Writer Ram V (These Savage Shores, Swamp Thing) and artist Christian Ward (Invisible Kingdom, Blood-Stained Teeth) return to their voyage to the bottom of the ocean in Aquaman Andromeda Book 2. Featuring letters from Aditya Bidikar, this 2nd chapter builds upon the sense of unease that grew throughout the first book, while getting us closer to the human cast and their individual stories. With a measured, increasingly intense script and incredible visual work, this chapter continues to present a vision of DC’s ocean as only V and Ward on a Black Label comic can.
“When an underwater explosion rocks the crew of the Andromeda, Aquaman comes to their rescue, but the damage has already been done. The explosion has damaged the ship’s core and unleashed a sickness that will threaten everyone on board. But as tensions flare, Black Manta makes his move—it’s information he’s after, but what do ancient aliens have to do with Atlantis?”
Writing & Plot
Ram V ups the sense of mystery and tension as our scientists reach the alien artifact on the ocean floor in Aquaman Andromeda #2. This chapter continues the trend of fascinating undersea cosmic horror, with a continual focus on character and a growing sense of mythical wonder. The science team makes it aboard the alien craft, only to be greeted by the structure’s insidious true secret – and absolute disaster. Isolated, sick, and effectively stuck, their problems worsen when it’s revealed they’ve been followed – not just by the King of the Sea, Aquaman himself, but Black Manta. Ram V digs a bit further into this Black Label story’s version of Aquaman, and Atlantis itself as a sort of unfathomable force on the sea floor. This is a chapter that is every bit as wonderous and awe inspiring as it is imposing.
As stellar a piece of myth-making and cosmic horror storytelling as Andromeda is, one of the major components to its success is how Ram still makes time to focus on the cast of characters. There are a couple sequences in this issue that focus on two members of the crew. They’re both flashbacks showing key moments in their lives that directly impact how they react to a major discovery (spoiler) later in the comic. These flashbacks fit naturally into the issue’s structure, lending context and background to the cast. Aquaman himself is still a mysterious, almost mythic figure in this story, and it is absolutely fascinating seeing this depiction of the King of Atlantis. Surprisingly, Black Manta’s portrayal is true to form with his in-continuity counterpart. This isn’t a negative by any means, as he is as intimidating as ever. Just based on how this comic has turned much of the Aquaman lore upside down, it’s reasonable to expect a more unconventional approach to the iconic aquatic supervillain. On the whole, this is an impeccably paced and fascinating script from Ram V, true to form for one of the most acclaimed writers in the industry at present.
All of this book’s murky horror atmosphere and visions of alien wonder in Aquaman Andromeda #2 are thanks to the visual talent of artist Christian Ward. The Invisible Kingdom artist crafts an experience that takes readers to the subaquatic darkness with incredible animations and wholly unique designs for the set pieces and technology encountered in this comic. Rarely does a comic book have the sense of motion that Andromeda does, with the liquid environments swirling past as the sub and the divers swim by. Ward’s design for Aquaman continues to be a delightfully eldritch departure from his classic look, while his adherence to Black Manta’s classic design still offers some new elements to behold. Never has the villain ever looked quite so menacing, with his iconic black helmet and red eyes creating a truly alien-feeling threat via Ward’s unique style. There’s a really cool moment where Manta switches on his Predator-like active camouflage while swimming and it looks *awesome. * Ward’s designs and visual approach to the undersea ruin of this mysterious ship still proves to be beautiful and ominous – if not flat out alive. One sequence in particular sees Ward crafting an unfathomable new terror from what almost looks like waves of light, and he still makes it into something serenely beautiful.
His sequencing and blocking carry the story’s pacing perfectly. The large panels give readers a view of the ocean and the ornate mysterious structure give way to carefully paid out smaller shots focusing on detail and character. The blocking here is mostly straight-forward, but pulled off in a manner that is so clean and thoughtful that it has to be appreciated. Aditya Bidikar’s lettering is stellar as always, with a rather simplistic approach to Andromeda’s text. His dialogue letters have a neat, contemporary style to them with bolds and italics that nail natural speech. The narration itself is again presented like a digital journal, with a cursor ahead of the plan type-face font. It’s simple, refined work from one of the best letterers in the business. Overall, this is yet again another immersive and gorgeous comic with a dense, threatening atmosphere.
Aquaman Andromeda #2 is an engrossing continuation of this Black Label superhero comic turned cosmic mystery/horror. Ram V’s script once again mixes unnerving and unique concepts with intimate character storytelling to craft a script that is deeply engaging in every aspect. The visuals from Christian Ward suck the readers down into the deep with wondrous and creepy approach to design, murky yet stunning colors, and effortless sequencing. Be sure to grab this newest chapter when it hits shelves on August 2nd!