel choice – a large jump between locations represented with only small squares. The Justice League visits the Trench’s hollow lair on the seafloor, and Batman asks Cyborg about Boston – a small panel shows Black Canary and Firestorm fighting soldiers, before jumping back to the first string characters on the Atlantic sea floor.

The narrative moves along with a major reveal that provides an unexpected twist. While it’s a spoiler to mention what happens, the revelation casts Aquaman’s brother Ocean Master in a far more sympathetic light. He becomes complex –  not a villain interested in violence and drawing plans against his nemesis – Aquaman – but a king protecting his people and his pride in Atlantis.

Aquaman #16 is published by DC comics

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