Warning: potential spoilers for MERA: QUEEN OF ATLANTIS #6  and AQUAMAN #38 are below!

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AQUAMAN #38 brings the conclusion to the Atlantean Civil War with a climactic battle. The original team of Dan Abnett, Riccardo Federici, and Sunny Gho are back to bring this chapter of AQUAMAN to a close. This issue does a splendid job concluding the lengthy tale Abnett has created. Besides a clever twist connected to DARK NIGHTS: METALS, however, the issue doesn’t really pack many surprises. Luckily the impactful writing and the gorgeous art elevate this issue’s quality. While not a perfect conclusion, AQUAMAN #38 is a satisfying end to this particular story.

What We Want To See From DCEU’s AQUAMAN

Charge of the Seahorses

AQUAMAN #38 takes place after the events of MERA: QUEEN OF ATLANTIS. At the end of that storyline, Mera successfully attains the support of the Kingdom of Xebel.

In this issue, she rides in on a giant octopus with her Xebelian army. It’s a pretty typical trope in a fantasy war story; at the last moment, another force comes in to save the day and vanquish the enemies. However, it’s pretty fun to see Mera lead the charge.

AQUAMAN #38 page 9. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Over Abnett’s run, Mera has come such a long way in proving herself as a leader. It truly looks like she will be able to unite the seven seas into a progressive force capable of cooperating with humanity. The amount of attention Abnett has put towards Mera’s character is really impressive.

As far as the attack goes, it was actually pretty simple to defeat Corum Rath. In fact, Rath proved to be a pretty mediocre villain overall. It seems the whole point of his character was to serve as an excuse to put Mera on the throne. I still don’t understand the point of the mystic “Abyssal Dark” that Abnett set up in this arc. Hopefully, we’ll gain some more information in future AQUAMAN issues.

The Hero of Atlantis

AQUAMAN #38 page 7. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Mera isn’t the only character that’s had some interesting development. Arthur has experienced a roller coaster of events since the beginning of Abnett’s run in 2016. Aquaman lost the throne, became a secretive vigilante, and then the leader of a rebel army. Arthur has relinquished his role as king and become more of a civil servant to Atlantis — much as Batman is to Gotham.

Arthur is someone who doesn’t seek power. He never wanted the throne. However, his sense of responsibility drives him to fight for his people. Yet for so long Arthur has been met with failure after failure in his quest to save Atlantis.

Catch Up on Dan Abnett’s incredible AQUAMAN run on Comixology!

Surprisingly, the most emotional part of this comic book is between Dolphin and Arthur. Dolphin, a mute “tainted” Atlantean, looks up to Aquaman as a heroic savior. Arthur, realizing he has failed against Corum Rath, tells her:

“I’m sorry. Sorry I couldn’t be the hero you wanted me to be.”

Dolphin then holds his hand and rests on his chest. It’s a beautiful scene spread with emotion. At that moment you question whether Arthur may actually fail. In turn, Dolphin accepts Arthur despite his loss and silently assures him he’s still a hero, regardless of his failure.

There also seems to be some romantic seeds growing between Dolphin and Aquaman. The two were married for a while in the Pre-52 era. Is something going on between them, or is this just a friendly interaction? I hope it’s the latter. Nonetheless, this relationship surprised me by becoming the highlight of the issue.

Art in AQUAMAN #38

Riccardo Federici and Sunny Gho are still providing some of my favorite art in all of DC’s current lineup. It’s fitting that their style, which crafted the artistic tone for the Atlantean Civil War, would finish this series. It’s a grimier, more desaturated look at Atlantis, with still some of the fantastical glimmer that we love from the undersea kingdom. There’s a fair share of detailed blood, rubble, and energy beams coloring most of the battle scenes. In particular, Federici’s texturing is incredibly impressive. He really captures the different feels and looks of the underwater creatures.

AQUAMAN #38 page 11. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The art in AQUAMAN #38 isn’t as exciting as what we’ve seen in some of the previous issues, simply because it doesn’t have the same scale. The battles feel smaller and the kingdom not as mighty. Depicting a sufficient level of detail is difficult when the art becomes so expansive. Instead, Federici and Gho opted for smaller scale panels with wondrously intricate designs. With all this considered, Federici and Gho do a terrific job conveying the feel of Atlantis.

What Comes Next?

AQUAMAN #38 ends with a terrific cliffhanger, which I won’t spoil here. This is definitely the most interesting aspect (plotwise) of this issue. It’s a little frustrating that it took till the last page for this to occur. Still, I’m excited to see what Abnett plans to do next.

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AQUAMAN continues to stand as one of DC’s most consistent titles. As long as the team of Abnett, Federici, and Gho stay on, I’m completely on board to see what other stories rise from the depths of the ocean!

AQUAMAN #38 By Dan Abnett, Riccardo Federici, and Sunny Gho
AQUAMAN #38 provides a satisfying end to Dan Abnett's "Kingslayer" arc and the larger Corum Rath storyline. Some of the plotlines are predictable, but the underlying emotion and fantastic art makes for another awesome issue!
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