Written by: Laura Hong-Tuason, CC2K Comics Editor
Since the New 52, the Justice League title has been mediocre at best. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its moment. The art has been consistently wonderful, but it was the story that never seemed to go anywhere. As much fun as the bantering and bickering was between the Justice League members, empty dialogue and action produce only one-dimensional characters. The Throne of Atlantis crossover with Aquaman changes all that, bringing the Justice League several notches up.
Justice League #15-17
Writer: Geoff Johns
Illustrators: Ivan Reis, Paul Pelletier
Throne of Atlantis begins with Aquaman inquiring his brother King Orm as to whether he had taken the powerful scepter of the first King of Atlantis for some sinister agenda. Orm denies having the scepter and before parting ways, claims he loves his brother and would do him no harm. But when missiles from the surface is set off on Atlantis, Orm attacks major coastal cities like Gotham, Metropolis, and Boston. Seeing as there must be some misunderstanding, Aquaman attempts to hold Orm at bay, only for things to spiral out of control and leave hundreds dead. Stuck in the middle, will Aquaman’s allegiance lie with the surface or with Atlantis? If only the answer were that easy.
Suffice to say the war does end. That’s no spoiler. Wars have to end. Throne of Atlantis wasn’t the most jaw-dropping story, but it was still a pretty good one. Let me tell you why.
First off it had great pacing, completing its run within three months while providing double doses of action each month in Justice League and Aquaman. Geoff Johns wasted no time telling the story. There was a nice balance between background information and story progression, leaving no room for annoying fillers.
Unlike previous Justice League issues, there is a sense of character development. While mostly focused on Aquaman, we’re finally getting more out of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg. Batman isn’t as heartless and domineering as originally portrayed. He can be reasoned with, as demonstrated by the unique relationship between him and Aquaman. We also have Superman and Wonder Woman, who find solace in each other’s company. Now I don’t care for this story, but it’s something. Finally there’s Cyborg, whose sheer determination to save the League at the cost of his own life is astounding. Sure the development is marginal, but it’s enough to move the Justice League one step forward.
What really seals this story of course is Aquaman. His plight is tragic, being torn between two worlds: the surface and Atlantis. Though he has been depicted as stern, serious, and at times selfish in both the Justice League and Aquaman titles, he’s actually quite hard on himself. He is conflicted with how to set things right, putting a lot of weight on his shoulders, refusing help, and believing he is at fault for all the trouble that has erupted. Though Aquaman means well, it’s ironic that he only makes things worse.
The conclusion to the Throne of Atlantis was satisfying and I can honestly say I was surprised by the revelations. As expected from Johns, the ending was met with an emotional, heartfelt confrontation between the two Atlantean brothers that will have you asking, “Why can’t we all just get along?” But being a comic book, we’ll have to be content with how things turned out for the time being. All in all, there really were no winners based on the circumstances and how you look at it. One thing for sure, Aquaman will have to live with the consequences.
Turning to the art, Ivan Reis and Paul Pelletier did a superb job. Some pages by Reis appeared rush, but I found the splash pages to be amazing. Others may say such pages were chaotic and cluttered with no central focus, but I like to think that’s the point. War is full of chaos. I was never thrown off by Pelletier’s illustrations either. Occasionally art can take away from a story, but not with Pelletier. I briefly forgot it wasn’t Reis who had art duties on Aquaman, making way for a great experience.
Overall, the story ended with much promise, leaving Justice League, Aquaman, and the new Justice League of America ripe with future stories. If I had to give Throne of Atlantis a rating, I’d give it a 4 out of 5.
Author: Laura Hong-Tuason, CC2K Comics Editor
Laura is a writer from the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently resides in Southern California. She drinks too much milk tea, talks too much about Green Lantern, and would marry Barry Allen if he were real.