[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Philippe Briones
Inker: Wayne Faucher
Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb
At the end of last issue, Aquaman had arrived at N.E.M.O.’s mobile base of operations. With this issue we get to see how that showdown ends, but we also get a resolution to the war between Atlantis and the United States.
Aquaman makes quite a speech as he engages Black Manta. It turns out that we are actually getting Aquaman’s narration to the President of the United States as he recounts the events on the ship. It’s not fair to say that Aquaman makes short work of N.E.M.O., but he is a one man wrecking crew. When he finally has Black Manta in a position to subdue him, Manta hits the self-destruct on the N.E.M.O. base. A search reveals no body, so Manta is probably still alive somewhere.
As the scene shifts to the Oval Office, and with Superman at his side Aquaman continues his monologue and moves on to the war between the U.S. and Atlantis. He freely surrenders so that hostilities can end. Aquaman and the President make a joint statement acknowledging the role N.E.M.O. played in instigating the war between the two nations. Back in Atlantis, Mera is delighted to see the prophecy of the Deluge averted, but the widows of Atlantis claim that the prophecy is always out there and that Mera is still a danger. The issue ends with Black Jack crawling onto the shore of an island amid the debris of the wrecked N.E.M.O. headquarters.
This issue definitely portrays Aquaman at his most powerful. There should be no doubt that Aquaman is a formidable individual. And not once did he talk to the fish in the final battle. This issue was also remarkable in it’s portrayal of Aquaman as King and the types of decisions he has to make in that capacity. While he went all out physical on Manta and N.E.M.O., he had to go all out diplomatic with the President.
It was interesting to see him insinuate that he could kill the President if he wished to do so and would be well within his right as they were the heads of warring nations. This arc sets the stage for a new approach to Aquaman. Since the beginning of the Rebirth era, Abnett has attempted to show this side of Aquaman and now with this arc concluded, there’s no way to go back unless he steps down. Superman’s reaction to Arthur is interesting as it shows how different the two are, especially their responsibilities.
It might’ve been nice to see a bit longer battle between Aquaman and N.E.M.O. I was a bit surprised at how easily Arthur claimed victory, although Manta did abbreviate the encounter with the self-destruct button.
This was a satisfying conclusion to the war between the U.S. and Atlantis that featured a powerful and capable Aquaman. This puts Aquaman in a different light and certainly future Aquaman stories will be informed by this take on the character. Aquaman has been taken into the realm of world politics.