Friday, November 2, 2012

Paul's Picks!... Is Back! - November 2, 2012

Well, it's that time again folks: Wednesday! And you know what Wednesday is?... Well, of course you do, you're reading a blog about comics, so you obviously know it's New Comics Day, a.k.a. Paul's favorite weekly holiday! And now for his much-anticipated pick-of-the-week...

Hello friends! Wow, it has been WAY too long since I found my way on here to share my weekly thoughts with you all... Life has been coming at me pretty hard with Student Teaching on the horizon. But no more excuses, I'm here today to bring you my pick of the week, and boy is it a doozy!

In a week of very few monthly comics and a stack full of annuals, I had all but given my pick of the week to TMNT #15 (Shocker, right? You can read more about it on this week's show, download it here.). And to be honest, that issue was certainly fantastic, and I would gladly recommend it to anyone, as it is still one of the most consistently great books on the market. With that being said, at the last minute my Pick of the Week was taken by a sleeper, so to say. It's a book that  I have been thoroughly enjoying, but that has never gone above "good" to achieve the greatness that I expect out of my Pick. And that book is...

Aquaman #13 by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis

Oooo, Pretty...
This issue wraps of the arc about "The Others," this strange group of antiheroes that Arthur spent years in his past with adventuring and battling Black Manta, who he held responsible for his father's death. In a shocking turn of events, we discover that Arthur actually murdered Manta's father, believing him to be his son, and that Arthur's dad actually died of natural causes. Back in the present day, Manta has found third relic of the ancient king of Atlantis, and he is going to return it to his mysterious employer. Aquaman, Mera, and the Others (that are still kicking) follow after him, and an epic battle ensues. I won't spoil everything for you, but the employer is revealed to be a staple character from Aquaman's past, setting us up for an exciting new arc and crossover with JL coming up, titled "Throne of Atlantis."

So now that you know the story, I'll give you three points where this book absolutely NAILED it for me. You ready? Here we go...

1. The cover says it all. Two words: Ivan Reis. Coming off of the news that he will soon be leaving Aquaman and going onto JL, this issue reaffirms for me just how badly I'm going to miss him on the title. This issue pulls something off that is very difficult, something that Reis accomplished time and time again on Blackest Night, and that is creating beautiful and kinetic action sequences that become cinematic for the reader. Just look at that cover; does it not look like a theatrical poster for an Aquaman film? And that is exactly how this issue felt for me: cinematic, like some epic tale being shown incredibly on the silver screen. This book managed to give us the best epic ending to an arc that I believe I have read so far from the New 52. Johns and Lee tried to pull it off with the opening arc of JL and missed the mark. I would even argue that, reading in single issues, the ending of the Night of the Owls crossover dropped some of its momentum at the ending. But this single issue contained a truly epic feel, one that was not lost on me, and I would dare say that this arc, especially if read in collected format, would read as one of the most fun and beautiful drawn stories so far from the New 52. Bam.

Put that suit on.
2. Every emotional mark was hit spot-on. Something that Johns had a good handle on with that first issue was trying to combat this worldwide view of Aquaman as being a wimpy, laughable character. Sadly, I feel like he kind of lost a lot of that emotional importance as the series went on, instead giving us some cheap action or focusing too much on ancillary characters rather than Arthur himself. However, he brings it all back in for us when it counts here in the final issue of this arc. Reading those pages with Arthur and Mera, where she tells him to put his Aquaman suit back on, now that felt like one of those memorable, key emotion moments in a book. It's that epiphany we've been looking for, that something that links us to the character in a way that it's no longer just about reading a story; now we're invested in the outcome. I had traveled with him all the way to the bottom of the ocean in his search for vengeance, but it wasn't until he stepped back and saw himself for who he truly was that I could fully connect with him as a character. Well done, Geoff.

3. Finally, I Love Black Manta. You heard it here, folks. I love this character. Like Aquaman, he's been the butt end of a lot of jokes. But if you think this guy is a laughable, throw-away villain, then you need to come read this arc. This guy is one baaaaad dude, and he doesn't care to get his hands dirty. He's a cold-blooded murderer, and he's good at it. And yet, in this issue, we see him in a slightly different light. When he and Arthur finally face off (which we've been anticipating for at least 6 issues), it doesn't go the way that you expected. Even Manta's reactions are different, and through the light of the knowledge of Arthur killing his father, perhaps we can also understand why he is who he is and does what he does. This is what I love about DC villains, that epic-ness that some of these guys take on, and yet sometimes they can seem so human.

I'm not saying this arc, or even that this issue is a masterpiece, but boy is it a lot of fun. If you haven't been reading Aquaman, I suggest you go check it out, especially if you're looking for a "sleeper" book, or even something different from DC. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Thanks for reading guys! Let me know what you thought on twitter: @AncillaryTweets or, myself personally @jollygreen05. Until next week!

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