Three issues into Aquaman and we're already headed into deeper territory than I thought we would be heading into.
From the beginning, once it was established that Black Manta would be seeking his revenge against the King of Atlantis it felt like this was going to be a very personal arc centered around a story of vengeance for one of Aquaman's deadliest foes. That might still be the case, but Issue #3 takes us down a much, much bigger road.
Black Manta's attack on the embassy while leading to his arrest has also increased tension between Atlantis and the United States, with Arthur caught right in the middle of trying to broker a peace between the two nations, both of whom have major players and characters that are unwilling to trust the other implicitly and that includes Arthur's wife Mera. Despite her mistrust of the situation from the American side, she is more than willing to do as her husband and king wishes and remains at his side for the entirety of the situation.
This series is taking a very political turn with a focus on some heavy issues like the Patriot Act, politics and terrorism in general and while we get a good understanding of where the United States lies on this issue, we also get a glimpse of how the Atlanteans see the situation, which makes you just feel bad for Arthur because he is essentially the monkey in the middle, caught between trying to rule his world and broker a peace with the surface dwellers of the USA.
Meanwhile, Black Manta is hardly out of the picture as he has been acquired and offered work by N.E.M.O., a sinister organization that shares his disdain for Arthur and appreciates his capabilities. Not a whole lot is explained yet on that front but definitely something to keep an eye on later.
The political intrigue and "Tom Clancy" nature of this story might serve to be a slower read for some people, but I enjoyed the political parallels to real life and the story and character development to this point. Arthur is a cool customer to this point, remaining rational and sound as he acts in what he believes to be the best interests of Atlantis, without creating anymore tension than there already is. Unfortunately for him and Mera, the tension has only begun and is soon to get much, much worse.
This series has been my official comic book introduction to Aquaman and I like it as one of the better DC Rebirth books with a so far strong story and good characters to balance everything out. Maybe there could be more action in it, but these story arcs play out over several issues for a reason indeed.
4 out of 5 - DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH: Aquaman #3
This series is twice a month, next issue due out August 3.