(Ed. Note: This Friday will be my 200th article, and since it’s a bit strange to get sentimental halfway through an article, I figure I could say a few quick words now. I began this blog one year ago as a persistent way to improve my writing. Luckily for me, my passions and interests involve fictional men and women putting on brightly colored spandex and pummeling each other. I can hardly complain.
Though before we begin our article today, and because I’ve never mentioned this before, it takes me about three hours to go from nothing to a completed post (searching my collection, gathering pictures, writing the first draft, heavy editing, etc.). Doing the math, I’ve spent just about twenty five days worth of time this past year working on my blog. So many days I just stare at my blank computer screen, furiously searching my memory or pounding down twenty or thirty issues of a series I haven’t read hoping despondently that inspiration strikes. But I regret nothing — your continued support has made every moment of frustration and desperation worth it. Thank you to my dear readers, fellow bloggers, adoring commentators, friends and family, and anyone who ever linked to my website. Here’s to the next 200 articles! I love you all!)
In the comic book world of morally sound, 6’2″, young, clean cut superheroes, Wolverine’s popularity remains surprisingly unrelenting. He’s short, hairy, surly, ideologically skewed, and not even American — so why do fans eat up his eight or nine constantly ongoing series? Maybe we all have a claw fetish, or maybe it’s Wolverine’s constant feud with Cyclops, the sporty captain of the football team dating the head cheerleader wearing super cool sunglasses that nerds aspire to be and simultaneously loathe. Hopefully we’ll figure out the answer today (and Friday) in Wolverine #42-45, written by Marc Guggenheim and drawn by Humberto Ramos. Or we won’t, but either way, it’ll be fun.
Like most Wolverine stories, this one begins in a bar.
Smile at the surgeon joke. It’s morbid, but so is everything else about Wolverine.
Recognize that explosion? You might — it set off a chain of events that lasted the entire second half of the previous decade. In Stamford, Connecticut, the New Warriors badly apprehended the supervillain Nitro (who can explode himself due to his genetic mutation). Six hundred people died, including scores of young children. The Marvel Civil War event spurned from this, as well as the eventual Dark Reign and Siege events. While Wolverine can certainly contribute by lifting heavy blocks or slicing up melted apartment buildings or whatever, he has a slightly different idea of how he can help. Namely, Nitro’s still on the run.
For an organization filled to the brim with disobedient teenagers, none of them hold a candle to the tantrums of their hairiest member. But diplomacy and bureaucratic interference won’t stop a man who has literally fought in every war since World War I. If Nitro killed all those people, he needs to pay. Wolverine works very black and white.
First, Wolverine has to find the supervillain.
I’ve stated before how much I love Ramos’ art. His style’s distinctive and a bit cartoonish, but for characters like Wolverine, exaggerated art works perfectly. I’m not saying Wolverine’s a caricature or anything, but the whole feral side of his personality lends itself well to Ramos — that wicked smile in the last panel should be all the proof you need.
Nitro versus Wolverine round one. Well, Nitro versus Wolverine and a squad of SHIELD officers round one. Claws and grit alone can’t do much against a man who explodes himself for a living.
It goes badly. Real badly.
A main point of argument revolves around Wolverine’s healing factor, and truthfully, it’s usefulness gets determined by the current writer. Some have had him regenerate from a single cell, while others figure when Wolverine’s just a skeleton then tough luck for poor Logan. Guggenheim doesn’t have that problem. And thank goodness, because Nitro needs to be taught a lesson not learned in any classroom.
I totally skipped the context for Wolverine’s one-liner in the second page. Sorry. Something important to note: while Wolverine’s body and hair heals nicely, his clothes do not. Nitro certainly deserves this upcoming beating, but it’s far more impactful when you realize that Wolverine’s stark nude while doing so. A roundhouse kick hurts far more than physically when Nitro also gets a penetrating look at Wolverine’s little Logans.
I wouldn’t object to the next few issues of the arc just being Wolverine talking trash and ruining Nitro’s life, but good stories provide unforeseen plot twists. Like this one:
Of all the New Warriors caught in Nitro’s Stamford explosion, only Speedball survived. So when the superhero Namorita died at Nitro’s hand, he just triggered a backlash far beyond any pain and suffering he could possibly imagine. Y’know, because Namorita’s related to this man:
Next time, Wolverine vs. Namor vs. Nitro! What else could you possibly want in an article?
When you think about Superman’s history, the DC universe should really be thanking Ma and Pa Kent for raising Superman as the moral center of the entire comic book world. The Man of Steel’s generosity, unwavering goodness, and solitary desire to protect and better his world — that all came from values instilled during his youth on the Kent family farm in Smallville, Kansas. Can you imagine if baby Superman’s rocketship landed in a not-so-friendly place? I mean, besides Soviet Russia and Apokolips; those have been done already.
Today, we take a look at an alien who didn’t have that luxury of being raised correctly in Superman #655, 656, 662, and 667, written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Carlos Pacheo & Jesus Merino. This arc, which spans about eighteen issues, deals with a conundrum far greater and more powerful than I can capably relay through my website. Superman is given a decision — if he fights an upcoming evil, he secures the death of all humanity, but if he refuses to fight then millions will die and the world will be saved. The whole sacrifice one to save many problem that beings of immeasurable power have to deal with sometimes makes for excellent comics. But within those pages lies a side story you should know about.
Meet Doctor Callie Llewellyn, one of Clark Kent’s ex-girlfriends. While Kent may not be charming, he is 6’3″ and built like an NFL linebacker. Unfortunately, so is the monster that bloodied his former flame.
People complain that Superman possesses a bijillion powers. So what? I want my superheroes to be able to hear a woman talking to herself from miles away while he brawls a mega-powerful alien creature. Put the super in superhero, y’know? Take a good look at our opponent today. We don’t need Batman to tell us this baddie hasn’t led a terribly charmed life:
Though for your sake, the back story might be helpful. As you read, does his origin vaguely remind you of anyone else?
Right rocketship, wrong place. The Kents would have raised the little monster right, but labs full of mad scientists tend to make more selfish decisions. While not Subjekt 17′s fault that he turned out the way he did, a tantrum won’t solve this problem.
Unfortunately, the respite won’t last long. Superman contains this tiny character flaw that supervillains exploit — mainly, save the innocents first then return attention to the giant destructive monster. Unfortunately, when Subjekt 17 returns, and oh, does he return, it’s on far more dangerous grounds. Like Metropolis.
Besides the obvious collateral damage factor, Superman isn’t about to pummel the beast in the middle of downtown. Want to know what separates Superman from Batman? Besides Batman not being able to bench press the moon? Besides that Superman’s cousin once dated her horse while Batgirl never so much as flirted with Ace the Bat-Hound? It’s a simple difference: when an angry super strong monster punches Superman through a skyscraper, the Man of Steel still wants to peacefully negotiate. Kent upbringing and whatnot. Batman would probably take a more violent route.
Subjekt 17′s anger at Superman is justified. All the guy’s known is pain and suffering at the hands of humans because of his non-human qualities, and Superman (who’s an alien like Subjekt 17) actually defends these monsters? Well, peaceful negotiation’s out.
At this point, the monster teleports away through magic not his own. Thus begins the main plot I told you about at the beginning. Using this time away from all the bloodshed and frustration could do Subjekt 17 some good. See all the kindness in other people, right?
Okay, maybe empathy isn’t his strong suit. And with his captors dead, Subjekt 17′s guiding light can be found in the unrequited anger at the one man who threw him through the earth’s core. Unable to understand humanity, Subjekt 17′s final fight with Superman (and it is final because he never shows up in comics again) serves only to punish the kindest, most generous superhero in the DC universe. Supervillains are jerks.
How could Superman not be seen as the enemy by Subjekt 17? The wizard Arion plans to let millions die to save billions, and our antagonist very much appreciates the gesture. After all, how could humans not be seen as a scourge on the universe after Subjekt 17′s torture and experimentation for fifty straight years? So now Superman has no choice but to pummel Subjekt 17 (an innocent victim of the people Superman’s trying to protect) to save the world. What choice is there?
This fight serves three purposes. First, it ends the Subjekt 17 side plot. Second, the brawl’s a microcosm of the real choice Superman still has difficulty making. And three, we all want to see Superman punch big ugly monsters.
The man exemplifies the superhero ideal not just because of his ability to solve crimes with laser eyes and freeze breath, but because Superman always has to make those annoying tough choices that never fail to leave him bloody and righteous at the end of the day.
In this ultimate moment, when Superman stands victorious over the brute he just pounded, his thoughts aren’t that of celebration (though from the dark skies and rainstorm, you could tell the mood anyway). Just like he’d act towards a beaten Lex Luthor or a beaten Parasite or a beaten Metallo, our hero acts first and foremost with concern and care. No wonder supervillains hate Superman so much when he won’t as much as spare a second of hatred on their behalf. Plus, that gorgeous head of hair — most of Superman’s rogue gallery lacks such luscious locks.
For the super cool battle with Arion, you have to buy the book. We can only speculate Subjekt 17′s current whereabouts, but I’d like to imagine him hanging out with Killer Croc, Copperhead, and all those other vaguely reptilian baddies. A sewer family’s still a family, y’know.
I’ve shouted from the (Olympian) heavens more than once that the Incredible Hercules series remains in my top five favorite comics ever. The hard-drinking, hard-loving, super strong demi-god Hercules teams up with the teenage super genius Amadeus Cho, going on all the adventures you expect and adore. And while the series mainly focused on its namesake, writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente transformed the sidekick into a character worthy of our love and respect — that and he’s the perfect foil to Hercules’ stumblin’ strong man act.
Today, in Incredible Hercules #133, 135, and 137, written by Pak & Van Lente and drawn by Rodney Buchemi, we’re not even going to touch upon Hercules. These issues star Amadeus as he explores the mystery behind his parents’ death. No punches thrown today kids. Enjoy good ol’ fashioned brain teaser.
Perfect setting, right? Abandoned desert towns always make for sinister backdrops.
At this point, I should probably explain Amadeus’ back story. Unlike, say, Tony Stark who we just assume to a be one of the ten smartest people in the world, for Amadeus we have proof.
And how did that explosion miss its intended target?
I’m just saying that if Amadeus were a female, he would have been blown to bits. Luckily, teenage hormones don’t cease in the comic book world. Also if you haven’t noticed from his kimchi reference, despite his sidekick status, Amadeus receives critical acclaim for being a positive example of a Korean superhero. Anyway, the abandoned desert town gets weird. Fast. Also, it’s not abandoned.
See the conspiracy? Geniuses get killed off for being geniuses — I assume some kind of jock master plan. Fortunately, we get to see Amadeus in action, if you’ve ever wanted to see how the seventh smartest person in the world fights.
I love this concept. Amadeus’ intelligence ranks so high that he sees the world as math equations, compared to Hercules who almost certainly believes the word “equation” to be a sort of Mediterranean dish. Though you know who can throw a smart guy for a loop? A smarter guy, of course.
I’m going to skip a ton. The entire second issue of the arc revolves around a complicated D&D style game for control of Amadeus’ mind and the superior intellect of Pythagoras. It rocks and you should devote some time to finding the issue and reading it. But the final genius-off struggle between the two was what made me excited about this arc. Let’s get into it, but first, cue character development:
The next three or four pages include Pythagoras’ complicated back story, evil origins, and reasons for blowing up Amadeus’ parents. You can read that stuff for yourself, but Amadeus only sought out this monster for one reason only: his sister.
Okay, so that search ends up a bust. Mysteries don’t always conclude with the bad guy’s rubber mask pulled off, though I really wish they all did if just for a booming rubber industry. To find out who’s the smarter genius, the two have to play the coolest smart person game ever written in comics:
Has math ever been this exciting? More importantly, how does our hero win this no-win situation?
I think Amadeus knew what Pythagoras would do if Amadeus refused to play, essentially ensuring the man’s death. Amadeus, a superhero, doesn’t murder (gosh darn it) and he kinda did murder Pythogoras — even if he got sucked into a game without his consent. Oh well, so’s the tragic life of the hero. Still, if we count that, Amadeus is still thousands of murders behind Hercules. Seriously, I can’t figure out if Hercules has more kills or body hair.
Athena, Hercules’ sister, witnesses the whole thing. Want a final plot twist?
And a new champion he becomes. No, seriously — Amadeus totally rocks nowadays. Here’s him a few issues later, in the double spread glory he deserves:
Click for a larger version, if just for the only superhero to fight crime in a designer suit and jacket.
Batman’s supervillains constantly have to find new ways to entertain themselves. When every evildoer in the city just so happens to be a big ball of crazy, all the normal amoral activities have been done and then done again as a maze or inside a giant cake or something. Luckily for Victor Zsasz, he has no problem recycling the classics:
Child gladiators it is, then. Three or four children fight each other, then get massacred by a grown man. A man pops the collar on his trench coat. Today, as we explore Batman: Streets of Gotham #10-11, written by Paul Dini and drawn by Dustin Nguyen, I give you the one thing you’ve never asked for and never will — a team up with two ten year-old boys.
Specifically, these ten year-old boys:
To keep Zsasz’s coffers full of tiny warriors, runaways and latch-key kids are getting constantly kidnapped by his henchmen. Damian Wayne (Robin) and Colin Wilkes bump into each other investigating the same thing. Never heard of Colin? He’s only showed up in seven or eight issues ever but let’s give you some flashbacks anyway from Detective Comics #847-848, also written by Dini and drawn by Nguyen. Apparently, child kidnapping occurs far more often than comfortable in Gotham City, because this time the Scarecrow’s gathering up a crop of orphans.
In a reasonable plot twist, the poor kid has to battle the Dark Knight.
I mean, Scarecrow gave him superpowers. I don’t know how many unarmed, scared fifth graders Batman could take on at once, but I imagine the number has a buttload of zeroes. Eventually, Batman takes out Colin the same way he takes out Bane.
Now, despite an obvious record of child endangerment, Batman’s not about to leave the poor kid soaked in venom. Unfortunately, even the Dark Knight’s not perfect, though so very close.
Neat, right? Like if Captain Marvel merged with Sin City. As we get back to our story, Zsasz’s gang arrives to snatch up our protagonists, and they don’t even provide luxuries like candy or PS3.
Usually this would be a slam dunk for Zsasz’s henchmen. Definitely a raise, or at least not getting their throat slit when they get back to the arena. Sadly for them, they tried to kidnap Robin. A very angry. Robin.
Leaving behind his new buddy, Damian rushes to battle the supervillain alone. And normally, this wouldn’t be anything to fret about. Zsasz has no superpowers, and Robin (having been trained since birth by the League of Assassins) has far beyond the needed ability to defeat Zsasz in combat. Normally.
While the audience certainly doesn’t help, something’s weird about our supervillain.
No reason ever gets provided for how Zsasz can slice up Damian without actually hitting him. Or maybe he does, I don’t know. With Robin thrown for a loop, only one man can save him now. And by man, I mean child.
When I mention that Colin (superhero name Abuse) saves Damian’s life, some readers may shrug apathetically, if just because he died a horrific (impalement) death a month or two ago. Look, Damian’s obnoxious, arrogant, and wildly young — but over the three or so years he served as Robin, I think fans came around. And not just because he’s Batman’s biological son. The amount of growth and character development that ten year-old accomplished in such a short time truly is a phenomenal effort on the part of the writers, specifically Grant Morrison (who created him, made him Robin, and then killed him off). Still, this arc’ll just have to serve as a flowery memorial on the gravesite of Damian Wayne adventures.
This story wouldn’t have a proper ending if we didn’t get Zsasz round two. Superheroes always get a second chance of victory after being humiliated by their respective supervillains. That’s comic book writing 101. Luckily for us, it’s awesome.
Y’see, when superheroes get their rematch, they usually win with a fancy trick or surprise device, but Damian wins the combat by simply being the better fighter. That’s what a decade of ninja-ing does, especially when one wields his first pair of nunchucks at the same time as being potty trained. We end today with a melodramatic rant, because while Batman supervillains may not be super strong or super durable, they do possess a super flair for drama.
Zsasz lives, of course, and Damian goes on to learn that maybe disemboweling his enemies might not be how Batman wants crime fighting done. Colin doesn’t show up anymore, but have no fear, Gotham City will always have plenty of baddies for a monster child to punch — just off panel now.
It’s been a while since our last Spider-Man article, and I’m here to fill that void in your heart. Y’see, if you’ve been following Superior Spider-Man, last issue Peter Parker met his defeat at the hand of guilt revelation. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense if you’re not caught up, but as fans cried out (as they do every single time the status quo gets changed), writer Dan Slott made a solid point: Spider-Man simply never forgives himself for any mistake or decision he makes. Ever. Rinse and repeat for fifty years. And to be fair, that level of morality is impossible — we as people make selfish choices all the time, regardless of how small or unimportant. Unfortunately, Spider-Man goes down a spiral of self-loathing the moment his mind is made up.
Well, get ready for a sadness punch in your tear ducts. Today in Spectacular Spider-Man #22, written by Paul Jenkins and drawn by Talent Caldwell, Spider-Man receives some permanent emotional damage. And speaking of emotional damage, let me quickly tell you about Mindworm. You almost certainly haven’t heard of him.
He first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #138, written by Gerry Conway and drawn by Ross Andru. Mindworm’s a mutant with the power to influence the emotions of others, even able to project illusions and other vague stuff. Also, wearing a striped tanktop as your supervillain costume pretty much guarantees insignificance. Here’s Spider-Man taking him down in their first encounter:
As we fast forward 30ish years of comics, Parker notices a weird section of town where everyone seems influenced by a heavy mood of hostility. You know where this is going?
The years haven’t been kind to Mindworm. When we get deeper into the supervillain’s psyche, it’s a blast of mental illness and terrible life choices. Unlike Moon Knight, Mindworm’s mental illness doesn’t have Wolverine yelling at him, instead just a projected wave of depression. As Spider-Man recognizes this once proud man, he makes the most valid point against superheroism today:
Let’s be fair. Captain America inspires and reassures the Marvel universe, but at the end of the day, he does punch his way to victory. And when the problem doesn’t involve megalomaniacs threatening cities with giant bombs, punching usually solves very little. What’s Spider-Man to do that won’t turn this issue into an after school special? Well, lots of guilt for one.
Both Aunt May and Spider-Man make solid arguments. I mean, Spider-Man is a man with the proportionate strength of a spider, not Zeus. No matter how fast he swings, he can’t save everyone — and the sooner Parker accepts that, the sooner he can actually find some contentment in his life. On the other hand, Spider-Man has a duty to help those who can’t help themselves. When you receive awesome superpowers, you then have to devote your life to protecting those without. That’s kind of how the deal works. Unfortunately, things get worse.
Look, I love Spider-Man with all my heart, but he is a man in pajamas webbing around a city that’s 300 square miles. The fact he could even arrive at the scene of a crime even remotely on time speaks volumes in itself. Now, stuck in a situation far beyond any punching could solve, all he can do is react accordingly.
I hate to mention this, but Spider-Man loses fights far more than you think. Sometimes he falls with a roundhouse kick to the face, but other times, the baddie claimed victory before Spider-Man even steps in the ring. Does Mindworm deserve this ending? God, no. Does Spider-Man deserve to have this freak accident on his conscience? Absolutely not. But he will, and it breaks our hearts.
You know why Spider-Man remains the most popular Marvel character year after year? He’s portrayed as a normal guy like us, but truthfully, he’s our better: physically, mentally, and emotionally — a literary role model for us to emulate. Or maybe it’s the quips. One of those two reasons.
If you aren’t a big comic book fan, you’ve probably never heard of Moon Knight. That’s okay. Despite his forty years in comics, Avengers status, and prominent mental illness, Moon Knight simply hasn’t generated the popularity of his other superhero buddies. But he’s worth your time. I promise. Here’s one of his earliest moments from Defenders #47, volume one:
Marc Spector, soldier and master martial artist, stumbled upon the Egyptian moon god Khonshu who then gave him super powers. Though you don’t have to remember all that jazz, because nowadays he’s a non-powered rich guy in a gadget-filled costume. Maybe that’s why he gets unfairly labeled as Marvel’s Batman. For one, Spector’s superhero career isn’t born out of an unquenchable quest of vengeance. Plus, the guy’s a major schizophrenic, making Moon Knight the poster boy for positive (albeit fictitious) role models succeeding despite mental illness. That and he can use it as a weapon, like against the mind-absorbing Rogue in X-Men Legacy #267, written by Christos Gage and drawn by Rafa Sandoval:
Today though, we’re focusing on his solo series that premiered in 2011. Realizing that New York has plenty of superheroes to keep it safe, Moon Knight packs up his stuff and heads to Los Angeles — both to stop the current kingpin terrorizing the city and to use his wealth and influence to break into show business. Two birds with one stone. Unfortunately, the City of Angel’s big baddie happens to be Count Nefaria. Besides wearing an old-timey vampire costume, the count possesses super-everything including flight and laser eyes. Like a gaudy Superman. Count Nefaria actually aligns himself with Thor’s rogue gallery, if that’s any indication of his strength. Let the count sum it up:
Safe to say Moon Knight simply doesn’t have the power to take this guy, but it’s not going to stop him from trying. Let’s take a look at their battles in Moon Knight #7, #9, and #12, written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Alex Maleev.
After forcing Count Nefaria to make a maneuver for a rogue head of Ultron, Moon Knight pulls a Batman-esque trick of unleashing a weakening virus when a fake Ultron head bombs the count. That old trick.
Round one goes to our protagonist. By the way, remember the multiple personalities? Luckily for Spector, his three others happen to be Captain America, Spider-Man, and Wolverine. Not bad at all. Just remember, the hallucinations are all figments of Moon Knight’s imagination:
Wolverine makes a good point. With Count Nefaria humiliated, he’ll strike back at full power hoping to gain back his reputation. Unfortunately, it happens when Moon Knight’s hanging out with his friend/love interest/partner Echo, the only other superhero in LA.
Normal superheroes couldn’t survive this onslaught. But Moon Knight has some backup. Mental backup. At a clear disadvantage, Spector primarily needs some strategic advice first. Cue Captain America.
No escape here. Poor Moon Knight’s a normal guy in a bulky white costume against a man who’s a challenge for the entire Avengers when they fight him all at one. Impossible situations definitely favor personality number two: Spider-Man.
Watch the beauty of the next part. The action’s so well laid out, plus I’m always a big fan of when supervillains get smashed into things.
Surely that would slow down this monster, right? Oh, you naive reader, anything less than catastrophic damage just gets shrugged off. I promise I’m not joking with the article title.
Maybe Wolverine has a good idea. He wins most of the time, I think.
Of course something bad happens, because good stories get worse before they get better.
Poor Echo. Former Avenger, talented warrior, and a prominent deaf superhero — now dead at the hands of laser Dracula. And it may not look like it from the above picture, but the girl’s very much deceased:
At this point in the fight, Moon Knight predictably escapes. Or collapses in a bloody blind rage. Look, either way, Moon Knight lost badly — the death of his teammate pretty much wraps up the worst battle of his LA crimefighting career. Still, with great power comes great responsibility, and when Count Nefaria pops up later slaughtering a police station, their battle has to come to an end.
As most hand-to-hand fights against beings with god-like powers go, Moon Knight gets his butt kicked.
But like most non-powered superheroes, Moon Knight learns from his mistakes. He has to rely on his brains and not his brawn, after all. And what’s the smartest way to handle one of the most powerful supervillains in the Marvel universe? Call in the team that only fights baddies like him.
Click on the picture for a larger version of the double-spread. Lesson to be learned from Moon Knight’s LA adventure? Make friends. Lots of friends. Iron Man would be a good one to start with.
Unfortunately like many superhero tales, a bittersweet ending’ll be the best we can hope. I’ll accept it — tragedies sell better anyway.
Aquaman has a fairly wussy reputation. DC knows this. The writers know this. You certainly know this, no matter how small your comic knowledge. Well, the New 52 (the DC reboot about a year and a half ago) decided to do something about it.
Okay, I know that Aquaman has always done super manly stuff in his solo series for the 50ish years he’s been swimming around. It’s not as if he snuggles with dolphins or makes rainbow collages out of starfish — the guy’s a powerful, respected ruler of anything wet and moist. Unfortunately, one picture of Aquaman riding a seahorse and we forget quickly about him trident-stabbing hordes of mermen.
With the reboot, besides characters reminding the reader every other issue that they can’t believe Aquaman (real name Arthur Curry) saved them from certain death, Aquaman struggles with the whole being from two worlds and neither one terribly accepting thing. It’s a classic literary plot, and it still holds up today. But I don’t care about that. Today, we’re just going to take a look at some awesome Aquaman moments from the past year or so. I’m using the following:
Justice League #3-4, written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Jim Lee
Justice League #14-17, written by Johns and drawn by Tony S. Daniel, Ivan Reis, & Paul Pelletier
Aquaman #15-17, written by Johns and drawn by Pelletier
As you’ve realized, Johns remained instrumental in making Aquaman relevant in modern DC comics, but he’s been a genius for years. First up, Aquaman’s premiere moment with the Justice League:
Cool, right? Sexy stubble, giant weapon, and unapologetic confidence. And that doesn’t even include embarrassing Green Lantern:
I didn’t even know sharks came that big. By the way, next time someone gushes about Darkseid, remind him that we have literary proof of his minions being eaten by large fish. But what I really want to talk about is the first Justice League crossover (which is DC’s flagship title). Luckily, it was Aquaman-centric, called appropriately Throne of Atlantis. Arthur’s brother attacks the surface world. He looks neat too, but I’m a sucker for fish-themed armor.
For reference, Aquaman abdicated his throne years ago, giving him the same political pull in Atlantis that say, Batman has. Still, part of Aquaman’s coolness stems from his unabashed commands and orders. Even to family.
A tricky political situation, certainly. Since comics can’t have a group of seven people come together without some internal bashing, Aquaman fights the entire Justice League. Context isn’t as important as pages like this:
I think some readers underestimate Aquaman’s strength. The man can shrug off most bullets, swim crazy fast, and can easily punch as hard as Wonder Woman. Though to be fair, Arthur certainly can’t do stuff like this:
And thus, the war begins.
Now, a lot happens between this page above and the one I’m about to show you. Like two or three full fights worth, but you really just want to see Aquaman battle his brother, right? Readers love the emotional struggle added to the whole physical mess. Especially if the physical mess involves tridents.
Arthur’s next point takes a few reads to understand. At least it did for me.
Beautiful full page punch. Okay, from what I figure Aquaman meant, leaders lead a life of loneliness — whether that be from the heavy burden of constant major decisions or the inability to have others relate to one’s situation. Aquaman figured he’d rather have friends than the oceans. Too bad Orm ruined that. Stupid obligations, right?
Darn tootin’. You promise to make fun of Aquaman a little less now? Like one fewer joke per week? Also, maybe you should read his ongoing series, which features all sorts of aquatic-based adventures and trident attacks. And threatening whalers, because some things never change.