AQUAMAN / JUSTICE LEAGUE: THRONE OF ATLANTIS | ‘New to Comics’ REVIEW

New to Comics is a segment where I look at various comic books; explaining, reviewing, and breaking them down for readers unfamiliar to the medium. 

I originally meant to write about this comic around the release of Aquaman, but alas, something got in the way. Nevermind though! We’ve got round to it eventually, albeit nearly two years later.

Published by: DC Comics
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Ivan Reis & Paul Pelletier
Year: 2013
Pages: 176
Collects: Aquaman #0, 14-17 & Justice League #15-17


WHAT’S THE STORY?

The third volume in Geoff Johns’ Justice League run, Throne of Atlantis sees Johns’ Justice League comic cross over with another comic he was writing at the time: Aquaman

The story is a pretty monumental moment in the life of the revamped, younger Aquaman, and entrenches him further into the Justice League, as in many ways, this could be read as his new origin story (ignoring the fact that he’s already been operating alongside the Justice League). The most recent edition of this comic even presents it as the jumping on point for fans of the film. 

Re-released in 2018, as you can see the new cover depicts Jason Momoa as Aquaman, although the contents are not based on the movies, and remain the same story published in 2012 and 2013. However, a lot of the content does serve as a basis for the highly successful film, with a lot of the story-beats such as Aquaman fighting his brother Ocean Master and the Trench making the jump from page to screen. 

The main difference here though is that the Justice League get involved in the comic’s take on the events.

The comic was also adapted into an animated movie, which did feature the Justice League. 


FEATURED CHARACTERS:

AQUAMAN

Real Name: Orin
Affiliation: The Justice League
First Appearance: More Fun Comics #73 (November 1941)

As the son of Lighthousekeeper Tom Curry and Atlanna, the former Queen of Atlantis, Orin was the son of two worlds. Named ‘Arthur Curry’ by his father, the young man soon discovered his secret heritage brought with it a host of abilities; such as being able to breathe underwater, demonstrate incredible strength and even communicate with fish. Mentored in the use of his powers by another Atlantean outcast named Vulko, Arthur grew to be a powerful young man and was eventually able to return to his destined home of Atlantis and confront Atlanna’s other son, and his half-brother, Orm, in a challenge for the throne. As King of Atlantis, Arthur hopes to one day unite the underwater kingdoms and the surface world, even if it means occasionally leaving his post as ruler.


WHAT’S THE PLOT?

When a mysterious Atlantean artefact goes missing, and a human warship launches an accidental attack on the hidden kingdom of Atlantis, it’s king, Orm the Ocean Master, declares war on the surface world. 

As Atlanteans prepare to flood the Eastern Coast of the USA and send in their army, the Justice League must work to stop this surprise threat, while Aquaman grapples with his responsibilities as the rightful king of Atlantis and the distrust of both the Justice League and humanity as a whole.

WHAT’S THE VERDICT?

Honestly, this is by far the best story of Johns’ Justice League run so far. It helps that it’s intertwined with the ongoing series of a hero he’s clearly passionate about, but just on the whole, it’s heaps and bounds ahead of The Villain’s Journey, in particular. 

For one, it’s super-accessible to people who want to get into Aquaman comics.

The prologue is taken from Aquaman #0 and basically gives you a succinct Aquaman origin that lays the groundwork for Aquaman’s personal struggles. 

Because of the crossover with Justice League, there’s also the perfect balance of Justice League action alongside this deep dive into the world of Aquaman, as the comic assesses both him as a character and him as a League member. 

The way this comic presents Aquaman does well to silence any naysayers, who may think that Aquaman is just a loser who just talks to fish (although with the casting of Jason Momoa as the character that critique has mostly fallen by the wayside anyway). He’s powerful, capable and noble, with struggles and his own subsection of the universe that makes him just as interesting as many of his peers. 

I’m a big fan of the Aquaman movie, and although I’ve not read a heap of Aquaman comic books (barely any, if I’m being honest) this comic makes being a big Aquaman fan seem like a very real and justifiable possibility. It elicits the same emotional connection to the character I got from the film, despite the fact this is largely a very different take on the hero. 

With Ivan Reis working on the art for Justice League and Paul Pelletier doing the Aquaman side of things, this comic also has the benefit of having fairly consistent art by two very talented creators. I’ve raved about Pelletier’s art before; it’s bold and dynamic and meshes well with Reis’, who shares those qualities. 

In the end, I have very few problems with this volume; the only thing that springs to mind is more a criticism of this Justice League run as a whole. As I mentioned last post, the five-year time jump between Origin and The Villain’s Journey does this run a disservice. Because while the writing here is pretty strong, it’s still written as if the Justice League are still in their formative years. 

I understand that at the time the DC Universe as a whole all took place five years from the first appearance of superheroes, but I honestly believe that if Justice League explored the heroes adventures leading up to the then modern-day, everything would flow a lot smoother. The characters sometimes still talk as if they don’t know each other that well, or haven’t been operating together for five years, but that’s more an issue with DC’s New 52 as a whole than it is with this particular storyline. 

Were you to read this in a vacuum, then that issue wouldn’t be apparent, and thus that makes this an excellent starting point for your Aquaman adventures. 

RATING:

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