Aquaman: Underworld by Dan Abnett

details
Title: Aquaman.
Story-Arc: Underworld.
Volume: 4.
Series: Rebirth
Writer(s): Dan Abnett.
Illustrator(s)Stjepan Šejić.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Format: Hardcover – Deluxe Edition.
Release Date: November 20th 2018 (first published January 30th 2018).
Pages: 160.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781401285043.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.

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As the main writer of the current Aquaman Rebirth series, Dan Abnett, alongside comic book artist and writer Stjepan Šejić, blows everyone out of the water in Aquaman: Underworld. Known for several of his work with DC Comics and Marvel, Dan Abnett also garners great fame for his novels within the Warhammer franchise, and truly showcases his storytelling gift in Aquaman: Underworld. By drawing upon some of Aquaman’s greatest elements from his mythology, he not only comes up with one of the most compelling stories simmering with potential, but also gives readers a reason to love the character and his beloved city of Atlantis. Collecting issues #25 to 30, this story arc is a grandiose achievement for the medium and presents fans with what would undoubtedly be an unforgettable underwater adventure.

What is Aquaman: Underworld about, you wonder? The story explores the reign of King Rath in Atlantis while the Old King is presumed dead. As rumours arise from the dark corners of the sea of a potential impostor of the Old King, the climate within the kingdom is boiling with rage and impatience. Decreeing the conjuration of an Atlantean techno-magic force field to protect the city from outside threat, an outright segregation within Atlantean civilization is noticed. However, rumours of the ex-king Arthur’s survival reaches the surface and brings a mourning and exiled Mera, wife of the Old King, to do anything to reunite with her lost love. As the story develops, an impending uprising is slowly teased, but most importantly a reflection on the qualities needed to be a king is brilliantly explored. The story also ventures into a closer look at marginalized communities and the underlying issues of corruption and prejudice that rules within the city.

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Dan Abnett hits all the right notes in Aquaman: Underworld. There are a lot of recurring characters from the hero’s lore integrated within this story arc, but never are they thrown in without context and complex characterization. With an excellent recapitulation of past events seamlessly interwoven into the narrative, the story flows with perfect rhythm and easily draws you into the world. While it may be the fourth volume of the series, it reads perfectly like a stand-alone story, although it does not regroup the entire story arc. An ending that however sends chills down your spine is present but will inevitably build desperation among fans for the rest of the story arc. Nonetheless, the story still contains enough information to be considered self-contained and tackles ideas of heroism and marginalization as it reflects on the current alliances and threats within the Atlantic kingdom. The introduction of a mysteriously silent ally is a gift to fans as well as this character was born with charm and embodies intrigue like no other character before.

Personally beyond astonished, the artwork shines upon the depths of these Atlantean waters an unprecedented amount of light that not only brings to life the obscure creatures of the sea, but also the unique politics of an underwater civilization. What Stjepan Šejić accomplishes in Aquaman: Underworld is a statement of his phenomenal talent as his visionary take of this aquatic universe is beyond reproach, especially when you bring a magnifying glass onto the meticulous details that he focuses on. From the attention he gives to facial expressions to the beautiful underwater movements he brings to the universe, there is no denying that he injects a rejuvenating boost to the franchise since Geoff John’s revolutionary New 52 run with the character. It is also necessary to mention the incredible aura that surrounds some of these characters in their design alone. From Arthur Curry to Mera, there is so much to praise in his work.

Aquaman: Underworld is a spectacularly stunning tale on the roles of kings and heroes through a war for the rightful heir to the throne.


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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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The final trailer for Aquaman is out! Mark your calendars! Arthur Curry visits theaters on December 21st!
P.S. The movie will not be necessarily based on this story arc in particular.

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32 thoughts on “Aquaman: Underworld by Dan Abnett

    1. Absolutely excited for the movie. It’ll be thrilling for sure! I wonder what direction they’ll go with the universe though… Now that they are quickly announcing all kinds of different movies, but with no plans for Justice League 2…

      Only you can tell if it’ll ever impress you or not. 😀 I would however be curious to see how you’d fair with a “solid” volume, something like this one, for example. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I think DC is scrambling just to keep the franchise alive. Maybe do some one on one crossovers until they feel courageous enough to try a JL 2? Eh, whatever 🙂

        I think my time with graphic novels is really done. I’m just not interested any more. Which is why I like that you’re reviewing so many. I can keep my toes in the water and have a little idea of what is being produced without having to go and sample it all myself…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yep. I am hopeful that further down the road there will be a surprise, but for now I’ll just imagine all the upcoming movies as stand-alone stuff and see what they’ve got in store for us.

        Ohhhh right, I suddenly had a flash of that Superman review you did and how you stated the end of your comic book adventures. Ahhh… Well, I’m glad that I’m not boring you with these, for now, at least. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. This looks good! Aquaman has been one of the most ridiculed DC heroes of old (oh, those were the times, and now?? He seems like a great, realistic, psychologically deep character :P) Abnett’s and Šejić’s names here convince me to give it a try (despite Abnett’s Silencer flop). Great review!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yep. He really was ridiculed, and I like that writers acknowledge it and even make fun of that sometimes nowadays! But Geoff Johns is definitely the one that turned Aquaman into a much more serious and complex character! Ohhh, yes, I’d be curious to hear what you’d think of it if you ever get the chance to try it out. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Omg, first I was “hahaha it’d be fun haha” then figured what it would mean to see Drogo as a white walker, and so many plots came into my mind 😱😱😱😱 the ultimate proof that George Martin has to finish the books before the tv show ends 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The movie looks dynamite, doesn’t it!? I feel like I don’t see movies that often anymore but this one may be the one that causes me and my roommates to hit the theaters!! Actually I love the look of this and was actually eyeing a Mira graphic novel… (I think I spelled that right, the mergirl associated with aquaman somehow?!) It sounds like though he really thought about this struggle and how to present it and include all the side characters fans want to see and hear from. I love your gallery, it always makes me want to get into comics Lashaan!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome review sir! I have part of this arc but still need to complete it, I found it to be an interesting read and a smart reboot of sorts for Aquaman whose earlier Rebirth stuff I hear was actually not very good at all. Whilst I favour Geoff Johns’ New 52 run, Abnett and Sejic have certainly expanded the Aquaman mythos and, you’re right, established a truly astonishing ‘aquatic universe’.

    Looking forward to seeing the movie this coming Friday, fingers crossed it works out…although I do worry slightly about the comparisons to Thor: Ragnarok. Obviously I want it to be fun but DC going for MCU style goofiness concerns me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Chris. I think you’ll appreciate this more than the first 3 volumes of the Rebirth run. So far, Abnett’s style can be tricky, but with Sejic I feel like they accomplished something unique here and I do wonder if the volume after this holds up and delivers a nice finale.

      Oh man, same here. I haven’t seen any of the newer trailers since the first one, but everyone seems to have changed their minds on Aquaman being the next flop and are actually excited. I do hope it’s not purely comedy though. Knowing that the director loves his horror movies, but also the one behind of the more recent Fast and Furious movies (who have been quite a mess and much more comedy/action oriented than anything), I hope he hits the right spots with Aquaman. Will look forward to your thoughts on it.

      Like

  4. I saw the movie and I enjoyed the back story of how Aquaman came about. There were parts that kind of got idea from King Arthur and Excalibur. Jason Momoa though really stands out and embodies the hero well.

    Like

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