The key to making Aquaman a compelling concept lies under the sea, and stories that focus on Atlantis and other underwater communities (like Sub Diego, a sunken section of San Diego) bring out the best in Aquaman creators. After 24 issues that spent far too much time on land, writer Dan Abnett has reworked the series as an urban fantasy, exploring the Atlantean underworld as Aquaman gives up his royal mantle to take on a new identity in the slums. The new direction comes with a new artist, Stjepan Sejic, and new editor, Andy Khouri, and the book has experienced a significant upswing in quality as it beefs up the supporting cast, creates a tangled web of political intrigue, and reveals a more vulnerable lead character.
And it’s so pretty. As both artist and colorist, Sejic carries a lot of storytelling responsibility, and he’s been forced to refine his digital artwork to keep on the book’s monthly schedule while also drawing one-off issues of Suicide Squad. His characters have distinct designs and animated expressions, and he creates a lush environment that takes advantage of how light filters through water for truly spectacular visuals. The big two-page spread in this exclusive preview of this week’s Aquaman #29 offers a peek at the glowing cityscape in its first panel, and Sejic uses vibrant coloring to intensify the impact of Tempest’s magic attack.
The composition of that image gives the impression of a three-dimensional space as the magic pushes away the Atlantean sorcerers, and Steve Wands’ lettering reinforces that by placing part of the sound effect behind a character. Sejic is spending less time on rendering, but he’s prioritizing color contrast and panel layouts to create atmosphere, drama, and motion. Dan Abnett does his best work when he’s paired with artists who are have their own specific style, and he’s crafted a story that plays to Sejic’s strengths and enriches the series in new, exciting ways.