By Heidi Simmons
by Geoff Johns – Trade Paperback
Being an outsider is difficult. When you are misunderstood, unappreciated and considered irrelevant, it’s hard to be a good citizen and make a difference in the community without feeling judged. Written by Geoff Johns with art by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado, Aquaman: Volume 1, The Trench (DC Comics, 144 pages), is about a superhero torn between two unwelcoming worlds.
Aquaman is Arthur Curry, the son of a lighthouse keeper and an Atlantean Princess. He has superpowers that allow him to breath underwater and effortlessly swim to great depths. He also has super-human strength and telepathic abilities with sea creatures, yet looks and acts like a regular guy.
“The New 52!” Aquaman begins at the bottom of the ocean, but it’s not Aquaman in the deepest trench, it’s alien creatures in search of food. The skeletal-finned-beasts, with large eyes and long needle teeth have heard rumors of a surface world and are headed there for something to eat!
Meanwhile, Aquaman, in his fantastic, green and gold bullet-proof bodysuit and carrying a double trident, fights crime in the city, where, even after catching the bad guys, he is ridiculed, chastised and teased by police and citizens alike.
But when something weird happens on a boat and hundreds of alien creatures emerge from the sea to feast on humans, Aquaman and his beautiful new bride Mera, show up to save the day.
Mera is the stunning redhead counterpart to Aquaman and has her own set of “hydro-kinetic” — water related — super powers. Together, the two, head to the deepest trench to find the source of the hungry aliens in hopes to save the people taken from the surface.
Mera is new to the surface world and does not appreciate the way the landlubbers treat Athur who is Atlantean royalty – a king if he wanted to assume his birthright.
After Aquaman and Mera safely retrieve the villagers from the trench, they are finally acknowledged as superheroes. But are they dangerous? Aquaman further investigates the strange creatures and finds himself in a vast desert after pursuing a strange militarized force that stole an Atlantean glyph.
While stranded, Aquaman hallucinates and struggles, not only to survive the waterless environ, but with his role, lineage and purpose.
Left alone on land without her husband, Mera struggles to fit into her new community. Out and about to do some shopping in her badass green bodysuit and gold tiara, she is sexually harassed. Baffled by the man’s lack of respect and groping, Mera breaks his arm. She is arrested – that is until she stops a crime and escapes.
One of the strongest female DC characters, Mera is a warrior but is not an Atlantean. Also, her relationship with Arthur may not be what it seems.
“The New 52!” was DC comic’s 2011 re-launch of their mainstream comic book continuity. Aquaman, Volume 1, The Trench collects the first six issues of John’s take on the Arthur Curry character. The beauty of the “New 52” imprint is that the series begins fresh and it’s perfect to dig-in and start enjoying the rich comic book worlds without having any previous knowledge.
The action is spectacular! The artwork by Reis and Prado is bold, colorful and brilliant — totally worth the cost of the book alone. And writer Johns, does a wonderful job introducing Aquaman as superhero and regular dude with relatable doubts and conflicts.
As the action unfolds, Johns addresses the lack of respect Aquaman receives both in the comic book world, and in the world of comic book fans. In this issue he breathes new life into both Aquaman and his wife Mera making them flawed, dangerous, emotionally complicated, and worthy of superhero respect.
Batman protects the city of Gotham, whereas Aquaman protects the ocean – 70 percent of the planet’s surface. That’s a lot of territory to cover!
The trade paperback is a great way to indulge in a series. It’s like binge-watching your favorite TV show. However, when each comic book is released, there are flash-forwards and backs, which serve as cliffhangers for subsequent issues. In the back-to-back compilation, I wish it could be edited in a more linear way for easier consumption.
But, even with the jumps in time, there is something that happens as you engage with comics. There is a dynamic and dimensional existence that emerges with great satisfaction. It can be read over and over, and there is often more to discover. The artwork alone can take you away.
Geoff Johns is now an executive at Warner Bros. in charge of bringing DC superheroes to the big screen. “Aquaman” will be in theaters this December. If Aquaman, Volume 1, The Trench is included in the movie adaptation, it will be very exciting.