REVIEW: ‘Aquaman,’ Issue #66

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Aquaman #66 - But Why Tho?

Aquaman #66 is published by DC Comics. Written by Andy Lanning and Ron Marz. Art by Miguel Mendonca. Colours by Ivan Plascencia. The letterer is Clayton Cowles. There is a flashback sequence with art by Marco Santucci, colours by Arif Prianto, and Troy Peteri. This is Part 4 of Endless Winter. Agents of Stagg industries have accidentally unleashed the Frost King after digging in the crater where the Fortress of Solitude used to reside. The Frost King unleashed a brutal snowstorm on the entire planet, while his icy minions covered the globe. The heroes are battling the waves of monsters, but they are severely outnumbered.

In the past, The Frost King was a human in a Viking colony. Frightened of his power, the members of his community burned his house down and attacked his family. The Frost King tried to defend his loved ones, but his son was caught in the crossfire…

In the flashback portion of this issue, the Frost King starts to enact his revenge. With his cryogenic abilities, he is virtually unstoppable. A foursome of ancient beings, including Swamp Thing and Black Adam, have gathered to fight him.

The main bulk of the comic follows Aquaman and Mera diving down to protect Atlantis, under siege by the frozen creatures. The former royal couple recently dissolved the monarchy, and are not well-liked by many of the senior members of the City Council. Trapped inside the crown city with a never-ending army outside and a plummeting sea temperature, Aquaman must swim even deeper in search of allies…

The plot is well-structured, possibly better than the two solo issues of Endless Winter that have come before. The heroes are in danger and penned in by powerful monsters, which forces those within the city to look for alternative actions to defend themselves. Aquaman being the only person strong enough to withstand the extreme conditions of the area he must enter makes the narrative a dangerous quest for the hero to conquer. The initial plot had similarities in it to a Thor comic, with hints of a King Arthur short story.

What Lanning and Marx do brilliantly is they take what could be a very predictable comic and insert small twists to subvert that. Aquaman’s mission doesn’t go as planned, and how it the story changes is a surprise. The ending implies a turning point of the event which is welcome as the novelty may have started to get old.  The few pages of the flashback sequence within every issue is slowly building the history of the event. There is never quite enough of each one, so the reader is always wanting more of it. Santucci, Prianto, and Peteri have been consistently fantastic on the art, and the consistency of using the same trio in every issue reminds us that all of the parts belong to the same story.

The dialogue has a classic comic book feel to it, featuring lines and methods that felt like an issue from the 70s and 80s. There were times during the fight scenes where Aquaman and Mera announce what they’re doing as they’re doing it. If Arthur tries to communicate telepathically with an aquatic creature, he announces to both those around him and the reader. This brought back memories of DC and Marvel comics of the past, where Iron Man would loudly say that he was using his repulsor blasts, or Cyclops regularly reminding everyone about his optic blasts. This dialogue style is realistic or dramatic, but the throwback makes a lover of the classic stories grin. 

Arthur and Mera are well written within this part of Endless Winter. They work brilliantly as a duo and as a couple, an extremely powerful team-up. Mera arguably acts more like a ruler than her husband, willing to remind soldiers of her former status. Aquaman himself is more focused on what his task is. The star of the issue is Andy, the adorable daughter of the former royal couple. There are several panels where Andy will be crawling across a strategic map, offering some comic relief around characters that don’t usually have any.

While this is mainly a tie-in to Endless Winter, the ramifications of Aquaman’s actions previous in the series are brought up. Several political figures have animosity towards both Arthur and Mera, but there are still the pillars of Atlantis that revere them. Aquaman seems to be incredibly respectful to those that now command the kingdom he used to rule.

The art by Mendonca is gorgeous and perfectly suited for Aquaman #66. Both Arthur and Mera look fantastic. What is always clear is their speed and power when swimming at speed. They have a regal appearance in every panel they are in. The detail is exquisite, cross-hatching depicting the scales on their costumes. What is lovely to see is how Mendonca draws Andy to resemble her mother, looking like a baby version of Mera.

The locations under the sea are stunning. Intricate, thin lines paint etch patterns on the walls of Atlantis, giving it a sense of history and grandeur. The ice creatures are also awesome in their design. The variety of artists enlisted on Endless Winter allows each one to put their own spin on the frozen monsters. It would have been near impossible for just one artist to work on a crossover releasing at this speed, but it also stops the creatures from becoming generic to look at. Mendonca makes fiercer, the icicles on their back looking sharper than they had done previously.  And the best addition in Aquaman #66 was the inclusion of these huge ice dragons, with slim, limbless bodies and monstrous faces. For reference, they are similar in design to the Cyber Dragons from Yu-Gi-OH. These new creatures haven’t been seen yet, but they are amazing to look at.

The colours by Plascencia are just as detailed as the line art. Multiple shades of the same colours are used on Arthur and Mera’s costumes, giving the impression of scales and texture. Small squares glint in the light, both orange and green respectively. For maybe the first time in Endless Winter, a large part of the issue is a different colour than blue for a time. As Aquaman ventures deeper into a place filled with lava, a red aura takes over. The contrast between hot and cold can be clearly felt. Finally, the letters are great by Cowles, again capturing that classic comic feels. On numerous occasions, their font size is changed, building excitement.

Aquaman #66 hints at a changing tide in Endless Winter. The comic looks stunning, Mendonca and Plascencia capturing the battle of the undersea world superbly. During the individual issues of this event, Lanning and Marz are able to balance the larger story at play whilst also showcasing the personalities of the title heroes. Aquaman’s bravery and dedication is clear here, as is Mera’s power. But at the same time, Endless Winter rages on.

Aquaman #66 is available where comics are sold.


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TL;DR

Aquaman #66 hints at a changing tide in Endless Winter. The comic looks stunning, Mendonca and Plascencia capturing the battle of the undersea world superbly. During the individual issues of this event, Lanning and Marz are able to balance the larger story at play whilst also showcasing the personalities of the title heroes. Aquaman’s bravery and dedication is clear here, as is Mera’s power. But at the same time, Endless Winter rages on.