November 22, 2008

, ,   |  

Aquaman Time and Tide

Written by Peter David
Illustrated by Kirk Jarvin and Brad Vancata
DC

Despite commenting repeatedly on how I dislike "Year One" type stories as a rule, I keep reading them. Clearly there is something wrong with me.

There's nothing wrong with this one, however, if you accept that it is very much a product of its time. Batman was getting back broken, Superman was dying, and Hal Jordan was about to get villanized, if he hadn't been already. Therefore, Aquaman is a rougher, tougher version that may come from cursed parentage and is completely unsure of all that he's done. He's also long-haired and badly drawn because, well, this is a 1990s comic.

Before I go into this four part story that covers different times in Aquaman's life, I have to comment here on what I thought impossible, except for maybe Rob Liefield. A four part series, with the same penciller and same inker, looks nothing like itself from issue to issue. Aquaman's head changes shape repeatedly, sometimes within the very same issue.

It's frankly very distracting, which is a shame because, within all the 1990s need to update things, Peter has written a solid four part story that, while it would be better in the larger context of Aquaman at the time, still holds up as something that can be read on its own. He manages this by deftly telling us what he's referencing (rather than the old "See issue 67!" trick) without it seeming like an info dump. David can manage this because, well, he's a great writer.

The stories themselves have a bit of a link, in that they relate to Arthur's relations to those on the surface and how they've shaped his life. We get a first meeting with Barry Allen and an affirmation of the "new" Aquaman that has only tolerable relations with the surface world. Thre's a rather odd story about Arthur being raised by dolphins (who knew Peter David could write a Disney story?) and details about one of his early loves. Naturally, because all DC heroes must have problems with their women, this early love does not go well. (We also get a typical 1990s DC female "sexy bad guy" in here, but that can't be helped.)

By the end, Arthur is not very sure about much, other than there's a lot of his life to discover. Had David been allowed to stay on the book longer, I'm sure we'd have had some answers. As it is, there's some good comic material in here, but I'd expect nothing less from Peter David. Definitely worth picking up if you can find it, but be warned there's some really blatent 90s-isms in here that must be endured. I wish DC would release some more of this in trade, as the single issues are hard to find. Good times.