Sunday, September 11, 2011

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #52 (July, 2007)

Swimming through the city "streets," Arthur Joseph and Topo began mocking Black Manta, who they knew from the cartoon show and internet. Cal Durham and Garth both jumped on the youths, explaining what a lethal threat the Manta is. Guided by a light, the group found Orin's former lieutenant, the mutated police officer Alonzo Malrey. The Chief was sealed in a tank with only enough water to keep his head wet for breathing, the lights contributing to his dehydration. Malrey tried to warn the group off, but the trap was sprung, and floating mines soon surrounded them. An unmasked Manta greeted his old friend Cal Durham but looked on the new Aquaman with the usual suspicion and prejudgment. When Arthur angrily protested, Manta punched him in the mouth. "Shut up! Where is he? Where is Arthur Curry?" Arthur retaliated with a blow that sent Manta flying hard enough to crack Malrey's case. "Hey, guess what? I'm Arthur Curry, too."

Black Manta ordered everyone dead, but his idiot men fired shots through the mine field, setting one off. The explosion burst Malrey's case and knocked Manta out. Cal had Lorena grab the unconscious Malrey, while he tossed some "flash-bangs" pellets to cover their escape in intense light and sound. Arthur had Topo release a flood of ink to further conceal the team, and everyone headed for Cal's girlfriend's place.

Back on the Arctic island of Ymirsheim, Captain Jimmy Lockhart, Elsa Magnusson, and the Sea Devil leader Dane Dorrance were exchanging fire with the Deep Church. Jimmy caught a shot in the right shoulder, but help soon arrived from "The Babe Squad." Dressed in matching pink uniforms with helmets and pistols on each hip, the Squad were female agents of Neos. Sandi was an anthropomorphic lobster with Farrah Fawcett hair, Bambi was a blond dolphin with a ponytail, and Candi was the lovely brunette walrus. The trio had unsealed the exit and guided the humans to their waiting ship, in which they returned to Windward Home. The ladies explained the researchers had stumbled upon the entrance to Dyss...

Dr. Kyesha Salton explained to Cal and his friends that Black Manta had arrived to fill the power vacuum, managing any resistance from folks like Chief Malrey. Manta's forces were also randomly kidnapping people to the long-ago stripped remains of Spawar and the old naval station. Those that returned said they'd only been subjected to routine medical testing, but others never returned at all. It was decided that Garth and Topo would stay with Salton, while the rest would investigate. En route, Lorena told the story of the extended deaths of people trapped in the tunnel through which they now traveled during the quake that sank Sub Diego. The group reached the station, finding it still operational, guarded by a newly armored Black Manta and two of his own iron men...

At Tri-Dent Industries in San Diego, Dr. Philip Curry was alive but not well, still being held captive. Curry had been held for months, answering questions about his dead son, Arthur Joseph...

"You Can't Fight City Hall!" was by Tad Williams and Shawn McManus. Absent the inks of Walden Wong, the art is less polished. Not necessarily better or worse, just different. There's also nice touches, like barnacles growing on Dr. Salton's cupboards. I'm not convinced an apartment building could at all function underwater, but there's an undeniable allure to the subversion of the norm by having our heroes swim over a familiar urban area rather than a fantasy setting.

Brave New World


The Irredeemable Shag said...

I'm not a very big fan of the Tad Williams issues of SWORD OF ATLANTIS. At first I didn't like the Kurt Busiek issues either, but upon re-reading them I discovered my passion for them. I rambled quite a bit about the issues here:

Have you ever covered the Sub-Diego Aquaman issues? Will Pfeifer was the writer. It started around Aquaman #15. Really solid superhero stories.

The Irredeemable Shag

Diabolu Frank said...

I think I've read that page before, either first run or through a link. I did my second and last reading of the Busiek issues for this blog. Beyond hating the evisceration of the Aquaman supporting cast to lay the foundation for Sword, I just find it terribly boring. Artie Joe was a wimp and a jerk, the Dweller babbled on, and only King Shark offered any amusement. I personally found the art to be the worst of Butch Guice's career.

So far, I'm getting a kick out of Williams' issues in rerun. Topo's a little annoying when read across a batch of issues, but Artie Joe as his teasing "big brother" was at least mildly endearing. I love the supporting cast and the dorky gratuitous weirdness of this take. Williams seemed to want more super-heroics and the return of Orin, but editorial straightjacketed him with Artie Joe and quasi-fantasy. I think they knew the volume was doomed, and just let him play out the run before letting the property go on ice.

I've only skimmed the Pfeiffer issues, but John Arcudi's run was possibly my favorite on Aquaman ever. I hope those hold up when I get back to them.