While Aquaman and Atlantis reach out to the surface world, it doesn't go quite as it seems as Black Manta has a few tricks up his sleeve in order to get revenge on the King of Atlantis, who allegedly killed his father.
For a first issue, we sure do get one fantastic fight scene, that helps set up the first arc for the book. The age-old rivalry of Black Manta versus Aquaman is refueled here, and this is just the beginning. I really like the fact that Dan Abnett and Brad Walker lay out this dynamic between characters right off the bat. Manta and Aquaman's hatred towards each other is decades old and always makes for an interesting story.
One of the things that hurts and helps the issue, depending on if the reader is new to Aquaman or not, is how this issue pushes forward the lore of Atlantis while building a contemporary story about Atlantis trying to make themselves a part of the surface world. It's an intriguing story, and it's great world building. It makes the world of Aquaman feel larger.
Penciller Brad Walker, inker Andrew Hennessey, and colorist Gabe Eltaeb deliver a visually entertaining book as well. There were a few moments were "camera placement" was a little odd, like when we could see right up Aquaman's nose, but overall, this artistic team is doing some impressive things. The action sequences are full of movement and really engross the reader, and Eltaeb's colors are dynamic. This is one impressive looking book.
There are a few problems within the first issue. It comes off more about Atlantis and the undersea city trying to befriend the surface world. This is their first attempt to unite the worlds, and obviously, it doesn't go well. The issue isn't as much about Aquaman. He's the back-piece to what's happening. New readers may be a bit turned off by this, while longtime readers will find what's going on a bit more refreshing. It's a double-edged sword. If this were the start of a new arc, at least after the first story, this wouldn't be a problem at all. In addition, it's a bit of a slow start for the issue. About halfway through, it really picks up pace, but the opening could be a bit of a turn-off for some.
This first issue may not be the best jumping-on point for new readers because the focus is more geared towards Atlantis rather than exploring just who Aquaman is, but it's still a great read. Aquaman fans will find themselves enjoying this book, as it plays better to people who have a prior background knowledge of the character and his world. It's a solid issue, and I recommend picking it up.