Aquaman #31 (Comics Review)

Last month Jeff Parker wrapped up an arc that had to do with the reintroduction of Hercules to the DCverse in its New 52 incarnation. He also introduced the Giant-Born of Greek Mythology as villains and in a couple months we are going to see Aquaman team-up with Wonder Woman to take on the Greek monsters. For now however, he is dealing with several other things, things that have been seeded throughout Jeff Parker’s run on Aquaman since issue #26. The ending of last month’s Aquaman #30 was a very interesting cliffhanger, and this time we see how all of that continues.

Aquaman #31 is about Aquaman and Swamp Thing fighting over their jurisdictions. Something is messing around with the oceanic plant life and since Aquaman is the Lord of the Seven Seas, he has come to have a reckoning with Swamp Thing, the Avatar of the Green and all plant-life everywhere. And in the middle of all of that, we have a deepening of the political crisis in Atlantis as Mera investigates who it is that wants to kill her. Jeff Parker’s writing has never read better and the same goes for Paul Pelletier’s artwork.

Aquaman 031The cover by Paul Pelletier, Sean Parsons and Wil Quintana pretty much says it all. I love the fact that there is a crossover between two of my favourite DC characters (thanks to J. M. DeMatteis for bringing Swamp Thing to notice through his Justice League Dark run) and these three artists capture both the heroes pretty well in this cover art. Of course, this isn’t all to the big fight between these two heroes, but it gives a nice “moment” in the fight and I love it.

The issue starts off on a rather hilarious note as we follow a crytozoologist and his cameraman in Terrebone Parish, Louisiana as they hunt for the rumoured Swamp Ape. They do end up finding Swamp Thing and the meeting doesn’t go well, but then Aquaman shows up and everything changes in a flash. A while back there was this big algae bloom in the oceans that destroyed a lot of plant life but since Aquaman was occupied in other matters, he wasn’t able to investigate the how and they why. There’s a bit of narrative missing here in that we don’t see that investigation and Jeff Parker just launches into the conclusion, but still, this was pretty damn good fun.

Jeff Parker utilizes the unique abilities of both heroes to deliver on a really awesome fight, one that is hell of a lot more interesting than it appears to be. Jeff Parker shows how the egos of both heroes lead them to this fight and how stubborn those egos make them. One thing is for sure after reading this issue, and what I’ve read in recent months in DeMatteis’ Justice League Dark, I definitley need to start reading the Swamp Thing series, and pronto. Jeff Parker nails the character’s voice and he plays him off beautifully against Aquaman while also hinting at the larger mythology for Swamp Thing, which was rather cool I must admit.

On the other hand, we have Mera and her sister-in-law Tula investigating who wants Mera dead and who really initiated the kill-order on her in last month’s Aquaman #30. I think I have a pretty damn good who and why, but I am really interested to see the confirmation or denial, whatever it happens to be. Under first Geoff Johns and now Jeff Parker, Mera is emerging as one of my my favourite DC heroes, and I wouldn’t mind if she got an ongoing of her own or something. That would rock!

Pencillers Paul Pelletier and Alvaro Martinez are back with inkers Sean Parsons and Raul Fernandez for this issue, along with colourist Rain Beredo and letterer Travis Lanham. There are a few panels where the art feels a little less polished than it should be, and there is a panel or two where Mera’s expressions are rather odd, but over and above that, the art was fantastic. There is much better synergy between the pencillers and inkers this time, so that was also a big plus, and Rain Beredo has been turning out some high-quality work recently so no complaints there.

There’s still more to go to this whole thing and I’m off half a mind to just go and read Charles Soule’s relevant issues of Swamp Thing, so that’s a huge plus there I think. Plus it seems like things are really beginning to heat-up at Triton Base and that Coombs is gonna be back very soon.

Rating: 9/10

More Aquaman: #0-12, #13-15, #16-21, #22-23, #23.1, #23.2, Annual #1, #25, #26, #27, #28, #29, #30.

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