Aquaman and The Others #1 – Friday Flash Review
Shadowhawk and Bane of Kings take a look at the first issue of a new series that focuses on the Geoff Johns-created superhero team The Others.
“I remain unimpressed. But at least this was a better issue than Jurgens’ work on Superman for New 52.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields
“It’s good to see Aquaman get a second ongoing series but Jurgens unfortunately can only deliver an average debut.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
One of the best things that happened during Geoff Johns’ New 52 run on Aquaman was that he created the superhero team known as The Others. They are a group of Aquaman’s friends from his early days who all have some sort of superpower, and some extra muscle in the form of Atlantean relics recovered from an ancient Atlantean treasure vault. During Geoff’s run, two members of the group died, but the others have survived and now, as DC moves into its next phase of plans for the overall DC universe and begins to roll out some new titles, Aquaman and The Others is at the forefront, leading the charge as it were.
Dan Jurgens, who is the writer on this issue, has had a tough time of the New 52. His run on Superman was extremely problematic and there were loud whispers of strong editorial interference as well. None of which helped the title any in terms of popular opinion, although the book has had good to decent sales. Now he is back on Aquaman and The Others. I must say that initially I was confused by this, since DC has had John Ostrander write some Aquaman fill-in issues featuring The Others and since Geoff Johns isn’t doing any writing at the moment, he’d have been a great fit to come back to the characters he created.
But still. I wasn’t really sure what to think about this series. I was excited about getting to read more about The Others, but since I haven’t had a good run-in with Dan Jurgens’ writing, I was apprehensive about the whole thing. And that fear is somewhat justified here because the story wasn’t really all that exciting. It follows a tried-and-true cliche for a debut like this and it doesn’t really add all that much personality to any of the characters. And The Others are a group with lots of diverse personalities that clash every now and then even though they are all good friends and all. The inclusion of a new member last year strengthened the group, but Sky is just not a good fit for the story here. Her dialogue is stilted, formal and for some reason she appears to not know who Aquaman really is even though she’s already shared at least one adventure with him, in last year’s Aquaman Annual.
When Geoff and John were writing her, Ya’wara was a really fantastic and layered character. Under Dan’s pen however, she falls far short of the mark. It is as if Dan breezed through the writing by his fellow writers, noted down some core points, and just regurgitated them. There’s this one scene where the entire team gathers together and one of the first things we see is Ya’wara going off at Aquaman and dragging his wife Mera into all of this, who is not present at the moment. There was a fair amount of tension between the two women previously but they got over that. And now Dan is doing all that again. Le sigh.
With the story itself, it just didn’t work all that well for me. It isn’t anything that we’ve not seen before. Michael Alan Nelson’s run on Supergirl, with his Cyborg-Superman arc, comes to mind as one of the latest such stories. And we don’t have to look beyond Geoff’s own run on Aquaman for that either. The story is a cliche and the execution is decent at best. Which means that it is barely passable. And it supposedly leads into DC’s upcoming weekly series Future’s End, which was odd. A new book being tied to another book from the get go? Yeah, that’s not something that works out too well generally, a few exceptions not withstanding.
On the art side, we have Lan Medina on pencils, Allen Martinez on inks, Matt Milla on colours and Rob Leigh on the letters. The art was better than decent actually. The artists all seem to have captured the characters fairly well, except for Ya’wara who seems to change faces a fair bit during the issue and the same goes for Sky as well. Aquaman and Operative and Prisoner of War are drawn fairly well in that regard. And as for the inks and colours, they all seemed to be on point. When Sky goes into the dreamland, there’s a nice change of palette, considering that she was in a desert before that (a preservation reserve or some such actually), and now she is in some kind of a ghost world. The best thing that can be said about the art is that it hews fairly close to what Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Paul Pelletier have done on Aquaman in the New 52, and that creates a strong tie-back for this series to its parent title. Which is just well.
If the writing had been better, then this could really have been a much better book, but as it is, it is a decent one at best.
Bane of Kings:
Story: Dan Jurgens | Pencils: Lan Medina | Inks: Allen Martinez | Colours: Mat Milla | Cover: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado & Rod Reis
A “FUTURES END” prelude! Spinning out of AQUAMAN, the King of Atlantis and his teammates find themselves targeted by an unknown foe that wants their Atlantean artifacts! Don’t miss the start of this all-new series!
Aquaman and the Others is a title that I’ve been on the fence about primarily because of Dan Jurgens – I haven’t had the best experience with him in the past as a writer so I was anxious about trying this title out, particularly when I expected it to go to the man who played a large part in fleshing out the Others, John Ostrander – who I would have loved to see on this title. Dan Jurgens came as a bit of a surprise but this title was always going to be picked up by me anyway – because I’m a big fan of the Others characters – created by Geoff Johns and one of the first few New 52 creations to get their own title, along with Talon, Green Team/Movement and The Ravagers. It was great to see Aquaman also get a second title as well – especially because the character has been in one book for a while. Now it’s just a question of keeping up the momentum, and improving the title as it goes on because Aquaman and the Others is unfortunately merely an okay first issue, but still as a hook that will keep readers back for more.
The title itself also allows for an interesting prologue for the upcoming weekly series Future’s End – so if you want to get a teaser for that then this is where to look. This book deals with the Others being targeted by an unknown foe after their Atlantean artefacts, and doesn’t have to go down the traditional route of providing a recruitment mission for the team because well, Aquaman fans will already be familiar to the characters due to Ostrander and Johns’ work in the past. For newcomers it might be a bit tricky to navigate into Aquaman’s world, so you’re better off trying out his solo series first before coming onto this one – especially when the title is better quality in the first place even without Johns on the book.
The plot itself is pretty solid. The Atlantean artefacts are all starting to malfunction when the Others are attacked simultaneously around the globe. It gives Jurgens a good way of moving Aquaman into the title as well – and whilst it’s not the most original book, we’ve seen a lot worse in the New 52 in the past and this issue provides a solid debut, pulling out a surprise at the end which will hopefully keep readers hooked for the next issue.
Aquaman and the Others boasted multiple artists this month. The cover, as typical of Ivan Reis, Joe Prado & Rod Reis, is excellent – whilst Lan Medina’s pencils are pretty solid and the inks and colours of Mat Milla and Allen Martinez really help add to the atmospheric feel of the book. It’s great to see the King of Atlantis getting another book and hopefully these will be the artists that will remain on this title because they deliver a pretty impressive showing, and for this month at least, I’ll have to admit I’ve been surprised by Jurgens and he’s delivered better than what I’ve read by him in the past.
It’s certainly enough to keep me around for this week and it’ll be interesting to see how The Others are fleshed out more as characters. It’s not the most original first issue but Jurgens puts in an impressive read and I’ll be willing to give this book at least an arc.