Comic Reviews: Aquaman and Hardcore!
Aquaman #43 (DC Comics)
Aquaman’s got a big budget movie coming out this week, which means that DC is hoping to have some fabled “new readers” coming into their local comic shops after their trip to the multiplex. To meet that, DC has a new creative team and a new direction on Aquaman, with famed writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist Robson Rocha drawing the panels. While this new start is a bit of a drastic change for someone like me who’s read Aquaman since the New 52 relaunch, there’s enough here to keep me reading to see how it all shakes out.
Following the events of the “Drowned Earth” storyline, Arthur Curry has washed up on shore on a mysterious island, with no memory of who he is and how he got there. Forging a new life on the island with its residents, the new stranger by the name of “Andy” is making his way through the day, helping where he can. But when the sorceress Caille nearly drowns during a ritual, it’s become clear that the man once known as Aquaman will need to descend into the depths once more.
Kelly Sue DeConnick’s script is a pretty big departure from Aquaman stories of the past few years. There’s very little action in this issue, and we only see Arthur in costume for a brief flashback. Usually this kind of change would be a big turn off for a series like Aquaman, but it’s really refreshing here. DeConnick’s script is pretty introspective, but also gives this series a real epic scope that fits the character really well. DeConnick really digs into the headspace of Arthur Curry, and makes him seem really conflicted about his life in a way that’s very engaging. After so much fighting, it’s no surprise that Aquaman may prefer the life he’s built on this island.
Robson Rocha has long been one of the most underrated artists in DC’s stable, but with Aquaman there’s a good chance that he’ll be moving up to the big leagues. Like DeConnick’s script, Rocha’s art gives this issue a mythical epic feel that elevates the issue to a different level. While there’s not a lot of action in this issue, Rocha’s art makes up for it with some truly great splash pages. He even makes the waves crashing on the rocks of the island look epic.
In a lot of ways Aquaman #43 reminds me of Kurt Busiek’s short-lived Sword of Atlantis reboot for the character that occurred in the mid-2000’s. As much as I enjoyed the Aquaman series for the past few years, it was due for a shot in the arm like this. DC could have gone the big, bombastic way to get new readers intrigued in this series, but I applaud them for going the opposite way with this, and I’m excited to see what DeConnick and Rocha have planned for the King of Atlantis.
Hardcore #1 (Image Comics)
What if secret agents were able to take over a target’s body to help accomplish their missions? That’s the premise behind Hardcore, a brand new Image series from Andy Diggle and Alessandro Vitti. While it’s yet another sci-fi book from the indie publisher, the Altered Carbon meets James Bond pitch is so cool that it’ll definitely leave an impression on even the most seasoned sci-fi reader.
Agent Drake has been a “Drone Pilot” for some time now, except the drones he pilots aren’t small machines, they’re people. Drake’s agency targets associates close to the main subject he’s going after, and after injecting them with a small nanite, he’s able to take over their bodies and complete his missions. But when a former teammate betrays him, will he be able to escape to his regular body before the 72 hour limit on the nanite runs out?
Andy Diggle’s script starts at 11 and doesn’t let up at all. In the best way, Hardcore reads like a crazy Summer action movie, and even the exposition portions of the book don’t slow this first issue down. Diggle has really thought of every question a reader might have about this series and addresses them in a really fun way, and I’m legitimately excited to see what happens in the next issue.
Alessandro Vitti’s art adds to the action-packed issue, delivering some truly bloody and brutal panel sequences here. There’s not a wasted panel (or bullet) throughout the whole issue, it’s truly a thing of gory beauty. This issue is not for the faint of heart, but it is for people who like their comics with a little extra dose of blood.
Hardcore is definitely an action lover’s dream comic, and in a lot of ways, it’s the book I wish Die! Die! Die! Was. It’s got a really solid hook, a compelling main character, and feels like it’s the type of thing you’re destined to see adapted on the big screen. Seek it out.