Comic Reviews for the Shipping Week of 31 October: Justice League / Aquaman - Drowned Earth #1
Justice League / Aquaman: Drowned Earth #1
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Howard Porter
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Strange endings to this one
The Sich: Hot on the heels of the last issue of Justice League, Justice League #10, we launch directly into the story proper. So it’s like a start, but the prologue really started the story, and so, even according to Scott Snyder himself via his Twitter account, you should consider this Part 2. And so we are returned to the blood reef, and we pick up right away with where we left Mera, having just released Ocean Lord, Aquaman’s half-brother Orm, and basically, the Earth was partially flooded, or mostly flooded, between Justice League #10 and Aquaman #41, and we get more of the despair.
Art: Howard Porter might very well be an acquired taste. I do like him and have for some time. But the art here sways from what I think of as his baseline style to the slightly surreal and stylistic and that felt a bit disruptive. And by that I point mostly to things like young Arthur Curry’s eyes being so welled up with tears that his face starts to look like a wax figure and it kind of looks like his face is melting. There’s a slight blip in the Matrix seemingly, when Arthur seems to be looking at holographic projections of what is happening on earth provided by Sea Mistress Tyyde, but Adam Strange is in two of the pictures...just seemed a bit weird. Some of the creature work is spectacular and spot on, like when the setting is the blood reef, but then Sea monster Jim Gordon looks overly diminutive and just not scary at all. So the art waivers from the spectacularly beautiful to the just a bit weird. That Batman in the rain standing on the ledge is the STUFF! Gordon’s hair. And then he doesn’t always seem to nail Clark. Again, it’s not that any of it isn’t good, it’s that it’s not all consistent from panel-to-panel, and especially in Clark’s face you can see the slips from realistic and very square jaw, and then a bit cartoony or maybe stylized with overly large eyes. I was like 90% of it was 99/100, but then 10% of it was just stylistically skewed such that it jarred me out of my seat, which, as I always say, even if it’s good, the art is not supposed to disrupt the progression of my reading with a barge
Story: And I kind of landed in the same place on story, although from a slightly different vector. Whereas on art, I predominantly disliked the things that I did not understand, on story it was a bit more a morbid curiosity. Arc-wise, it was a bit of a curious thing here we were tumbled into despair in both JL #10 and Aquaman #41, and then we get more drilling us down into the well of despair, with very little hope for us to cling to. I kind of was expecting to see a spark here of the potential end to the thing. I guess you do get Diana showing up at the end and, man, that is a bad-ass drop in, very similar to the Thor arrival in Infinity War. But I don’t know if I feel like that is enough; like, why is Diana showing up, other then her savagery and willingness to kill when the threat calls for it, more of an equalizer than Superman getting pissed about losing Metropolis? The notion that this is really all about the Sea Lords stealing Arthur’s ocean telepathy? To give it to Black Manta? And where is the rest of the legion of Doom? And Flash did not escape touching the water monster unscathed, but he does not reveal how he is affected? Things I did love that were...I guess more tangible and deterministic: the Aquaman / Black Manta fight, Superman’s Super-Clap (THANKS for NOT making it him going Super-Nova!), Orm sacrificing himself might have been the most emotionally impacting event in the whole thing. And the thing that was most weird was Bruce submerging himself to the basement to watch over the Totality? So he’s removed himself from the chess board? Or is he pulling a New 52?
SCORE: 8.0 / 10
Conclusion: So far in my stack, this is the most engaging story I’ve read this week (as I am writing this I have also read through Justice League Dark / Wonder Woman #1 as well). This is, as I have been saying, the exact type of crisis that requires the Justice League, with big consequences, and some scary ramifications that may come out of the setting of the new status quo. I was not all that thrilled or interested in what the fallout of Metal was, but this? I am waiting with bated breath and have high hopes that the complexity of outcomes is commensurate with the weavings of the story