Aquaman Volume 4: Underworld
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Stjepan Sejic
Letterer: Steve Wands
Publisher: DC Comics
Review by Cory Webber
***Spoilers ahead from Volume 3. Do not read if you are not caught up***
Aquaman Volume 4 picks up where the last volume left off. Arthur Curry is dead, Atlantis has been cut off from the outside world, and a new king has taken the throne. But, this is comics, and no one stays dead for too long. Arthur has been hiding out in the slums, committing rebellious acts against the throne to protect mutated individuals that have been exiled to the Ninth Tride, the most desolate and desperate of all the Trides. There he meets a mysterious mute mutant that might be more than she first appears to be.
Aquaman by Abnett is the Aquaman we have all been waiting for. Abnett has been bringing together various strands from the beginning of Volume 1 that are now all being weaved into a beautiful tapestry full of intrigue, deception, heroism from unlikely sources, and the beginning of a plot to rival that of Game of Thrones. The story is complex and layered, so I suggest reading the first three volumes; however, Abnett does a pretty good job of making the story understandable to a new reader. He has created an Atlantis with varying factions, constituencies and races. And he has given us maybe the most powerful and dominant version of Mera. Seriously, she is a force to be reckoned with, especially when she hears whisperings that Arthur might be alive.
Again, Abnett has created a diverse, layered story, and each character has a unique voice. I especially liked the way the communication was depicted between Arthur and the mute mutant named Dolphin. Aquaman really has our hero as a true underdog, and Abnett does not cut any corners to make his path to regain his status easy by any means. This book continues to get better the more Abnett writes it, and this volume got a serious upgrade in the art department. Mind you, the previous art was great, but this new artist really elevated this book to be one of the best DC has to offer. It is becoming a saga full of science-fiction, magic, technology, drama and fantasy; in one word: epic!
That new artist is Stjepan Sejic. He did the pencils, inks, colors and covers, and he did them all flawlessly. His moody tones and shadows really amped up the desperate situation Arthur finds himself in. And, his water lines and depiction of movement are some of the best I’ve ever seen…seriously, I was mesmerized by the swirls and streams caused by underwater movement. Sejic was meant to draw Aquaman. His choice of color is similar to previous volumes, except he uses darker hues and shades. At times, his pencils are visible through the ink and color, which added a layer of grittiness. This whole story leads up to the next volume, in which the many factions vie for the throne, and this extra layer of grit accentuates the tumult caused by a vacant throne and a scared people. I could not say enough about the art. Many of the panels and pages have stuck with me long after seeing them.
Buy it (and the other three volumes)! There is such a great flow throughout Aquaman Volume 4, a culmination of expert storytelling and mesmerizing art. I cannot wait for the next volume! Now, if only July could get here sooner.