Wednesday, May 11, 2011

CBR Aquaman: Year One


Reading JLA: Year One and more recently Brightest Day made me want to check out more about Aquaman, a character until now I wasn't really interested in nor could I take him seriously. (hey! the guy used to talk to dolphins!)

That's when I came across this book.
Which seemed like a good enough starting point for everything Aquaman and his related mythos.

Comic title: Aquaman Annual #1: Year One
Framing sequence by Martin Egeland & Howard M. Shum
Chapter 1 by Casey Jones & Craig Gilmore
Chapter 2 by Jake Jacobsen & Craig Gilmore
Chapter 3 by J. Califiore & Mark McKenna
Chapter 4 by Phil Jimenez & John Stokes
Published by DC
From 1995

Lineup Aquaman
Format: 1995 Annual one-shot under the label Year One.

After the big comic book time altering event from the early 90s, DC Comics decided it was a good moment to produce several Year One comics as jumping points for new readers that might had decided to start reading new titles.
(and that event was Zero Hour, already mentioned in my Atom comics review)
Kinda inspired by what they had done in the past after the Crisis from the mid-80s, relaunching several titles like Batman, Wonder Woman, Man of Steel, etc..
But this time just one-shots about ~40 pages of comics each, mostly recapping events to help bring readers up to speed on the various on-going comics at that time.

Amongst these were Arthur Curry's origins retold, which concerns us here today.

 Our narrator finds a mysterious diary in a cave... The Aqua-cave...

And the title is kinda misleading. It's not actually the story of Aquaman's first year of activity.
But rather, "Aquaman's First Couple of Years" (that would have been a more correct name for this story).

The story is told from the then-present.

A bunch of bad guys are finally able to locate one of Aquaman's famous secret lair, or as they dub it "Aqua-cave". Hoping to find inestimable treasures and more, one of them comes across a book, a personal diary written by the Dweller-In-The-Depths himself. He starts reading it up...and then...

 Happy Days.

The story is divided in 4 chapters, contained withing a framing story, each drawn and written by different creative teams. But all perfectly integrated and it isn't one of these collaborations that end up looking like poor man's patchworks.
The overall narration glues all these stories perfectly together and one follows the other one naturally.

Each story tells an important moment in Aquaman's early carreer.

In the first set in his childhood, Aquaman is seen defying the Sea God Triton and his first meeting with Wonder Woman (and the Amazons).
The second one is about the beginning of his relationship with the Queen Mera while meanwhile Garth, the Aqualad, is given a funny sideplot with Tula.
In the third chapter, after getting Triton's father angry, the all-powerful God Poseidon, Aquaman is forced to avoid water and he teams up with Superman for one of the first times.
And in the last, as Mera is giving birth to his son, story-elements from all previous chapters come to an end thematically.

Ha, those kids... Well played Garth!

The stories are all kinda different in tone, which suits the changes of artstyle. But overall, they all set a specific mood which comes full circle in the end. (with the "current" Aquaman appearance)

It presents and sets the mood of the Aquaman from the 90s, who despite everything, at heart, is a good well-intentioned guy. But let's just say it, his life kinda sucks. The poor guy lived through a lot of painful events..

It's a nice recap moreso than your usual Year One books. But is a nice follow-up to JLA: Year One I think. and establishes crucial parts of what makes this character tic.

Overall, really nice comic. Probably amongst some of the best solo-outings the kind of seas got during the 90s.

A lot of Year Ones books were published in 1995. This one's amongst some of the best they've done!
I'm just sad it didn't get a little paperback-like print like some Elseworlds did.. I mean, even most Atom one-shots were published on better paper with cardboard glossy covers...

Different and quite original take on the Year One concept. You're interested in Aquaman? Don't miss this one out.
If not, this won't change your mind about the character.

I give it:

  2 / 3 Plastic-trophies!

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