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Aquaman #16: Secrets of Atlantis

Ocean Master's attack on Boston is deadly, but who instigated it? The truth is revealed here.

Aquaman #16

The secrets of what brought Ocean Master to war against the surface world come to light in Aquaman #16. Who set the charge that hit Atlantis? What mastermind of criminality managed to steal the Scepter Of Atlantis from the hands of Aquaman? What scourge was able to use Black Manta as a pawn in his game? More on that later. Right now, let’s check in with the Justice League.

When last we left our intrepid heroes (Justice League #16) they were trying valiantly to protect Boston from Ocean Master. Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman united were unable to stop OM, and even the additional help of Aquaman did nothing to turn the tide. Now, the three heroes are being held prisoner in special pods at the bottom of the ocean. Their penance for losing to Ocean Master?  The three Justice League members will be fed to the humanoid Trench creatures from the deep that Aquaman battled in the first few issues.

Not wanting to lose his teammates nor watch the surface world suffer, Aquaman has journeyed to the bottom of the sea to try and bring his friends back. Meanwhile, Ocean Master is slapping down the heroes Aquaman recruited to fill in for Justice League. As Aquaman battles droves of humanoids, these new heroes fight Ocean Master with all they’ve got. Meanwhile, Professor Shin and Vulko are attempting to figure out how to stop Ocean Master while Cyborg undergoes certain adjustments to try and help rescue the Justice League.

Writer Geoff Johns juggles multiple storylines with great ease. The battle between the Justice League and the Trench is exciting, but also sheds some light on the mystery of who is behind these attacks. Johns works a strong emotional core to the Cyborg story and keeps the action against Ocean Master going strong. Everything here is balanced, which is essential so that the big reveal isn’t confusing. So, who is the big bad behind it all?

Vulko. Yep, Arthur’s most trusted advisor has a dark secret. When Arthur left Atlantis, the people turned on Vulko and banished him, which hasn’t set well with the man. Vulko has begun this war between Ocean Master and the surface world simply to hide his true plan. Is the reveal a little easy to predict? Perhaps, but Johns writing is so crisp that you never have a chance to think about Vulko before he’s exposed.

Paul Pelletier’s artwork here is astounding. I’m not overly familiar with his work, but what he does in Aquaman #16 has made me take notice. His pencils with the human form are impressive, but it’s the way he works the underwater sequences that really pop. The battle with the Trench is a wonderful example of that, as is the two-page gatefold when the humanoid creatures rise to attack Ocean Master. Pelletier also knows how to build tension with his panels and then unleash it. The lines here aren’t heavy, which is okay because Pelletier uses that to display movement and action.

This series is a key step in proving to the world that Aquaman is relevant and necessary and kicks a lot of ass.

8.5

(4 Story, 4.5 Art)