The situation for Arthur Curry and his wife Mera just went from bad, past really bad and into worse territory. As if Black Manta's attack on the embassy at the end of Issue #2 wasn't enough, an Atlantean terrorist group destroyed a naval ship killing several American soldiers, leading the USA to immediately arrest Arthur and detain him for questioning since his kingdom has now seemingly committed an act of war.
There's definitely a bigger plan at play here and it doesn't simply involve framing Arthur and destroying Atlantis as much as it does proving a point about the inferiority of surface dwellers, at least that is what is being presented here in Aquaman #4. Arthur, to his credit is as stoic as he has been from the beginning, remaining cool, calm, collected and non-violent about the situation, which happens to be the exact opposite of Mera who is ready to attack the Secret Service herself to release Arthur from his somewhat voluntary imprisonment.
In the midst of this is a United States government on high alert and ready to launch a full-scale attack on Atlantis in retaliation for the destruction of the naval vessel. In true parallel form, no one that Arthur is speaking to is even listening to his pleas about members of his own kingdom that fear change and would act outside of his and his kingdom's own interests just to start a war to keep the fences up. They're all convinced at this point that Arthur is behind everything, from the embassy attack to the naval vessel and that Atlantis is ready to strike.
This arc really does feel like Clear and Present Danger for sure, but I like it. As an introduction to Aquaman for me, I'm glad to see a story that has this level of political depth and subtext behind it. It really serves to paint a great picture of the frayed nature of relations not just with Atlantis and the United States, but also with Atlanteans and surface dwellers, which is a theme that has been reinforced a few times in this series.
Arthur deserves a ton of credit for his restraint this entire time because as he is clearly being framed and his kingdom is about to plunge into war with the most powerful nation on the planet, he is still thinking and preaching restraint and peace. He and Mera both know that he could turn the tables on this situation at any time, but he refuses to in the name of brokering that trust between the two worlds, even in the face of the other world pointing the finger squarely at him. Arthur Curry is truly a noble king in this story right now.
By comparison, Mera is the opposite but her emotion can be greatly appreciated because while Arthur serves as what a cooler headed person should do, Mera is the embodiment of what most of us WOULD do in the same situation and it's a great counterbalance for this story at the right time, when chaos is erupting all around everyone.
I'm having fun watching this political drama play out and I love the real world parallels drawn from them. Aquaman is starting to become one of my higher rated DC Rebirth series.
5 out of 5 - DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH: Aquaman #4
This series runs twice a month, next issue due out August 17.