For me, one of the best things about Aquaman is his nature and his heritage. In his initial run on the title in the New 52, that is one of the things that Geoff Johns focused on to great success, and it is what his successor Jeff Parker has done as well. Both of them have done much to expand on Arthur’s Atlantean heritage and make him into a fully-fledged hero with a great supporting cast and some really mythology. The fact that Geoff and Jeff’s runs have synched up so well is a testament to their writing skills I’d say, and the experience has certainly been great..
Late last month we got Jeff’s Aquaman Annual #2 which was an interlude between Aquaman #33 and #34. It was a great story as you can read in my review, but the story arc of shark-bitten underwater diver Jeffrey Coombs becoming Chimera was what I really wanted to read about. This was a story that Jeff was building up to since he started this run and we finally get to see Chimera meet up with Aquaman and have some of the best fights in comics in recent history, as far as I am concerned. Jeff excels yet again with this arc, which isn’t over yet, and so do pencillers Paul Pelletier and Carlos Rodriguez.
In Aquaman #32, Jeff finally kicked off Chimera’s arc in a great way as the monstrous human-fish hybrid broke out of Triton Base, though not without causing some severe damage, and then went on to attack Arthur. When Aquaman #33 we see how the first clash between the King of Atlantis and this monster resolves, and then what all the hero learns about this new enemy, an enemy cooked up by humans who are mistrustful of Aquaman/Atlantis and are actively working against him. That Dr. Shin once again finds himself in an odd position is no surprise and I confess that I am always amused how Shin always manages to end up in the worst sort of situations that alienate him from Arthur.
In both these issues, i.e. #33 and #34, the story of Chimera wanting to destroy his saviour and his destroyer is a deeply compelling one. Many issues back, we saw how Coombs was savaged by a shark while he was doing some outer repairs on Triton Base and how he was saved by Aquaman. But then one mad scientist at the base got a hold of him and turned him into what he is now. His story is as tragic as it can be, and now he is struggling under the weight of a confused multiple identity, for all the different the fish DNA that are a part of him are in conflict with his human self.
In the midst of all this, we do get to see more of the fallout from the assassination attempt on Mera, wherein she was saved by Arthur’s half-sister Tula, sister to the deposed King Orm. I liked the spin on the story as it developed in Aquaman #33 and I was looking forward to seeing more of it in Aquaman #34 but that didn’t happen unfortunately because the new issue was all about Chimera fighting Aquaman, both underwater and on land.
That the entire arc thus far is one of high-octane action is undeniable. Jeff hasn’t shied away from the big action sequences at all in his run. Indeed, he began his run last year with one such major sequence that has now culminated in this new arc, and I liked how Jeff linked back his first issues with his new one. Very nicely done, well-executed in every single way that matters.
In Aquaman #33 we have Paul Pelletier as penciller, Sean Parsons as inker, Rain Beredo as colourist and Dezi Sienty as letterer while in Aquaman #34 we have Carloz Rodriguez as guest penciller, BIT as guest inker and Rain and Dezi retained in their regular roles. Though the difference in pencillers and inkers is a significant one, the art style has little changes between the two and the art is therefore very consistent. In both issues, my favourite moments are definitely ones when Chimera uses his powers to change his form from one humanoid-fish to another, or even when he reverts back to a wholly-human appearance. And even in his regular form, he is damn impressive, and all the artists, no matter which issue we talk about, really impart a lot of kinetic energy and sense of danger to the action.