For the uninitiated (like myself, until Brent clued me in) Justice League Beyond is a digital-only series available on DCComics.com. And as you can see in the previous paragraph, it's already up to it's tenth issue! I need to go outside more.
So without further ado, here's Brent on this Aqua-centric issue of Justice League Beyond:
Howdy Aqua-fans--I'm extremely excited to be writing my very first post for The Shrine, as well as my very first comic review! I can normally be found writing about trendy toys and toddler tantrums over at Designer Daddy.
In case you're unfamiliar with Justice League Beyond, it's a digital-only comic set in the future, alongside Batman of the future, Terry McGinnis, first introduced in the animated series Batman Beyond. After a little poking around, I found that JLB and the digital-only Batman Beyond are being compiled into 48-page print comics called Batman Beyond Unlimited. Each one seems to feature a couple of the digital chapters from each story. It looks like this chapter will be in BBU #7, on sale August 27. Confused yet? I know I am.
Aaaaanyhoo, this futuristic Justice League consists of the McGinnis Batman, a silver-sideburned Superman, Big Barda, and future versions of Hawkman (Warhawk), Green Lantern (small, floating bald guy), and of course Aquagirl. This version of Aquagirl is Marina, originally featured in a couple of episodes of the animated Batman Beyond.
JLB #10 takes us out of the current story line in order to showcase the origin of Aquagirl. While many of the previous issues featured Aquagirl, it was always sparingly, so this was a welcome surprise! And quite an origin story it is, mashing up several different Aquaman continuities and throwing in some new stuff as well.
Marina is the second-born child of Atlantis' king and queen, Arthur and Mera. This Aquaman wears the classic orange and green costume, but sports the long hair and beard (and grumpiness) of Peter David's 90s run. Prior to Marina's arrival, Arthur and his first born* are kidnapped by Uncle Orm, whose sights are set on Atlantis' throne. But Arthur uses the "A" from his belt to saw off his own hand and free himself and junior (a much more heroic explanation for the missing hand than a bunch of disobedient piranhas, if you ask me).
In keeping with traditionally tragic Aqua-origins, shortly after Marina's birth she is then kidnapped by Granny Goodness to be raised on Apokolips as one of the dreaded Furies. Orion assists Aquaman in the successful rescue of infant Marina, but from this experience Arthur becomes even more protective, bordering on obsessive (I might too, had both my children been abducted). This of course leads a sheltered, teenage Ariel--I mean Marina--to repeatedly rebel, venturing in secret to the surface world.
On one of her adventures she rescues Warhawk from Kanjar Ro. Marina falls in love with Warhawk** and ultimately joins up with the Justice League, much to the chagrin of her father. Kal-El pays a personal visit to his old teammate, reassuring Aquaman he'll look after Marina. But as Aquagirl begins her adventures with the League, she leaves behind a bitter father to whom she hasn’t spoken to since.
I found the artwork (James Brouwer) and story (Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen) very Disney-like, but not in a bad way. Very classic, very gorgeous, and very straightforward--which I don't mind at all. Modern storylines tend to be overly complicated, but this felt both familiar and fresh.
The previous nine issues are also worth checking out. They include the same writing team, but feature art by either Dustin Nguyen or (I assume) his brother Eric Nguyen. The plot is (of course) an epic tale of betrayal and intrigue, with threats spanning from Kobra to Apokolips! Maybe if Rob likes this review, he'll let me tell you more about those…
*They never mention him by name, but I assume it's Arthur, Jr.
**Warhawk's origin is told in JLB #s 7 and 8.
Note: If you've never ventured into digital comic territory, I highly recommend it. I was skeptical at first, but I’ve really come to enjoy the ability to view each panel individually (as well as full pages) with just a double tap. It adds to the anticipation of the story, allowing you to really focus on a single frame, and the artwork and story within. It also seems to make the story last longer. And the end is always a surprise as I don't have the pages in my hand telling me I'm almost done. In addition, this title is uniquely presented horizontally which lends itself to the tablet format quite nicely.