Issue #15 of Aquaman is part two of the “Throne of Atlantis” crossover and it’s brought to us by Geoff Johns and new penciller Paul Pelletier. The story takes place in Gotham City, Metropolis and Boston, and showcases our heroes from the Justice League as they battle the Atlanteans and their fearsome king, Ocean Master. Picking right up where Justice League #15 left off, Batman and Aquaman are in Gotham rescuing its citizens from the Atlanteans’ attack. Johns’ dialogue between these two heroes, who may have more in common with each other than they think, is certainly a treat to read and explore.
Following Reis’ spectacular run on Aquaman is a challenge for anyone, but Pelletier seems eager and ready to try. The opening underwater sequences were vivid and action packed, and I like Mera’s costume update, as well as his rendition of Aquaman. The rest of the League is well depicted as we follow Batman working alongside our title hero, Superman and Wonder Woman in action in Metropolis, and a glimpse of Cyborg at the Watchtower.
Aquaman is conflicted throughout this story and rightly so; trying to stop a war from erupting between his family from Atlantis and his friends on the surface is not something one can call easy. Try as he might to calm both sides, Aquaman cannot keep things under control and by the end, tempers flare and war is imminent.
Detective Comics #15
This issue continues the “Death of the Family” storyline featuring the Joker and is being headlined by writer John Layman and artist Jason Fabok. I will say I like the direction they're taking. This issue features Poison Ivy, Clayface and the Penguin, and of course, a cameo by the Joker for good measure. Clayface is under Poison Ivy’s control as she convinces him that they’re married by using a special hallucinogenic on him. Elsewhere, the Penguin is “removed” from the situation when the Joker steps in. But when the Penguin leaves, he is replaced by another who wants to rule his empire. As much as I enjoy the Penguin, I cannot wait to see where Layman is headed with this new character.
Four villains may seem like overkill for a single issue, but Layman balances the characters extremely well with great characterization, lively dialogue and a well-paced story. Fabok, unknown to me before taking over this title, can really tell a story with his stunning art and I enjoyed his take on the Caped Crusader. The back-up story, also by Layman, and crisp art by Andy Clarke, is well-detailed and sheds more light on the Poison Ivy/Clayface relationship.
Although the team handled Joker very well, I truly cannot wait to see what they have in store for our hero after the crossover. It seems to me that Layman is putting Batman’s detective work back into Detective Comics.
Justice League #15
Justice League #15 by Geoff Johns and former Aquaman penciller Ivan Reis is a terrific starting point for the “Throne of Atlantis”
crossover. It’s filled with plenty of action, romance, and intrigue, and I still love the characterization brought out in each hero. Reis’ art is a great compliment to this title and I especially enjoy his renditions of Aquaman and Batman; the former looking so regal and powerful and his dark and shadowy take on the latter.
Superman and Wonder Woman’s relationship continues to flourish in this issue as Superman takes Diana out on a date and shows her how it is possible to lead more than one life in the public eye. But the date is cut short as turmoil erupts and they must save a city in peril. The big action sequence happens here and Reis doesn’t fail to wow with his spectacular art. However, it’s in the tender moments between Clark and Diana that I think his art doesn’t live up to its full potential. Diana came off to me as expressionless and uninterested compared to what Johns’ was trying to convey with her dialogue.
Cyborg’s inner turmoil dealing with his humanity and troubled relationship with his father is also on display in this issue and a strongpoint of Johns. Admittedly, Cyborg is my least favorite of the League, but Johns never fails to make me feel connected with the character. The invasion of the Atlanteans looms over the League, and they certainly seem like a force to be reckoned with under Ocean Master’s command and we have front row seats to the ensuing battle. The team continues to battle evil as they themselves struggle to become a team as well.
Writer Kyle Higgins and artist Eddy Barrows finally return to Nightwing #15, a “Death of the Family” tie-in, and they do so with a vengeance. Higgins’ interpretation of the Joker is creepy and calculating and Barrow’s art is dark and disturbing...you can feel the evil emanating in the shadows. When reading Joker’s dialogue, all that resonated in my mind was Mark Hamill’s classic laugh as the familiar green smoke billowed from the alleyway.
This could have been just your basic cross-over issue, but it was so much more. Fear for Grayson consumed me as the Joker came for his friends at Amusement Mile because we’ve come to know them as his family for the past year. The devastation that crushes the circus family left me speechless. The growing tension between Dick and Sonia’s relationship builds, but doesn’t seem rushed; Higgins makes it flow perfectly within the story, keeping me interested in where it will lead.
It’s difficult to review this issue without giving away too many spoilers, but I’ll leave you with this: people die. And these are people close to Grayson. The Joker did not just make a simple cameo in Nightwing like he has in some other titles. He came and left his gruesome trademark smile, certainly leaving an unforgettable impact on this title.