Aquaman: Deep Dives #2
Written by Michael Grey
Art by Aaron Lopresti, Matt Ryan and Hi-Fi
Lettering by Wes Abbott
Published by DC
‘Rama Rating: 4 out of 10
For most readers out there, a team-up between Aquaman and the Sea Devils wouldn’t normally be cause for celebration, and unfortunately for us, Aquaman: Deep Dives #2 doesn’t do anything that would cause most fans to change their minds. While there’s nothing outwardly offensive about this self-contained story, there’s also very little to make it stand out, and that dullness keeps Deep Dives from ever really hitting its stride.
Given his series’ usual focus on royal intrigue, the idea of Aquaman being an environmental crusader isn’t necessarily a bad thing – but if writer Michael Grey trips up anywhere with Arthur Curry, it’s that he doesn’t go nearly far enough with this theme to give his protagonist a distinct point of view. He instead has to “both sides” the debate, as the gun-toting Sea Devils and the murderously mutated wildlife draw just as much concern from Aquaman as the ship illegally dumping radioactive chemicals into the Black Sea. To be honest, while Grey tries to lampshade Arthur’s guilt for not recognizing this problem until it was too late, it can’t help but stretch the limits of disbelief that the King of the Seven Seas would let a problem like this fester so long.
Unfortunately, beyond these macro-level story problems, there’s also some issues with the page-to-page storytelling, as well. One glaring example is when a fight sequence cuts out mid-panel, only to pick up to the aftermath “five minutes later” on the next page – it’s the sort of misstep that screams “back to formula,” given that Grey has to burn so many pages on the Sea Devils at the expense of the title character or even the narrative around him. But even small details can’t help but take readers out of the story, such as Aquaman’s dialogue inconsistently bouncing between faux archaic (“I’m ashamed I’ve neglected this corner of my realm”) to weirdly slangy (“Gotta be a way to make something good out of this whole fiasco”).
A longtime DC veteran, artist Aaron Lopresti keeps this issue afloat with his classic artwork – although that said, one can’t help but wonder if a flashier artist might have been able to elevate a choppy script through more interesting visuals. Lopresti does his best work when he’s actually given the ability to follow through on an action sequence, and his portrayal of a monstrous angler fish exudes far more personality than his middle-of-the-road human characters, particularly his nondescript take on the Sea Devils’ design. Hi-Fi’s colors help give this issue some much-needed vibrance, particularly with the underwater scenes – like Lopresti’s art, it’s not going to reinvent the character, but you could do worse than solid and unobtrusive work.
That’s probably damning Aquaman: Deep Dives with faint praise, but the story does read like a first draft that probably should have been workshopped significantly before bringing an art team on board. Artist Aaron Lopresti keeps this issue from sinking too dramatically, but the result is purely disposable action featuring a purely forgettable team-up. Unless you’re a Sea Devils completist, there’s no need to pick up this watered-down Aquaman adventure.