Writers: Kelly Sue DeConnick & Vita AyalaArtist: Victor Ibanez Colorist: Jay David RamosLetters: Clayton Cowles
Ever since I was a kid Aquaman has been my favorite superhero. This didn’t necessarily make me the coolest kid in the world, but clearly I was ahead of my time. He’s starred in a billion dollar movie and his comics are some of the best on the shelves. Aquaman Annual #2 is no exception. Kelly Sue DeConnick & Vita Ayala tell a charming story that plays out like a bottle episode of a TV show. I love Annual issues because whatever is going on in the main book (A LOT), it gives the writers an opportunity to slow down and tell a standalone story. This gives the reader an opportunity to step back from a big plot and just enjoy themselves. The entire issue takes place in Amnesty Bay after the Legion Of Doom’s symbol has filled the skies across the world. The citizens of the bay are on edge, but they have Aquaman and Aqualad (Jackson Hyde) there to keep the peace. DeConnick & Ayala really do an excellent job bringing Arthur’s voice alive. He’s not a king anymore, but you can still see how much a leader he is. I feel like often times writers present Arthur as a tortured soul trying to be a king, but now he’s accepted where he’s at and he’s just a powerful man that wants to be a light for other people. This issue also gives us some insight into how the old gods are getting along with the villagers. There are obviously some growing pains that go along with having immortal deities living in your town. We also get a great story about Arthur’s dog salty. I won’t spoil that one, but it didn’t go where I thought it would. DeConnick & Ayala go out of their way to show the effect Arthur has on those around him, and I couldn’t be happier with the direction they are taking this character. I also want to shout out their choice to bring Jackson Hyde into the fold (a few issues ago). I love that he’s with Arthur and learning what it takes to have the Aqua name. I’m always a fan of seeing a hero with the same skin color I do. Representation is important and Jackson would’ve made a big difference to me 15 years ago when I was a kid. I’m glad I get to read about him now. The pacing of this issue is perfect. There are surprises, scares, and genuine sweet moments. Victor Ibanez and Jay David Ramos do a beautiful job bringing these characters to life. The sky is dark Amnesty Bay and it’s an image that looms large in every panel. The last page of this issue is a gorgeous example of what this art team is able to do. If I have the opportunity to buy that page I’ll take it. The lettering is perfect. The reason for this is the incredible Clayton Cowles. He’s a busy man and we are all the better because of it. I also want to say Sea Daddy is a thing now. He’s canon, and I couldn’t be happier with that choice. It’s clear the Legion Of Doom is going to have a major impact on the universe, but this incredible team gave us all a moment to slow down, breathe, and enjoy the little town that is Amnesty Bay.