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What Is The Noob 52?
As many far-more-informed comic book fans know, DC recently completely relaunched pretty much all of their properties; cancelling all current story lines and starting from scratch in an experiment known as The New 52. The design of this experiment was to entice new readers by giving them a chance to come in on the ground floor on any of 52 brand new titles. As someone pathetically out of touch with almost everything related to comic books and comic book characters, I decided to test this experiment by diving headfirst into each and every issue. I will judge these issues based on the art, the story, and how well the writers made this alien world accessible to noobs like me. I will end each piece by explaining what I now understand about the worlds of these characters, based exclusively on what The New 52 has taught me with no other (or very little) previous frame of reference. Join me, won’t you?
Writer(s): Geoff Johns
Going In, What Do I Know?
I freely admit, Aquaman is probably the character against which I had the most unfair prejudice. Knowing next to nothing about him, apart from the fact that he lived in the ocean and talked to fish, I cast him off as one of the most worthless superheroes ever conceived. I mean how often can the ability to communicate with a cuttlefish save the Earth from certain doom? I also knew that he was a member of some group, can’t remember if it was the Justice League, but that seems like the most likely scenario. I also seem to remember he was the prince of Atlantis.
‘Aquaman #1’ is beautiful. In addition to terrific character construction and attention to several finite details, there was a fascinating play on sunlight as it related to Aquaman’s costume. The armor around his chest was clearly made of a reflective material and the way in which the artist communicates the play of sunlight on that armor is brilliant in more ways than one. I also rather liked the design of the monstrous sea creatures that bookended the issue. They were sort of a riff on the creatures from Roger Corman’s ‘Humanoids from the Deep.’ There is also a panel of a lighthouse at night near the end of the issue that is jaw-droppingly gorgeous.
I was completely blown away by the story of ‘Aquaman #1.’ The issue fully acknowledges the misconceptions of the character as well as every joke of which Aquaman has been the butt. In other words, Aquaman has an orca-sized chip on its shoulder and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t perfectly serve the narrative. When the cop asks if he needs a glass of water simply because he’s standing on land, the expression on Aquaman’s face is one of complete disdain. When people recoil at his order of fish and chips in a restaurant, he is puzzled by their shock. They even go so far as to have a guy, a blogger no less, ask him how he feels about being a joke in the superhero world; referencing YouTube and SNL laughs at his expense. But all the while, the issue portrays the new Aquaman to be pretty badass and obviously fed up with the misconceptions about him.
I also like that here again the New 52 seems to be leaning on horror for their storylines. The creatures from the trench devour a human being in a scene framed as if it were a horror film. It suggests a violent death without being overly explicit, but the swirling blood in the ocean waters serves as an ominous signal that a full-scale monster invasion is looming. There’s a nice balance here of developing the Aquaman character for the reboot and introducing a horror-laced story arc.
What The New 52 Taught Me:
Aquaman schooled me just like he did the other ignorant stooges in that seafood restaurant. Apparently he can, and frequently does exist outside of the waters of the ocean with no immediate need to be submerged. He does not talk to fish, as they are too primitive a species to engage in conversation. He merely taps into their midbrains and forces them to do his bidding whenever it serves his purposes. His father was human and his mother was the queen of Atlantis; making him the current king. He is dating a redheaded mermaid named Mera. His super strength seems to come from his trident and his armor appears to be resistant to bullets. No mention of an affiliation with the Justice League or any other group as of yet.
Will I Remain A Noob?
Way to go New 52 ‘Aquaman,’ you’ve made a believer out of me. Not only am I fascinated to see where this sea monster story is going, but I am officially onboard with this character. They’ve taken someone I’ve always considered a punchline and turned him into a real hero.
Like the Noob 52? You'll love 'Noobs with Boobs' over at Lounge Geeks!