After reading Aquaman #42 it is safe to say you must read this issue before reading Justice League #12. It not only adds depth to Aquaman’s struggle but gives insight into how this whole “Drowned Earth” war may be won.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
A “DROWNED EARTH” tie-in story! As Aquaman and Wonder Woman race home from the Graveyard of Gods to turn the tide against the Ocean Lords, Arthur learns a stunning secret about his past! Armed with the knowledge that the Justice League may be fighting the wrong enemy, Aquaman must confront the ocean lords and learn the truth before the cosmic flood resets all life on Earth!
Why does this matter?
This issue picks up where Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth Special #1 left off with Aquaman and Wonder Woman asking Poseidon for help.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This is an issue about fathers and sons. Aquaman lost his father, but he returns here to teach him a valuable lesson. One wonders if writer Dan Abnett has lost his own father as the message rings genuine and true. The story literally takes Aquaman to a place where he’s just a child sailing a boat with his dad and in it, he learns a lesson. The narrative moved me as Aquaman is seen as a boy talking to his dad, slowly realizing what is going on, and then becoming the hero we all know and love.
Since the story is so surreal–Aquaman basically goes through some kind of fever dream to come out stronger–it’s hard to talk about it, but let’s just say there is action, introspection, and intrigue. Aquaman must face demons like Jedi (or maybe a Sith?) in a cave and comes out a man stronger for it. I can’t overstate how much reading this issue strengthened the meaning of Justice League #12 and I recommend it for those who like psychological dramas.
The art by Lan Medina is sharp and suits the superhero aesthetic. There are trippy elements Medina nails quite well but it’s his facial expressions and character acting that keeps the boat sailing true. There is a mystical element to the story as well–it did all start in the land of the dead gods–that Medina captures well too.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The lesson Aquaman learns is not all that surprising. We’ve seen it countless times in stories (though I won’t spoil it here) and one does wonder if he really needed all the events in this to be reminded. He’s been fighting bad guys for ages now and yet the message behind it all is to fight on? I was hoping for something more revealing about the man in the scale suit.
Is it good?
A good issue that adds weight to the bigger event. Aquaman is going through a major trial and his life has been upturned. This issue captures that well.