Edit: The arc really picks up into something special by issue 4 'Semper Fidelis', but here is my view of the first issue initially, with a rant about the next two issues in a subsequent post.
I've just received the first trade paperback for Aquaman containing issues 1-6 by Dan Abnett. I have just finished reading the first issue (the first proper #1, not the Rebirth one-shot) and I write to you with great apprehension for the future. I will update after reading the rest. I hope things get better.
What on earth is up with Abnett's first issue? It's Cullen Bunn level bad. Here is why:
1. Aquaman sounds more like Queen Amidala with the political nonsense. 80% of the issue is about how obsessed he is with connecting Atlantis with the dry world. Why? I received a massive Phantom Menace hangover when reading it with its embassies and political negotiations. I had hoped that writers of fiction had learnt to avoid the boredom of this type of thing. Aquaman has one of the most interesting worlds of any superhero - all the oceans- and one of the best narrative contexts - Greek mythology - yet like the Phantom Menace moved away from all that was fun about Star Wars, that's what we're getting here too - in issue 1!
2. Aquaman invites media and political figures for some kind of grand opening of the new Atlantean embassy Spindrift Station. He introduces himself to everyone, then before the media can ask questions he says, "But first, are you hungry" and takes them into the snack area. I can't believe what I'm reading. Three pages of Aquaman eating chowder in the Rebirth one-shot, now a page of characters wondering what the sushi crap actually is. Nice start Abnett. Hopefully in issue two you can elaborate on Aquaman's trip to the supermarket.
3. There is a reference to JJ Abrams. Why?? Is he a buddy of Abnett's? I hate this pop culture referencing in comics. "Add a little lens flare, we could be in a JJ Abrams movie, right?" Wrong Abnett. Wrong. This is the main piece of character dialogue that explains their impression of the immensity and augustness of the embassy. You could have said anything amazing to capture the essence of the place, but instead we get this.
4. Black Manta is disguised as a noisy American type from the Daily Planet. This foolishness is beyond any criticism. Sure he was using some kind of masking technology, but this is a very dodgy disguise. When he pretends to be sick from eating a sea slug sushi he asks for the restrooms and goes off presumably to throw up. And Mera... wait for this... Mera sends one of the King's Personal Guard to go and see if he's ok because "We don't want a bad Trip Advisor for our food"!! Stab me right now with the trident.
4a. Mera makes the Trip Advisor gag straight after revealing that she doesn't understand what a pun is, and in the one-shot she had never heard of chowder. So she goes from an understandably naive Atlantean who doesn't get puns and chowder, to someone cracking Trip Advisor jokes. So which is it? Is she hip or not??
5. There's a lot of PIS going on here. First of all, Black Manta sneaks several large bombs into the new Atlantean embassy Spindrift Station. A previous panel shows us the road block getting cars in, presumably to the embassy car park (great panel that - not), then a further 'checkpoint' that looks more like a nightclub doorlist where people are having their names checked off a list or something. What sort of embassy is this?? Considering it's probably the most important one in history this laughable security situation is laughable. And guess what, Black Manta blows it up. On day one. In hour one!
6. I've saved this one up for last. Lieutenant Joanna Stubbs. Apparently this book's Harper Row, she is the official representative from the United Kingdom's Royal Navy and is to take up a position as, "British Navy Liaison". This goes down as the worst diplomatic appointment of all time. She is 24 years old and says "Crikey" every other panel, as well as things like, "This is... it's a very big deal", "I'm sure this is all very normal to you" (to Captain Sark who lives underwater!!), and "I'm scared stiff..." Holy hell, why did they send this rookie. Crikey.
So yeah, this is not a great start. All we need now is a Jar Jar Binks character flopping around in issue 2 and the comparison is complete.