When going through school, I noticed two things about history class: History itself was extremely cool but having to learn that history through notes and lectures wasn’t. Therefore I hadn’t paid much attention even though history was always something I had a partial interest in. Looking back and re-learning though, I realized why I history itself will always remain cool: the mythology it creates. The vast and expansive mythos of the world is something that will always remain timelessly cool and interesting. All the battles fought, the inventions of different forms of politics, countless bouts of activism, etc. History is just plain out cool but history lessons are not.
Aquaman #24 is both history and a history lesson of the Aquaman mythos. As a result, it ends up being a mixed bag. The history itself is cool, with the twist as to what Aquaman’s heritage really is and how this affects his birthright, yet having to slog through the lesson via treacherous amounts of exposition is what pains me to give this a lower score than I normally would. I always feel that many comic writers tend to overwrite, and this is an example of that. There are lots of caption boxes and monologuing from Vulko about the history of the seven kingdoms of Atlantis and the two brothers who ruled them. It obscures a lot of gorgeous-looking art from Mr. Pelletier.
The actual history is exciting and a great way to expand upon the Aquaman mythos. What we get is a tale of family, betrayal, expansive kingdoms, romance, and action galore. Atlan and Orin are two well-defined characters for the limited page space they get, and we finally learn the secret of what The Trench really are, and how the remaining three kingdoms of Atlantis came to be. This introduces a whole new ballgame for Aquaman in addition to what’s already been added, and kudos goes to Johns for keeping things simple enough as to not get convoluted. Yet this leaves us with too many open-ended questions, especially since this is the penultimate issue to Johns run. This lowers the score a little further for me, because it seems Johns won’t be able to close everything off properly. There’s too much setup, too many questions, and not enough answers.
While the history itself is cool, the issue’s real saving grace is Pelletier’s art and the coloring of Rod Reis. Pelletier breathes life into the history lesson, giving us a great look at the intricate architecture and cultural embellishments of the different Atlantean kingdoms. Each place and group of people has a unique look all their own. One would think something like this so entrenched in fantasy-style tropes would have same-y looking characters but it doesn’t. It does help that Rod Reis colors each scene accordingly, with warm hues of yellow and brown during sunset and strong shades of blue for underwater and arctic scenes. I can’t think of a moment where things blurred into each other.
Aquaman #24 feels like a weak penultimate chapter. With it being both history and a history lesson, it results in a mixed bag of some great concepts punctuated by weaker storytelling. I honestly expected something more out of him before Johns closed off his run.