Comics / Back Issues

In Deep: Peter David’s Aquaman (Part 5 of 5)

By Josh Dean
August 13, 2011 - 08:44

Aquaman #37 to 47…ish

Peter David and his artists (Jim Calafiore and Martin Egeland) have just completed three solid years of Aquaman. The first was a swashbuckling introductory year, the second was a sci-fi/fantasy epic and the third was a meta-commentary on the darkening of superheroes. What does a talented crew like this do for an encore and fourth year? Not a whole lot.

Right away, the DCU is thrust into the Genesis crossover (which I read about a year ago but do not recall in the slightest). Parademons attack Atlantis and David takes the time to tell the story of one who overcomes his programming and helps out Aquaman. It is a valiant effort to interject some original storytelling elements into a big crossover and it works well as a one off issue. It literally could have taken place in any DC comic with no turbulence.

Then David pulls the whole “jump forward in time” gimmick so that Atlantis is now open to the public. One would think this would yield more stories but it really only puts one villain (Dr. Polaris) inside and leaves more bystanders to protect. Having Aquaman and his supporting cast fight a villain out of their wheelhouse is fun but doesn’t seem as ambitious as David’s previous work. There is a light subplot focused on Vulko wanting Koryak to be king but it all feels kind of recycled and listless by this point in the series. They are almost, dare I say, treading water.

Maxima shows up and tries to force herself on Aquaman (I am guessing Aquaman and the Superman titles were edited by the same person at this point). This gives an excuse for all the women in the series (Power Girl, Deep Blue, Tsunami, Dolphin) to join up and help our hero out of the situation. Again, it seems like ideas are just being thrown at the wall at this point.

There is a one off issue with Sea Wolf (an aquatic werewolf, no lie) that reads like an Alan Moore Swamp Thing issue (where the title character just kind of wanders in and kind of affects the story). The Millenium Giants crossover came next with Superman Red guest-starring. It reads like Shadow of the Colossus: the comic. I, to this day, have no idea what the Millennium Giant thing was all about.

At this point, I suppose the writing was on the wall for David’s run. Either he had nothing more to say or was being replaced by DC. He began moving towards his finale by having Aquaman meet up with Alan Scott and Jay Garrick to fight Godzill…er, a giant monster from the ocean. This was billed as “see how the original generation of heroes sees Aquaman” but it reads as a standard team-up issue.

Within three months, David pulls together a credible big threat in the form of Triton (who was the subject of the only piece of this run I have not read, Aquaman annual #1). Triton kills off Poseidon and then comes gunning for Aquaman. David toys with giving Aquaman the powers of god but, you know, Wonder Woman kind of went there already. There is a big fight where Aquaman dies (but it is all part of a plan) and comes back to life. It is all suitably thrilling and even makes references to Greek myths and tales like the Odyssey. Once the threat is resolved, someone looking a heck of a lot like the original Aqauman shows up and claims that the bearded hook-handed hero we have been following for 47 issues is an imposter.

Issue 47 actually features Peter David’s name on the cover as the writer but the interior credits indicate that Abnett and Lanning (DnA to their fans) were the writers on this issue. It looked like David was offering a back door to the writers who came next in case they wanted to undo his run. DnA made the “original” Aquaman Arthur Junior (Mera’s kid) and wrapped up that storyline quickly.

Although certainly not flawless, Peter David’s run is remarkable if only for making Aquaman an exciting character. Since his run on the title, others have taken Aquaman in a mystical direction with a water hand (yeah, because that equals excitement). Still others have tried replacing him and killing him off. Here is to hoping that Geoff Johns can draw from the deep history of the character and present him in a formidable way. The fish creatures that Johns is introducing seem like throwbacks to the cursed people of Tritonis from the Atlantis Chronicles but we shall see.

If you read all this, thanks for reading. I have plans to do full reviews of other classic runs in the near future. If you have recommendations, drop me a line. I couldn’t resist one last fish joke.

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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