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Aquaman #22 - Death of a King, Chapter Four

4

Aquaman faces off against the Dead King while Scavenger invades Atlantis!

The Good

Well, there's a ton of stuff going on in this issue. Scavenger is invading Atlantis. Aquaman fights the Dead King. Mera rescues some people. Murk, Tula, and Swatt go on a mission to release Orm from jail.

Scavenger's siege of Atlantis is incredibly epic. THIS is the battle I want to see. I'd be much happier if the issue focused more on this, actually. Who thought a bunch of air breathers could take on this hidden city and all of its inhabitants? The best looking page in the issue, drawn by Paul Pelletier (pencils), Sean Parsons (inks), and Rod Reis (colors) the the first moments of attack on Atlantis. It's an amazing two-page spread that sets a great tone for the rest of that story.

I found myself loving Warden Urn, who we've seen a couple times in previous issues, as he defends Atlantean Law and the life of Vulko. Warden Urn is quickly becoming one of my favorite secondary characters in this book. He is incredibly loyal to the kingdom he serves. He isn't engaged in the power struggle that's going on around him. He's there to protect the city he serves and its law. He's an incredibly stoic character, and a brilliant new edition to DC and the Aquaman universe.

How strong is Aquaman? Well, he's ridiculously strong, and we get to see that in one spectacular two-page spread, about halfway through the book. It's hard to know what Aquaman's power limit is, since he's never really been tested. However, this page shows the reader that he's someone you really don't wanna mess with.

I've come around on the Dead King. I wasn't too keen on him to begin with, but I love all the mystery behind the character. The ice powers felt a little gimmicky, but I love the power struggle and seeing this immortal king trying to reclaim his throne. Everything is falling apart for Aquaman and Mera. Nothing is going right. That's what I really enjoy about this issue and storyline. How will they overcome ALL these problems?

The Bad

Believe it or not, I'm actually a bit down the middle on how I feel about this issue. Don't get me wrong, it's great, but I felt the story of Aquaman fighting the Dead King was completely over-shadowed by Scavenger's war on Atlantis. The whole back and forth Aquaman battle feels like such a tease for the history of Atlantis and why it sank. This is a question I've wanted answered since the reveal page of issue 4 and I feel like it will never be answered.

I miss Topo.

The Verdict

It's a very satisfying issue. This will be a story that I think will read a lot better in trade. I find myself become impatient for future issues. I want to know more about why Atlantis sank, and I feel like it's taking us forever to get there. We keep getting teased, with no new answers, but that's my only real complaint. Well, that and the Scavenger story overshadows everything else. Each of the stories, mainly the Scavenger and the Aquaman story, since the Orm story is very brief, are incredibly fascinating, and it proves that Aquaman and the world he lives in can be interesting. He's not a second rate character and Johns has proven that.

Overall, I highly recommend this issue.