If you are not reading Aquaman, you should be. That may sound cliched, but it's true. The trade paperback collection for the first story arc, Aquaman Volume 1: The Trench releases in September, if you need to catch up.
Aquaman #8, "The Others: Chapter Two", is Aquaman at his best. I've been very selective in what I read by Geoff Johns, so I don't think I've been disappointed by him yet. I'm reading Aquaman based on what he's done with Hal Jordan and Green Lantern. I'm not a fan of bringing Barry Allen back from the dead, so I passed on The Flash: Rebirth and Flashpoint. As far as I'm concerned, Barry Allen made the ultimate sacrifice during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. I'm not a fan of what Johns had been doing with Superboy-Prime and Infinite Crisis, but Jim Lee and George Perez's art was spectacular. Amazing, but still with a sour after-taste. All that aside, I'm really enjoying his take on Aquaman.
His story in issue #8 opens six years ago. Which I read as "Then". DC's approach to character background, on a sliding timeline leaves a lot to be desired. I'd rather go with a "past" and "present" approach rather than fixing a hard and fast timeline in stone. Six years ago, Aquaman was grieving the loss of his father. An cabal of reporters show up on his lighthouse doorstep. Surrounded by memories and flashbacks of moments with his father, Arthur's inner turmoil builds and builds. Outside, Dr. Shin tries to push his way through the crowd to get close to Arthur to apologize. Enraged, Arthur tells the reporters that he is different and leaves, apparently heading back to Atlantis, abandoning his father's home. A year later he returns, changed.
In the present, Mera is trying to process this new information about her husband. That he had a secret life, with The Others, and possibly Ya'Wara, that she knew nothing about. It is funny to see the expressions that Ivan Reis puts to Arthur and Mera's faces during the exchange as he and Ya'Wara are explaining The Others and their relationships. Ya'Wara says that they had a "connection". Mera's face is blank. Startled, Aquaman says it was "a telepathic one". Mera's expression doesn't change. She only says, "Not better."
I feel the need to catch up a little on Dr. Shin. I feel I missed a page or two on him and why no one trusts him. I may have read to fast or skimmed over something important. Ya'wara believes that he sold them all out to Black Manta and that is why Kahina is dead. After she and Arthur leave to investigate The Seer's murder, Mera demands that Shin explain everything about his connection to Black Manta and every thing about The Others.
Seeing Kahina's body brings back the memory of The Others chasing Black Manta near a Siberian village six years earlier. An avalanche would have destroyed the village and killed everyone in it. Aquaman was the only one who wanted to keep after Manta. The rest of the group stopped to save lives. Reluctantly, Aquaman saves a little girl. It appears that this is the moment when he parts ways with the group. Now, Arthur is left simply to reminisce over Kahina's lifeless body. Until he and Ya'Wara are attacked by Manta's army.
While in Germany, the Manta has found another.
This is an Aquaman that is finally catching my attention. I read some of the "Sub-Diego" storyline, including the "One Year Later" stuff by Will Pfieffer a few years ago, and it just didn't work for me.Neither did the costume change in the '80's, the harpoon hand, or the blue hand. Aquaman has found his signature writer and artist. I'm hoping for a long-haul by Johns and Reis on Aquaman. I like what they are doing with the character.
If you thought Aquaman was a joke, give the book a try. I think you might change your mind. You might end up saying to someone, If you're NOT reading Aquaman, you SHOULD be. And it won't sound like a cliche.