Written by Andrew Fontana
Issue 9 of Aquaman continues where last we left off, with Arthur battling the Shaggy Man from the edge of Atlantis to the streets of Amnesty Bay. Issues 8 and 9 taken together feel like interludes between longer arcs, but Abnett keeps things palatable with action tinged with just enough character work to give each traded blow a bit of oomph.
Abnett thoroughly understands the inner workings of Arthur Curry. His deft characterization of Aquaman elevates what could have been a humdrum slugfest of an issue into something ultimately more satisfying. Arthur is possessed of a nobility of character that can sometimes border on pride; that Abnett can dance the line between the two and still keep Arthur sympathetic showcases his skill as a writer. Arthur is conflicted by his now strained relationship with the Justice League. He refuses to call in his old friends, instead resolving the fight with Shaggy Man through his own resourcefulness. Tensions between Arthur and the League have been paramount since the New 52, but Abnett uses it here to underscore Aquaman’s self-reliance. The subplot with Mera at the Tower of Widowhood continues to frustrate, however. She appears once to give exposition that frames Aquaman’s current state of mind, but using her in such a way does no favors to the character.
Scott Eaton’s pencils are up to the task in crafting the sleek sci-fi of Atlantean architecture and technology. One panel that shows Atlantean ships blasting at the Shaggy Man is cinematic in a space opera kind of way. These scenes underwater end too quick, which is unfortunate, as drawing these otherworldly locales play to Eaton’s strengths. The art fares less well in the land scenes, but the action is clean and easy to follow. The colors remain a bit too drab, and this is only highlighted once the action moves to the surface. The creative team as a whole concludes this issue on a strong note, however, and I am willing to stick around to see where they lead Aquaman and his band of merry Atlanteans.