Sunday, 24 June 2018

Aquaman/Jabberjaw Special #1 - DC Comics

Relying upon a number of in-jokes based upon Steven Spielberg’s 1975 American thriller film “Jaws”, the start to Dan Abnett’s script for this “legitimately considered part of the Aquaman canon” crossover must have had many of its 21,088 readers smirking away to themselves quite merrily. For whilst the frequency of the comic cast’s “What. The. F--” exclamations appears disconcertingly out of place within the narrative of a “brand new Hanna-Barbera” publication, the thirty-page periodical’s astounding similar beginning to that of “one of the greatest films ever made” proves a superbly written homage to “the prototypical summer blockbuster”, especially when a handful of panels later Officer Erika Watson’s lunch-time conversation regarding “recent shark attacks” is interrupted by a diner employee ‘innocently’ screeching “the new specials” on the restaurant’s black board in chalk…  

Sadly however, once these similarities fade, and the action moves away from Amnesty Bay to Los Aquales, “one of the biggest cities in Aqualand”, the British-born author’s innovation seemingly dries up, resulting in a disappointingly unimaginative adventure involving the Neptunes pop band discovering a clichéd criminal who is determined to ensure “people will never trust the sea enough to start living in it!” This plodding plot, which amongst other ingredients contains a giant mechanical sea-bed based shark, may well have proved entirely suitable for an episode of the Seventies “Saturday morning animated series”, but when written “for the stoic and serious tone of Abnett’s Aquaman”, which palatably ‘kicks in’ once the titular characters arrive at “the future undersea utopia”, provides little in the way of either enthralling engagement or entertainment. Certainly, it’s hard to take any script seriously when its central villain ends up in an “I am too” argument with Arthur Curry over whether he can use the moniker Ocean Master...

“A Bigger Beat” is though happily blessed with some excellent pencilling by Paul Pelletier, who brings a distinctly realistic look to Joe Ruby’s “air-breathing, anthropomorphic great white shark”. Quite literally towering over the “Human-Atlantean Hybrid”, the well-animated Jabberjaw is undoubtedly the star attraction of this comic, and is only momentarily bested when the American artist sketches a frenzied shoal of “ultra-aggressive”, red-eyed sharks, which come dangerously close to chomping Aquaman in half with their formidably sharp-toothed maws; “Can you believe it? They mistook me for a killer shark! Hyuk-yuk-yuk! I’m not. By the way.”

Such praise though cannot unfortunately be heaped upon Scott Kolins’ illustration work for this comic’s secondary tale, “Captain Caveman!”, a stupefying surreal eight-pager which depicts the wizard Shazam winning a bet over the Spectre that heroism is not “a relatively recent trait” by transporting “an offshoot of Neanderthal” to the modern world and granting the hairy primate the gift of speech “so you can begin to understand this world.” Roughly drawn with its somewhat awkwardly angular figures, Jeff Parker’s incarnation of "Cavey" is regrettably a far cry from television writer Ken Spears' lovable “prehistoric caveman… thawed from a block of ice”, even if he does have him besting monsters, Manhunters, Nazis and even winning a baking tournament..?

‘First published on the "Dawn of Comics" website.'
The regular cover art of "AQUAMAN/JABBERJAW SPECIAL" No. 1 by Paul Pelletier & Gabe Eltaeb

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