[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Bryan Hill
Artists: N. Steven Harris, Larry Hama, Dearbhla Kelly
Michael Cray continues his assignments against the evil Justice League of this WildStorm Universe. This month it’s Aquaman that Michael is assigned to capture. A ‘God’ to a remote fishing village, this monstrous Arthur Curry feeds on human sacrifices delivered to him by the village. Cray’s work is made harder this time around since it’s not just one man he’s up against, it’s an entire village.
The first thing to comment on has to be the beautiful cover. I’m always happy to see any Bill Sienkiewicz contribution.
This issue takes a lot of clear inspiration from Gothic Literature. Cray even has a not so subtle conversation about Frankenstein. It lends itself well to the story as a way of making these elseworld Justice League stories fresh. Each character feels well established, even if this is the first time readers will see them. The mad scientist worked well for Flash, and now to have Aquaman as a Gothic monster seems like such an obvious idea, it’s almost annoying how surprising it is to actually see.
Throughout the issue there is a Gothic tone, with the Curry mansion being the spooky house at the top of the hill. The ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality of the characters, and especially the fish out of water aspect of Cray visiting a remote village full of strange people (pun intended). And the fact that this isn’t the most violent issue, but the blood and gore here is presented in a style similar to classic horror. Little things like this make the series one of the best currently ongoing.
Aquaman himself is great. The fleeting moments readers get to see him help add to the Gothic mystique of the issue. What we do get certainly encourages readers to pick up the next issue, as I for one want to know more about this Frankenstein’s monster version of Aquaman.
On top of everything, the general pacing and action is well done. While I am not the biggest fan of the artwork, the somewhat choppy style works wonderfully in the tense fight scenes. Likewise, the paneling is always intriguing and features enough variety to keep each page interesting.
As alluded to, the artwork still isn’t my cup of tea. This month, more than others, it seems more noticeable how off the faces are. All the faces seem to have no symmetry of any kind. On one page, Michael Cray’s eyes might be inches apart, and on another they could be anywhere. It’s like there’s no structure to faces and the artists just planted facial features wherever they felt like.
As far as negatives go that’s not bad for an issue, however. The consistency of this issue makes me think it’s a style that I just don’t agree with, but others might, so I would still highly recommend the one.
Bryan Hill delivers another compelling story about Michael Cray taking on an evil elseworld version of a popular Justice League character. Despite the recurring premise, Hill manages to make each tale different enough to keep readers wanting more.