Comic Book Review: Aquaman #40
I felt like I owed it myself to make sure that I saw this story arc to the end. I wasn’t there for the beginning of “Sink Atlantis”, but never once was I disappointed by the quality of work that went into this monumental development for the nation. We genuinely got the best of both worlds from the Atlantis heroes and the Suicide Squad. Nothing was straightforward about this mission, or the race to stop the whole nation from being nuked to dust.
With Dolphin as the last line of defense against Satannis, I hate to say that I was bracing for the worst here. I don’t know the character very well, and certainly not enough to understand what she is capable of on her own. I was pleasantly caught off guard by what quickly ensued. This creative team brought her back from the back of the library of heroes, and they never once let readers forget how awesome she could be. That is even despite the fact that she can’t talk underwater. Now everything after that was where this because an anything goes kind of situation. The different obstacles they had to face kept you at the edge of your seat. It made a big difference that this was all a race against time too. Pacing and momentum carried this last stretch of the battle to save Atlantis and they did not let up one bit. Everything mattered up to the very person who saved the day.
Well maybe they let up a little bit, but I loved the reason why this had to happen. For this story arc, a lot of time has gone into Harley and Deadshot getting the chance to play heroes again. That may be in their nature, but that didn’t exclude Killer Croc from having the same heart. There was something to address about his current mindset, and there was no better time for the big guy. I appreciate the genuine emotion that went into explaining his current actions, and where he stood with the rest of the Suicide Squad.
When the fighting came to a close, you could pretty much say that everything else to follow were things you would have predicted. As in what happened to the Suicide Squad after the dust settled, who had to take the blame for this attack, and how the situation overall was diffused before it could escalate into war.
There’s one part about the way this story arc ended which filled my heart with so much joy about the underlying truth to this whole situation. Waller is the baddest **** around as far as humans in government power are concerned, but here she was at the very end showing that even she still has a line she does not cross. From every conversation she had with Meddinghouse, you knew that she was not happy about the decisions she had to make, the lack of choice. Give that little wiggle room to explain herself and the respect she can have for people like Mera was refreshing. Even Mera’s response to her actions was surprising. That these two could find common grounds for the lengths they would go to protect their own is not something you will overlook. Not many people will want to share the same space with Waller under different circumstances.
The art team of Joe Bennett, Vicente Cifuentes, and Adriano Lucas raised the bar with the energy they brought out of this climax. Bennett in particular proved to be a fitting choice for penciler. This guy leaves no stone unturned in the way he approaches rendering the world of Atlantis. The organic structures, building structures, treasures, even the flow of water, he details everything going on here and that is the best way to engage the reader’s eyes. The action ran smooth, the characters moved fluently, all of which only added to that engagement as well. I felt like the hype between King Shark and Killer Croc was best saved for this specific issue. That was where I felt the intensity and ferocity between them. It was cool how Bennett also showed how these two can claw chunks out of each other holding nothing back. That aside, what had a big impact on the interior artwork was the panel layout. The different shapes, overlapping, wide spreads. All of it created excellent perspective that made key moments pop. I was happy to see that Adriano Lucas was the colorist for both Aquaman and Suicide Squad. As I said about the Suicide Squad side to this arc, Lucas goes above and beyond bringing out the elegance of this underwater world as well. His bold and vibrant colors breathed life into every action.
If you wanted action, heart, and the meaning of sacrifice, Aquaman #40 was the full package. Normally a story like this might be where they pull the plug on Atlantis on the surface, but I think we all walk away happy that this was not the case. At the end of the day this story served as a perfect representation of the human fear of foreign enemies. What do we do when something seems like it surpasses us in power? We unfortunately try to nuke it. There’s your daily dose of reality in comic form.