He ain't heavy, he’s my brother!
Aquaman #14 takes an interesting look at the Ocean Master, longtime nemesis and brother of Aquaman. In the old DCU, Ocean Master and our favorite oceanic Justice League member were bitter enemies. Jealousy, rivalry, hatred and family dysfunction abounded. In the New 52, Ocean Master is still Aquaman’s brother, but there is no hatred, in fact, good old OM seems rather inviting. Writer Geoff Johns is either taking us through an entire new door when it comes to Aquaman’s rogues' gallery, or the true Ocean Master is hiding behind the sheep’s clothing of love and understanding.
This is a set up issue. Geoff Johns ended the first story arc with more questions. Yes, Aquaman stopped Black Manta, but who was Manta working for? Who has the scepter of Atlantis now and how will they use it? Johns opens issue 14 with an ancient story of men catching and killing a descendant of Atlantis. This turns out to be Arthur (Aquaman) and Ocean Master’s great-grandfather. Jump to the present and Aquaman is sending a message to his brother via the local fish. They need to meet at the sunken wreckage of the ship that killed their great-grandfather and they need to meet ASAP.
The meeting does more to deepen the mystery surrounding Ocean Master than it does to reveal him as some traitorous monster. Good move on Johns’ part. The easy road is to have Ocean Master come out swinging, this way we remain unsure about who he is and his motives. If he does attack, Johns has a built-in twist, if he doesn’t, then we have a new aquatic threat. I’m hoping for the latter, but I won’t get my hopes up. Aquaman #14 sets up that things are very wrong in the ocean world, introduces us to the Ocean Master, manages to keep Black Manta in play and releases more dark humanoid creatures. Based simply on the prologue, "Throne Of Atlantis" looks to be a milestone story arc in the history of Aquaman.
Pete Woods’ art is very pretty, if a bit clean for me. The opening pages betray that notion as Woods uses a fair amount of heavy shading and thick inks to tell the tale of Aquaman’s great-grandfather being slaughtered. From there, he reduces the shading, though the strong lines and heavy inks remain. I like the underwater scenes more than the on-land work and, mercifully, there’s very little of that. Woods' faces don’t thrill me - he doesn’t seem to draw from a very wide palette when it comes to how to express human emotion. Overall, Pete Woods does his job, but it’s nothing spectacular.
"Throne Of Atlantis," which stretches between Aquaman and Justice League, looks to cement this new era of the bad ass Aquaman.
(4 .5 Story, 3 Art)