Writer(s): Dan Abnett.
Illustrator(s): Stjepan Šejić.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Format: Hardcover – Deluxe Edition.
Release Date: November 20th 2018 (first published January 30th 2018).
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.
As the main writer of the current Aquaman Rebirth series, Dan Abnett, alongside comic book artist and writer Stjepan Šejić, blows everyone out of the water in Aquaman: Underworld. Known for several of his work with DC Comics and Marvel, Dan Abnett also garners great fame for his novels within the Warhammer franchise, and truly showcases his storytelling gift in Aquaman: Underworld. By drawing upon some of Aquaman’s greatest elements from his mythology, he not only comes up with one of the most compelling stories simmering with potential, but also gives readers a reason to love the character and his beloved city of Atlantis. Collecting issues #25 to 30, this story arc is a grandiose achievement for the medium and presents fans with what would undoubtedly be an unforgettable underwater adventure.
What is Aquaman: Underworld about, you wonder? The story explores the reign of King Rath in Atlantis while the Old King is presumed dead. As rumours arise from the dark corners of the sea of a potential impostor of the Old King, the climate within the kingdom is boiling with rage and impatience. Decreeing the conjuration of an Atlantean techno-magic force field to protect the city from outside threat, an outright segregation within Atlantean civilization is noticed. However, rumours of the ex-king Arthur’s survival reaches the surface and brings a mourning and exiled Mera, wife of the Old King, to do anything to reunite with her lost love. As the story develops, an impending uprising is slowly teased, but most importantly a reflection on the qualities needed to be a king is brilliantly explored. The story also ventures into a closer look at marginalized communities and the underlying issues of corruption and prejudice that rules within the city.
Dan Abnett hits all the right notes in Aquaman: Underworld. There are a lot of recurring characters from the hero’s lore integrated within this story arc, but never are they thrown in without context and complex characterization. With an excellent recapitulation of past events seamlessly interwoven into the narrative, the story flows with perfect rhythm and easily draws you into the world. While it may be the fourth volume of the series, it reads perfectly like a stand-alone story, although it does not regroup the entire story arc. An ending that however sends chills down your spine is present but will inevitably build desperation among fans for the rest of the story arc. Nonetheless, the story still contains enough information to be considered self-contained and tackles ideas of heroism and marginalization as it reflects on the current alliances and threats within the Atlantic kingdom. The introduction of a mysteriously silent ally is a gift to fans as well as this character was born with charm and embodies intrigue like no other character before.
Personally beyond astonished, the artwork shines upon the depths of these Atlantean waters an unprecedented amount of light that not only brings to life the obscure creatures of the sea, but also the unique politics of an underwater civilization. What Stjepan Šejić accomplishes in Aquaman: Underworld is a statement of his phenomenal talent as his visionary take of this aquatic universe is beyond reproach, especially when you bring a magnifying glass onto the meticulous details that he focuses on. From the attention he gives to facial expressions to the beautiful underwater movements he brings to the universe, there is no denying that he injects a rejuvenating boost to the franchise since Geoff John’s revolutionary New 52 run with the character. It is also necessary to mention the incredible aura that surrounds some of these characters in their design alone. From Arthur Curry to Mera, there is so much to praise in his work.
Aquaman: Underworld is a spectacularly stunning tale on the roles of kings and heroes through a war for the rightful heir to the throne.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!
The final trailer for Aquaman is out! Mark your calendars! Arthur Curry visits theaters on December 21st!
P.S. The movie will not be necessarily based on this story arc in particular.