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THE NEW 52, Week 5:
Aquaman #1

What's it like to be Aquaman? A blogger sits down to ask that question while a visibly annoyed (maybe it's that new stiff high collar) Arthur Curry waits for his fish and chips. At first he doesn't understand the question, but we do, because Geoff Johns has devoted this first issue to addressing exactly why most people consider Aquaman a joke, and why they're wrong.

Long before this little vignette, Johns makes it clear that yes he CAN make Aquaman a top seller as he has for Green Lantern and (maybe) The Flash. To the writer's credit, he does it without resorting to his patterns. He takes what everybody thinks they know, and turns it upside down.

For that, I thank him.

He's not doing it alone, of course. Ivan Reis – already a fan favorite – rises to the challenge of this book, delineating action and clear emotion. Check out that scene mentioned above. It isn't the dialogue that sells the annoyance; it's an artist at the top of his game. It's not a reboot. Nothing in this issue indicates a change in Aquaman's past, although it might be hard to imagine him with a spear hand and shaggy beard. Like almost all the other heroes, this Aquaman is a bit younger than he has been for a while, but he's also been as pushed around by both sides of his heritage for quite some time.

The willingness to take that on makes this book accessible for both new and old readers. Johns strips Aquaman down to his most basic, a man trapped between two worlds who wanted to do the right thing by both. But really, now he wants to be a superhero with a super hot wife – and Johns shies away from the fanboy impulses indulged in other titles.

Oh, yes, there is a clear menace being established, as humanoids from the deep are rising. They're hungry. You will be, too, after this first issue that like Grant Morrison and Rags Morales' Action Comics #1, makes absolute good on the promise of this New 52.

Derek McCaw

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