This is the second last issue of something I’ve reviewed this week, so the thematic prospects of a double review did cross my mind but it was ultimately decided that would not be a wise idea because while the other one was the end of an event but still ultimately part of a larger scheme, this was the end of a creator’s run on the title, so the two have to be looked at in entirely different ways. Aquaman #25 is the last issue of Geoff Johns’ run on the title, and it both succeeds and fails as an ending.
Having been heavily invested in the series since its inception, Aquaman #25 is like the end of an era. There’s a huge battle, heavy character moments, and teasing of a future storyline that if the last major Justice League story involving Atlanteans is any indication, should be action-packed, exciting, and fun. This is where it succeeds on all accounts. It sets up a mystery, leaves a few things open ended, and has strong character beats and a skillfully drawn fight scene that blows most fight scenes out of the water. Even the aqua-dog from the beginning of the run comes back (briefly of course, and it gets a name). Yet it fails in that it doesn’t seem resolute. Of course Aquaman is going to continue under the pen of Jeff Parker so it’s completely understandable, but normally a Johns-story will end on resolutions for both the emotional arcs of characters and on the plot (see Green Lantern #20 for what I’m talking about). Yet here we only get mini-resolutions to the problems at hand. Sure, the Dead King Atlan is defeated but we get very little in terms of the evolution of Aquaman now knowing his heritage or Mera finally being able to accept standing by Aquaman’s side.
Still, for all the bashing I’ve done so far, this is a really good issue. Pelletier draws the best underwater imagery this side of Ivan Reis and Sean Murphy, and just makes everything look really good. One particularly powerful piece of scenery is when Aquaman bursts out of a thing of lava, and the lava blends with the water to create a sort of contrasting elemental mixture that just looks really good on the page. Pelletier also can draw scenes on land just as well, and really highlights the differences in environmental features.
I found a lot of things satisfying on the story end as well. The aforementioned aqua-dog comeback, Arthur leading the Trench against the Xebel invaders, Mera lashing out at her former husband, and the ending scene involving Ocean Master getting some really great character moments. Johns really knows how to make characters feel like they have depth and he gives the series some real emotional gravitas.
It’s been a fun ride but understandably Johns had to go to work on other things. Still, the wealth of material he left Parker and the fact that he will be truly ending his story in next year’s Rise of the Seven Seas arc in Justice League (consider me extremely hyped for that one), makes it feel like it really isn’t over, even when it is. I will continue to read Aquaman under Parker, but what Johns did with the title and the character of Aquaman in general will always be timeless.