It's not often that the follow-up is even better than the original, but Aquaman's next arc might just break the mold.
Spoilers incoming for Aquaman #25, so if you haven't read it yet you've been warned.
Dan Abnett's Aquaman run has had it all. From superhero throwdowns to political machinations, the book has delivered an all-encompassing look at what it means to be King of Atlantis. For his next act, Abnett is exploring the other side of Arthur Curry, one who despite not having a crown still bears the weight of protecting his city.
Arthur is no longer a King, but instead closer to a shadow or myth. He helps where he can, as most of the world believes him dead. This gives Abnett a wonderful canvas to explore other aspects of Arthur's personality. He's still the compassionate King fans know and love, but he's got much more of an edge to him, clearly frustrated with how the city he loves turned on him, putting a tyrant in charge.
Abnett will no doubt explore this resentment further, but even in this first issue, the strands are there. While of course the focal point, Arthur isn't the only interesting case study, as Mera, Vulko, and Murk all offer opportunities for growth, both in their characters and in regards to the narrative.
This book wouldn't be nearly as good though without the stunning artwork of Stjepan Sejic. Sejic brings a true awe to this undersea kingdom and an edge to its dethroned hero. Aquaman has received a bit of a grunge makeover, but it feels organic to the story the book is telling as opposed to something forced for a headline.
Sejic's lush hues are able to deliver stunning visuals that still convey the dourness of the Ninth Tride, and how far this city has fallen under Rath's rule. A place has never looked so beautiful yet seemed so downtrodden.
Aquaman #25 delivers a promising new direction for the series while still utilizing the solid foundation of the previous arcs. There's nothing not to love here, and if you've been waiting to jump on board, your wait is over.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars.
Aquaman #25 is written by Dan Abnett with art by Stjepan Sejic and a variant cover by Joshua Middleton. The official description is listed below, and a preview can be found in the gallery.
"UNDERWORLD" part one! In this extra-sized anniversary issue, former terrorists have replaced the Atlantean police. Crime lords control huge swaths of the kingdom. And a deadly undersea arsenal is trained on the surface-dwellers. All is as King Rath commands—and yet whispers persist of a rebel in the slums of Atlantis: A hero with the potential to change the world. A whole new era of AQUAMAN begins as master storyteller Stjepan Sejic (Sunstone, Death Vigil) joins series writer Dan Abnett for Arthur's boldest and most harrowing adventure yet!
Aquaman #25 is in comic shops now.