Wonder Woman not only co-starred in yesterday’s Aquaman Annual #2, she was actually in the book more than Aquaman himself. The issue began with Diana and Arthur investigating a castle in France to track down the giant-born, a group of powerful monsters disguised as humans. The story was fine, but somewhat underwhelming. There were a lot of references to past events and characters in Aquaman, which I am not at all up on, but that’s my problem and not all the fault of the book.
What didn’t quite work for me was the somewhat adversarial relationship between Diana and Arthur. For Justice League teammates, they didn’t get along very well. Their styles were very different, with Aquaman holding back while Wonder Woman wanted to go at the monsters full tilt, and this caused some tension. There was also a lot of distrust, and while under the thrall of one of the monsters they revealed the core of their problems: Wonder Woman thinks that Aquaman doesn’t care enough about the surface world and Aquaman sees Wonder Woman as a murdering goddess who thinks herself above humanity. They reconciled when the brawling was done, of course, with both understanding that they truly didn’t mean what they said while enchanted, but there seemed to be a bit of a core of honesty in their critiques of each other.
The fighting in the story was pretty fun, but Wonder Woman and Aquaman were sidelined for a lot of it due to a long, heroless introduction and then several pages where they’d been turned into stone. They were a good time when they were on the page, but that was only about half the story. When I got to the end, I was a little bit disappointed with the book.
Then I turned the page and there was another story! This time, Wonder Woman teamed up with Mera, and it was awesome the whole way through. Mera’s regal warrior mentality meshed well with Wonder Woman, and after the monsters refused their offers of diplomacy and mercy, both women realized that the creatures they faced were cruel monsters who needed to be destroyed. And so they did just that.
The ensuing brawl was well choreographed and exciting. Mera conjured water sharks to attack the monsters while Wonder Woman flipped her way through the horde, taking down creatures left and right. The finishing move was especially great. I loved the plan of Wonder Woman diving down to the bottom of the ocean to smash through to the lava below and Mera removing all the water under the creatures so they fell into the volcanic abyss. It was all sorts of cool.
But what really sold me on this story was the chemistry between Wonder Woman and Mera. With the Aquaman story, even though they knew each other well it all felt a little stiff and awkward, even before they revealed their deep, dark opinions of each other. Their battle styles weren’t complimentary, and the whole team-up seemed out of sync. With Mera, Wonder Woman didn’t know her well at all, yet they instantly connected and were on the same page, fighting side by side and working together with ease. It was an effortless partnership, and their instant camaraderie made the story a real pleasure to read.
Jeff Parker’s writing was solid throughout, though again I enjoyed what he did with the second story much more than the first. Superhero conflicts aside, the leadoff story was a bit too heavy on exposition and side characters for me. Yvel Guichet, Jason Gorder, and Wayne Faucher drew the first story, and I thought the art was decent. The monsters were gruesome and cool, and both heroes looked about right.
Alvaro Martinez and Raul Fernandez drew the second story, and they captured Wonder Woman and Mera very nicely. They also depicted the action and the finishing move in an exciting way that flowed well and was easy to follow, and throughout the story they elegantly displayed the strength and power of both heroes.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend this comic, especially if you’re a Wonder Woman fan. She’s the real star of the book; Aquaman and Mera each get half the issue, but Wonder Woman is in the entire thing. Aquaman Annual #2 is in comic shops and online now, and while it’s priced at $4.99 the page count is much higher and you get almost twice the story of a regular comic book.