Review by Will Morgan
Following Atlantis’ fleeting but memorable invasion of the surface world in Throne of Atlantis, the United Nations are refusing to recognize Atlantis as a nation, or Aquaman as its king, leaving our hero scrambling to pick up the pieces. This is both diplomatically and literally, insofar as Atlantean weaponry, abandoned by the retreating troops, is surfacing worldwide. Falling into the hands of terrorists and criminals, it damages Altantis’ reputation further, a position Justice League liaison Amanda Waller is only too eager to make clear.
The bulk of the narrative hinges around the discovery of the inaccurately-named Dead King, the near-mythical founder of Atlantis, and of the other undersea kingdoms, the identity of one of them coming as quite the surprise.
Aquaman’s troubles are heavier because he’s having to face them without Mera. who has returned to her native watery realm of Xebel, and met with her estranged fiancé Nereus, King of the Second Sea – who, unluckily for her, isn’t willing to accept the engagement’s over. Her unfinished business – including the original agenda of her mission to Atlantis – is dealt with, but Nereus sets his own agenda in motion, and obligingly supplies this volume’s cliffhanger, to be continued in Sea of Storms.
The practice of re-introducing new versions of old characters is taken to a somewhat mocking extreme here, as we get to meet Topo – in a former incarnation, Aquaman’s octopus pet, but in this iteration – well, let’s just say he’s quite a bit less cuddly and leave it at that.
Former artist Ivan Reis is replaced this time by Paul Pelletier, who steps admirably into the role, using the epic undersea settings to good effect, and maintaining the visual drama to the standard we’ve now become accustomed to.
Ten bonus pages give us character sketches for the Dead King and for the secondary villains Scavenger and Swatt, various rough cover concepts, and wraparound and ‘Mad’ variant covers.