A brief analysis of Cullen Bunn's Aquaman run: New 52 issues 41 to 48

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#1 Posted by Rainshadow777 (521 posts) - - Show Bio

Firstly, the New 52 run of Aquaman by Geoff Johns is probably my favourite DC run of comics, and I really liked what Jeff Parker did with the book as well when he took it over. So I'm coming at this as a real fan.

I'm reading Volume 7 'Exiled' and am a few issues into Cullen Bunn's run, and I'm really... confused and baffled. I guess I'm not alone, because I just did a quick search to find out how many issues he wrote, and this is it - he finished at 48, so eight issues in total.

I found this article, Cullen Bunn Leaves Aquaman and realised that I'm not alone.

Here are a couple of things I don't like about his work.

1. The characterisation of Aquaman. He tends to speak in a very colloquial, idiomatic, way and I think this cheapens him. He's presented more as a surfer dude rather than a complex and deep character (and king!). So far in my reading he says things like, "Whatever", "Ah hell", "Up ya go", "Like something from a late night horror flick" and "Whatever this is, I'll find a way to stop it... Even if that means ripping this other world apart in the process". None of this sounds like Arthur Curry, especially his bizarre determination to destroy another world so flippantly. Even if he felt that he had to destroy a world to save his own - which he had no way of knowing at the time he said these words - there's no way Arthur would be so callous about it.

2. The narrative structure and dialogue. The constant jumping back and forth between "Then" and "Now" is confusing and distracting. So too is the constant use of ellipsis in the dialogue. It's not needed and it's annoying. I think the concept of the arc is a good one, but the execution is terrible.

3. The continuity from Parker's issue 40 to Bunn's 41 is just beyond disorientating. To suddenly manufacture this antagonism between Arthur and Mera on such a nonsense proposition, that Arthur is risking the safety of Atlantis, is so unlike Mera and so unlikely after all they've been through in the New 52. Obviously there's more to the story of Mera's actions, but there's no time in the book where Arthur dwells on it or tries to figure out what's going on. He blindly accepts that Mera doesn't like him anymore and he's off to destroy another world he knows nothing about.

4. Not Bunn's fault, but the artwork is poor and way below what the book deserves. I don't understand why DC would be ok with this - it's almost as if they are experimenting in the lull before Rebirth. There's an almost impressionist sloppiness to the images and I find myself staring at them for ages trying to decipher what I'm looking at. Contrast this to the fantastic work of Ivan Reis and it's enough to make one weep.

So I'm going to stick with the volume and get it read, but I can understand why there was such fan dissatisfaction.

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#2 Posted by EcstaticGrace (7146 posts) - - Show Bio

Personally I felt the Bunn arc read better or would of read better if it was an elsewhere, or if it was the start of cannon rather than picking up on established canon.

My opinion, agree to a lot of your points. It doesn't really even get consistent in till the very last issue of his run where Arthur and Mera start shaping up better.

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#3 Posted by Rainshadow777 (521 posts) - - Show Bio

Personally I felt the Bunn arc read better or would of read better if it was an elsewhere, or if it was the start of cannon rather than picking up on established canon.

Yeah, both of those things would be better than where it's actually placed. Even then, I don't think I'd enjoy it much though. When you couple Bunn's writing with the oddball art it's almost as if DC deliberately tried something different here, with I guess inevitable consequences.

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#4 Edited by Rainshadow777 (521 posts) - - Show Bio

A couple more observations now that I've finished Bunn's run.

1. The art improves greatly after Trevor McCarthy hands over to Vicente Cifuentes.

2. The people of Thule are ultimately saved, apparently, by the mystic Extriax opening a portal between the shadow world of Thule and our world.

Aquaman and the Justice League were fighting the orcs (they definitely looked like orcs) from Thule. We also learn that Extriax can travel in spirit form and he did some spying in Atlantis. So if Extriax is so good at opening portals to the point where he can open one large enough to bring the Justice League into Thule and the innocent thousands out of Thule, then what was he waiting for during all the years they were trapped in Thule?? Why not just open a portal and bring everyone through it. Sure, the Justice League would still have to do the fighting to stop the sorcerers from moving into the real world, but Extriax didn't need to wait for them to arrive, did he?

Extriax kept going on about how Aquaman was the saviour and liberator, but it was really he who saved them. There were a few Moses allusions there, and that was cool (nice one Bunn), but come on Extriax, get those people out of there - you have the power!

3. The entire concept of Atlantis thinking Aquaman is a traitor on the say-so of Mera, whom many of them were suspicious of anyway as she is not Atlantean, holds no water (pardon the pun). It's like everything that happened since The Trench has been thrown out the window, and quite frankly, if I was king of Atlantis I would be very paranoid about the people serving him if they turn against him so easily.

This is part of the problem of the arc. They all bonded so completely after their victories throughout the New 52 that their sudden lack of loyalty, and bizarre allegiance to Mera, lacked plausibility. To see The Drift hunting him down and trying to fight/arrest him was crazy. They were all thick as thieves after their amazing experiences together.

Anyway, I could go on but I think most people covered all this when the issues first came out and I think I've made my point.

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