Review: Aquaman 20
John Ostrander, Manuel Garcia
Spoiler alert! You have been warned!
Do not be deceived by the cover credits of this issue. Regular Aquaman scribe Geoff Johns and artist Paul Pelletier have nothing to do with this issue. At all. But that’s okay, because we get a little bit of a blast from the past. At least, for those of us who remember the Pre-New 52 DC Universe, that is. That’s right. The legendary John Ostrander pens this filler issue. And I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t good to have him back in the DCU.
The issue is a relatively simple one in terms of plot, but that’s okay with me. After all, it is, as the title says, an interlude. We are given a brief entirely on-land story while we catch our breath from the current Death of a King storyline. This issue features a tale of the Others. You know, that team that Aquaman belonged to before he joined the Justice League? Manuel Garcia’s art is top-notch (especially for a fill-in issue) and he shows great depth in his portrayal of all of these relatively unknown characters. Essentially, this entire issue is a spotlight on characters that are building the Aquaman mythos to an epic scale that is beginning to rival that which Geoff Johns created for Green Lantern, yet another character that a lot of people didn’t really care too much about until he took over. On a slightly tangential side note, I’m assuming that with Johns’ finale that was nine years in the making over in the GL title that came out this week as well, we really can’t blame him for taking an issue off. And boy did he leave it in capable hands. So the story involves Aquaman going to his old teammates and asking them to recover some of the stuff in the driest and hottest parts of Arizona before his new adversary the Scavenger can do so. They agree. And then Aquaman’s gone. Literally. For the rest of the issue.
Now, some readers and fans of Arthur might not like that. But I personally have come to find it not only endearing that Aquaman usually takes a backseat in his own book, but also realistic. I mean, come on. He’s the King of Atlantis. He’s got stuff to do. So we get a cool fight sequence with a bunch of characters who are slowly growing, a brief but necessary recap of events for readers who might be picking up the issue solely to see if Ostrander’s still got it, and a pretty much entirely self-contained story that fits into (and bridges) a bigger arc. What more can you ask for in a filler issue? No complaints on this end. Overall, this was a solid issue that makes me anxious for the return of Johns and begs the question of why Ostrander hasn’t been given his own ongoing title yet.