Aquaman Vol. 4: Death of a King (The New 52)
Pros: Gorgeous artwork with some future story elements plugged in
Cons: Johns cuts corners on his writing at times
After defeating his brother Orm whom is now being referred to as Ocean Master, Aquaman reclaims the throne of Atlantis and he hopes to one day bring peace between the Atlanteans and the surface world. Little does he know, a former king from the past is set to return and reconquer what was once already his. -summary
Geoff Johns decided to wrap up his run on Aquaman, and I just have to commend him for a job well done. Aquaman wasn’t only fun to read over the last three years, but the title is in my top five favorite comic runs since DC and Marvel rebooted their universes. If there was only one comic I needed to follow it was definitely this one. Aquaman Volume 4: Death of a King collects issues 17 – 19 and 21 – 25. DC chose to skip Aquaman # 20 in which that issue featured his team The Others; the issue will be available in the TPB Aquaman and The Others which is set to hit stands on 1-27-15.
Geoff Johns immediately follows up the Aquaman and Justice League crossover Throne of Atlantis, by quickly developing Aquaman’s shaky relationship with the Atlanteans as well as the surface world. He’s put between a rock and a hard place, as the surface doesn’t trust him and the Atlanteans appear that they will never accept him. In fact, one of the sub plots involves a team of his subjects vowing to break Orm out of prison. Johns juggles quit a bit here and it does what a follow up story of this type is suppose to do: introduce new elements for future stories and remain entertaining while doing it.
There’s never a dull moment here as the story maintains a nice pace. Things begin to heat up when Aquaman must face an old enemy by the name of Scavenger whom is making his New 52 debut; the story really begins moving with a purpose until The Dead King appears claiming to be the rightful ruler of The Seven Seas. Aquaman’s entire birthright soon comes into questioning as The King claims he had been told some truth and many lies.
Johns understands how to keep the ball rolling as he continues to dig deeper into Aquaman and The Dead King’s past which involves the sinking of Atlantis, and also explains the various kingdoms that spawned from it. Plus he makes the battle with Scavenger readable with a good amount of action and even death. Unfortunately, Johns also resorts to a bad tactic he has grown accustomed to as of late, and that’s cutting a lot of corners. There’s a reason why The Dead King later named Atlan arises, but this was something that should have seen some build up before this, because it’s just so out of nowhere and he’s built as a huge threat. The ending also suffers in the same way and didn’t feel all that easy to buy into. There’s another new story element being developed at the end, but there was no information on how it got there. In any case, I expect some of these things to be cleared up later since Johns leaves the title in great shape for any writer to take advantage of.
Paul Pelletier’s and Rob Reis’ pencils and coloring delivers some really nice splash pages, and the majestic backgrounds works very well bringing Atlantis to life. The backgrounds continued to leave me excited from the large pools of gathering fish to the furious snow blizzards. Aquaman is a very beautiful book even on to the various character designs. The action on some occasions can be tough to make out on first look, but they’re also done rather well. Even if Johns writing was complete garbage it would be hard for me to rip the entire book.
In closing, this is a very good follow up volume as it introduces new things to keep Aquaman’s world interesting. If you have already been following this title and enjoying it, then here’s another addition to your collection.