Aquaman is the Ringo Starr of DC Comics. Ringo was consistently seen as the lesser of the famous 1960’s iconic rock band, The Beatles. In comparison to Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, Aquaman fits Ringo’s role. Aquaman led his way into popular culture in the 1970’s cartoon series titled Super Friends, a child friendly Justice League. Aquaman has always had that odd role as being a card-carrying member of the Justice League, yet never seen as a top tiered superhero.
In recent years, that’s started to change. In The New 52, DC Comics reinvented the King of Atlantis and made his stories more poignant and exciting. His costume and physical appearance will get an overhaul soon, as well, where he’ll be played by a long haired, ripped Jason Momoa in upcoming films.
Now, Aquaman is being reworked once more in DC’s Rebirth initiative with Aquaman Rebirth #1.
Aquaman Rebirth #1 begins with narrative by an unknown source giving us a little preamble about the Dweller of the Depths. After a few panels, the comic goes straight into the action – pitting Aquaman against a rogue band of Atlantians called The Deluge, who want to attack surface dwellers. The action is fast and furious, as Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman, takes on this threat. Through the battle, we get a sense of what’s plaguing Aquaman – he is a man of two worlds and trying to find peace between both surface dwellers and Atlantians. It’s a balance he can never really achieve, which leads to some much-needed tension.
Writer Dan Abnett does a good job with the tempo of Aquaman Rebirth #1. The opening two-thirds of the comic are filled with both riveting action and contextualization for those new to the King of Atlantis. The final act is a quiet sit-down with Arthur and his love interest, Mera. They have a little chowder at a seaside café called Sam’s Seafood – a quaint place Aquaman likes to frequent when he needs to feel more grounded being a man of two worlds.
Artists Scot Eaton and Oscar Jimenez do a quality job bringing the panels to life, especially in the final page where readers find out who the mysterious narrator is. Their artwork in Aquaman Rebirth, with regards to the action sequences are also their strength – chalked full of underwater mayhem that Aquaman needs to corral.
Perhaps Aquaman Rebirth #1 works best because it’s Aquaman and expectations are never out of this world for the King of Atlantis. They are never what they are with DC’s Holy Trinity of Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman. When you’re the fourth Beatle, life is not as packed with pressure. Great expectations are never thrust up you – which is the case for Arthur Curry.
Hopefully with Aquaman’s reinvention not only in DC’s Rebirth but also the DC Cinematic Universe, perceptions will change. As noted above, Aquaman’s place in DC’s The New 52 marked his rise out of superhero mediocrity. Being played by Jason Momoa won’t hurt his public perceptions either. And with Aquaman hitting the mainstream in the coming years, the pressure is now on DC and its writers to keep that train rolling within the Aquaman Rebirth storylines.