Sunday, April 13, 2008

I don't normally do negative reviews, but i had high hopes for this one. My problems with this one are philosophical, really. The skill and craft of the people involved are not in question. They're good.

Aqua Leung
volume one
by Mark Smith and Paul Maybury
published by Image Comics

For this one i've got mixed feelings. It's an imaginative world. I read it straight through without setting it down once, so it drew me in. There are definitely some cool moments. I like the one arrow in the middle of a white page to signify the start of one huge battle. The art--brushwork and colors--are quite good.

What i didn't like was the sense of destiny. I really don't like destiny. It's very unheroic. Aqua, the titular character here, doesn't make any decisions. He's essentially kidnapped and taken to Atlantis, then trained against his will to fulfill a prophecy he knows nothing about. At some point he gives in and goes along with it. He never chooses anything for himself. What's his motivation? Why should i root for this guy?

The narrative is told to us by the Millennium Turtle. But first he needs to introduce himself, and tell us that he knows everything that ever has happened and everything that ever will happen, and nothing can change what will happen. So the dramatic tension is cut out from under us before the story even gets started. Everything is going to work out the way it's supposed to, b/c it has to happen that way. Again, that is entirely unheroic. What's heroic about being a cog in some cosmic machine? If that's how this universe works, then tell me about who/whatever wrote Fate, because they're the only real person in the story.

Apparently Aqua is going to get a series of mentors to help him prepare for each of his successive conquests. So he won't even be learning his own lessons, he'll have them handed to him. Now he's even less heroic.

And we aren't even told why it's a good thing that Aqua will conquer and "unite" all the kingdoms of the sea (that's the prophecy). Are they all ruled by bad guys, but he's gonna be a good guy? We might assume this, but he's told that his growing power will corrupt him (and since we know we're in a deterministic universe here, there's no reason not to believe it). So he'll be a corrupt ruler of all he surveys. Why should i root for that?

One last peeve. Aqua, though scion of Atlantis, is sent, Moses-style, to live in another land (ours), and raised by a kindly couple named Leung. They get killed early on and forgotten about. Later, Aqua kneels at the tomb of his Atlantean father, and says how much he misses him and wishes he had been able to know him. You see, that's his "real" dad, not the guy who raised him. That's malarkey. The one who raises you is your real parent. The other one is just a genetic contributor. Oh wait, this is all about destiny, so i guess that includes genetic destiny. So love and caring aren't important, it's all in the legacy. Gotcha. (We don't see his genetic mom's tomb, so i guess the moms don't matter when you're a predestined conqueror.)