Aquaman (1994) #63
Title: King Arthur
Cover Title: none
Cover Date: January 2000
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Pencils: Steve Epting
Inks: Norm Rapmund
Colors: Noelle Giddings and Jamison
Lettering: John Workman
Editor: Tony Bedard
Cover: Mike Kaluta
Cover Price: $1.99
Many years from now, Donna, writing the Atlantis Chronicles, contacts Tempest to clarify some of the history she's recording. Tempest starts with the war with Cerdia.
While Aquaman appears on a talk show with an annoying host, Dolphin gives birth to Tempest's son. Aquaman learns of an assasination attempt on his own life at the same time Atlantis is attacked by coral creatures. Aquaman and Tempest rush to the defense of their home, but are unable to stop the creatures from destroying the power core of the city.
The Cover: Whoa. I don't really know what I was expecting from Kaluta, but this is definitely along the lines I was thinking of. No scan will do the detail of this cover justice, so I recommend looking at it at your local shop, if possible. A closer look reveals the never-explained cyber-hand has fully replaced the hook, in both the larger Aquaman figure and the smaller swimming figure. The larger figure is apparently being crowned (or un-crowned) by two very flexible Tritonians. The swimming Aquaman figure is wearing a slightly different outfit than the previous Aquaman, accented by gold instead of black. Overall, the hint of fantasy linked to the mythos we know makes me eager to find out what's inside this issue.
Two annoying nits, leftovers from the parody era: Aquaman's stupid gold hand and headband, and Dolphin's baby. Bleah. Get rid of that junk, and this issue would be near perfect.
That out of the way, this was a really strong story, much better than I was expecting from the previews. The use of the flashback manages to distance the story from the parody of Aquaman that was the last 13 issues, while setting up a good starting point for the tale. It doesn't have to take place right after the last issue. This could have been set anywhere in Aquaman's life.
Nice use of Tempest's power on page 10. Indeed, Tempest is used well throughout this issue, even in his bits as father.
Who is Donna? Donna can't be the baby, it's a boy. It's not Donna Troy, the implication is that she's Atlantean (keeper of the Chronicles and all). If you read the last page closely, you get a pretty good idea... she calls Tempest "Grandpa". Now, is she the child's daughter? Or someone else entirely?
The art is overall good. Not spectacular, but certainly solid. The storytelling is much better than the last few issues. Everything flows well. The coloring is strong, better than recent coloring. I still miss Tom McCraw.
My biggest concern about the book is that wars between Atlantis and the surface world have been done before. At least a couple of times. Although Jurgens pulls out some nice twists and differences here, I hope this book can stay original despite a fairly tired overall plot.
One last tiny nit: since when is Vulko a midwife?
Aquaman is back.