Jeff Parker’s run on Aquaman has turned the title into one of DC’s most engaging superhero series, combining lush underwater fantasy and political intrigue with lots of action that pits the titular character against monsters from the deep. Parker has fleshed out the book’s supporting cast and delved deep into Arthur Curry’s character—Aquaman’s high school reunion in issue #28 does exceptional work in that regard—but he hasn’t sacrificed any thrills as he explores different aspects of Atlantis and the people that inhabit it.
“Maelstrom” is Parker’s biggest arc yet on Aquaman, dealing with the mystery of what really happened to Arthur’s mother, Atlanna, whom he always presumed to be dead after hearing stories about her assassination. Last month’s issue ended with the reveal that Atlanna’s tomb was empty, and in this week’s Aquaman #36, Arthur invites J’onn J’onnz, the telepathic Martian Manhunter, under the sea to conduct an investigation. Parker is a writer that can find an intriguing angle for just about any character (his current Flash Gordon title is doing outstanding things with the classic pulp hero), and bringing J’onn, an underappreciated character in the New 52, back to his detective roots in Aquaman shows that Parker knows exactly what makes these concepts interesting.
The other key component of Aquaman is the art team of Paul Pelletier, inker Sean Parsons, and colorist Rain Beredo, who have done remarkable work realizing this book’s fantasy-inspired visuals. Pelletier’s art is heavily reminiscent of the great Alan Davis in the way it presents bombastic superhero visuals that are grounded in realistic detail and nuanced character expression, and this preview of Aquaman #36 spotlights Pelletier’s skill with character and environmental design, as well as conveying how these figures move through the underwater setting. It’s a slick book that reads as well as it looks, and “Maelstrom” is turning up the intensity to make it even more exciting.