Aquaman, aka Arthur Curry, plummets from the sky and smashes into the desert, easily the worst place for the king of Atlantis to end up. How did he get there? To find that out you must enter the world of Aquaman #5, the jumping off point for the first in-depth story arc of the series. Most of the New 52 issues have either faltered considerably or been canceled by issue 5, but the great work writer Geoff Johns is doing on Aquaman has saved it from both fates. The new arc finds our hero looking to solve the age-old mystery of how and why the city of Atlantis plunged into the sea.
So why is Aquaman falling from the sky? Johns fills in those blanks using flashbacks. After saving the coastal town from the deep-sea humanoid creatures, the king of Atlantis is having some doubts. First, he’s confused as to why there was an ancient Atlantean ship crashed within the humanoids lair. He’s also unsure about Mera, who so effortlessly chose to wipe the humanoids out. Is her dark past more of who she is than Aquaman wants to admit?
As he contemplates these questions, the Navy calls, asking for help on a piece of equipment they pried off the wall of one of the cocoons the humanoids used to transport their prisoners. The artifact is emitting a high-pitched squeal but before Aquaman can figure out why, an attack team of Atlantean soldiers bum rushes the show and tries to steal. Cue big battle, a blown up ship and Aquaman stuck in the desert. The desert work is solid, and ultimately gives us the first clue to the Atlantis mystery, though I could have done without the clichéd imaginary visit from dad that’s really a stand in for Aquaman’s subconscious.
Johns was smart to use flashbacks. If issue 5 had been a linear story it wouldn’t have worked as well, mainly because the desert scenes aren’t as gripping as the rest. Weaving it between past and present allowed Johns to piece meal us information with rendering the whole thing as boring. This was a crucial issue for Aquaman, one that meant sink or swim for the series. The considerable writing talent of Geoff Johns is here in full force knocking the issue out of the park.
Ivan Reis also steps up his game with Aquaman #5. As always, his art is wonderful to look at, but Reis does more with the actual story. The moment between Aquaman and Mera is a perfect example. It’s all done with the art. A look from Arthur, the soft presence of the humanoids in the window representing Arthur’s troubled thoughts about Mera wanting to wipe them out. Throughout the whole issue Reis seems to be addressing the story and Johns is smart enough to let the art completely take over in sections. Together Johns and Reis make Aquaman #5 one of the few fifth issues in the new DC to not crash and burn.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 9/10 (4.5 Story, 4.5 Art)