While using his telepathy to probe his new hand, Aquaman has a vision of his father, Arthur Curry the lighthouse keeper, being attacked. Curry tells Aquaman that he has the power in the palm of his hand.
Aquaman is in western Ireland, and the Martian Manhunter brings him clothing and supplies. Aquaman tells J'onn he's leaving the League for a time. Wandering alone along the coast, he finds a lighthouse and helps an old lighthouse keeper, McCaffrey. He also meets Sweeney, a member of the Maritime Commission, as a storm approaches.
Meanwhile, back in Atlantis, Vulko claims that Aquaman is free to go because he escaped the reef, but Rodunn tells him that the constitution has been suspended and the death sentence still stands. The sorcerous class, apparently led by Tubold and Skuld, is working to blind the navigation systems of the surfacers. They create a monster that blooms to the surface and disrupts electronics.
With its connection to the satellite lost, an oil tanker risks spilling their load. McCaffrey, out in his skiff, starts to lead them in. But Rodunn and his gang of thugs want to lure Aquaman into the water, and they attack McCaffrey and injure him. At the lighthouse with Sweeney, Aquaman hears of the problems and goes to the rescue. He is a match for the Atlanteans now, and defeats them as well as their monster, using his new hand. He then leads the tanker in, and saves McCaffrey.
After all is said and done, McCaffrey wants to hire Aquaman on at the lighthouse... seems he might have found a bit of a home for a time.
Cover Review: I can't help it. This cover keeps reminding me of that old Super Friends short where the Titanic comes to life and tries to eat Aquaman and Black Vulcan. I guess I was just traumatized by it as a kid, or something. But, for me the Russian tanker looming over Aquaman is both frightening and silly. Update: With the final version of the cover done in shades of blue, the constrast is better and reminds me a bit less of Super Friends. Whew!
And for the contents of the book... wow.
The vision of Arthur Curry the lighthouse keeper, a man who acted as Aquaman's father, brings back a long unresolved plot thread in the life of the modern Aquaman. What happened to Arthur Curry? Asking that question marks a new direction for the character and firmly establishes a new plotline for the series. It also adds a new dimension to Aquaman that most readers aren't familiar with, how was Aquaman raised? He learned his human habits from a lighthouse keeper and now he's come full circle, back to a lighthouse. This series so far has had a couple of circles. First the concept of being left to die on dry land, and now a return to the lighthouse. Strong ties to the past are already being established even as we reach out into a different future.
When Aquaman saves McCaffrey, we learn the impact of Arthur Curry's dissappearance on Aquaman, something that has never been explored. Aquaman's desperate plea for help in saving McCaffrey shows a weakness and a strength that is refreshing after years of unresolved angst. But with McCaffrey, Aquaman has apparently found a surrogate father, one that he was able to save. It will be interesting to see if hanging around with McCaffrey changes Aquaman's perceptions of the world.
And, speaking of the rest of the world, Aquaman is simultaneously cutting himself off from it, by leaving the Justice League, and bringing himself closer to it, by establishing himself at the lighthouse at Mizen Head. This should lead to stories that take place on a lesser scale, but hit home much harder. I'm looking forward to it.
As for the Justice League, it was nice to see the run-in with J'onn. While the two have been best friends in the past, Aquaman doesn't seem to realize that J'onn is equipped to understand him better than anyone else at the moment, now that Aquaman is trapped in exile like J'onn has been for years. Having Aquaman reject even J'onn just emphasizes how alone Aquaman has become, and how far he has to go. A very good scene.
Going back to Atlantis, we're getting the makings of a huge mystery here. While the prevailing opinion on the 'net is that Gamemnae's final curse is causing the Atlanteans to act against Aquaman, we have a contrary example in Vulko, who seems to want Aquaman to go free. Rodunn, formerly Aquaman's bodyguard, is rapidly becoming the best Aquaman villain to swim the ocean. Two new characters, Tubold and Skuld, are using strange powers to accomplish what Rodunn wants. And lastly, Mera. According to Rodunn, Mera suspended the constitution. And Rodunn says that he can only take his place as captain of Mera's imperial guard once her predecessor is dead. Sounds like she won't appoint Rodunn to the position unless Aquaman dies. While we know that Rodunn is now truly nasty (he attacks an old man and tries to crash an oil tanker), we haven't seen Mera since the end of Obsidian Age. I haven't put all the pieces together and come up with a new theory, but I am very interested in the motives of the Atlanteans. And now, after this hint of Vulko's rebellion, I'm interested in seeing how he's handling it all (thank goodness for the upcoming Secret Files!).
Moving on, we have the introduction of two new characters in this issue. McCaffrey is turning into a father figure for Aquaman, is Sweeney his new love interest? While both characters immediately came across as interesting and lovable, at the moment both are little more than effectively used stereotypes. I hope that both characters are fleshed out more in the next few issues.
Lastly, the use of Aquaman's powers in this issue was understated and effective. Aquaman is shown as a powerful swimmer and better fighter than Rodunn's thug Kirkuk or the sharks brought in to defeat him. He also is smarter than Rodunn, using the situation Rodunn created to defeat him. It's nice to see Aquaman is still a hero. The nobility of his rush to help McCaffrey and the oil tanker Aberdeen Castle was truly effective (take a look at Aquaman's expression in the top panel of page 14: he knows what is waiting for him, but he's going anyway). It was also nice to see Aquaman's sonar ability (first seen in issue #35 of the Peter David run) used in such a basic way. The new abilities of the hand will be interesting to discover. How can Aquaman's telepathy, focused through the hand, disrupt magic?
Ok, it's question time!
Oh wow. This is great! More!