By: Mark Cormier
It’s no secret that Aquaman has been the butt end of every joke in the DC Universe since … well, since he was invented. Heck, I’ve been guilty of cracking jokes at the King of Atlantis’ expense on more than one occasion. While he may have his fans, for the most part he is widely regarded as the “lamest superhero”.
So imagine my surprise when I heard that Geoff Johns was going to write Aquaman for the New 52, and I was actually looking forward to it. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, “Geoff Johns has the Midas Touch.” If any writer can make Aquaman cool, it would be him.
The most enjoyable thing about Aquaman #1 is that Johns knows Aquaman is considered a joke. He doesn’t avoid the issue, and he makes no apologies about it. He tackles it head on. Aquaman spends most of this issue getting beat down by his own reputation. Fleeing robbers laugh at his expense when he shows up to stop them. Cops are embarrassed to be upstaged by him. A local web journalist calls him “nobody’s favorite superhero.” Aquaman take it all in stride (even if he is visibly annoyed by it), he actually goes a long way towards proving his detractors (fictitious or otherwise) wrong.
At the same time, however, it feels as though Johns may be trying too hard. He has decades of ridicule to deconstruct, so you can’t blame him for that. Still, I’m getting the impression that I’m being berated for ever thinking Aquaman was lame. Not knowing a whole lot about Aquaman, I was never really aware of his power limits. I did not know that he was nigh-invulnerable (enough to stop a bullet). I did not know that he can lift a truck over his head. Maybe he’s always been like that, but I can’t help but wonder if he’s overcompensating.
And he likes to eat fish and chips. I’m actually kind of weirded out about that last part.
The writing and the artwork are top-notch, as one would expect from Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis, the dynamic duo behind The Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night.
In the end, I left the issue admitting that Aquaman may not be as lame as I once thought, and I’m ready to read some more.
There was something oddly familiar about this issue, though. I could swear I’ve read it before; either that, or something like it. I remember it had something to do with a superhero dealing with the aftermath of being caught in the middle of a civil war between his native people and his adopted people. He wound up wandering around the American country-side, trying to reconnect with everyday regular Joes, having to put up with obnoxious questions from people who just don’t get him and …