DCAU #211: Family Matters

IN THIS ONE... Aquaman confronts his evil brother, the Ocean Master. In the back-up, Power Girl!

Written by Steve Vance; art by John Delaney and Ron Boyd.

REVIEW: '90s Aquaman could be a serious, teeth-grinding experience, but Vance takes it in another direction and makes this a superhero sitcom, with comedy sea life (the loquacious dolphin even calls the sharks "comic relief"), comedy henchmen, and an Ocean Master who is so broad a speechifying, mustache-twirling villain that he comes across as funny. This is a megalomaniac who doesn't understand why he keeps losing  despite his having  a leaky submarine HQ, and in a sweeter turn perhaps, doesn't get that Aquaman is trying to integrate him back into his family.

The story's weakness is in its opening sequence on some tropical quay where Aquaman saves a man dropped in the water with cement shoes, and is content leaving the poor guy still tied and cemented on shore, and the murdered who did it running away. It makes Arthur seem callous and foolish. It connects with the next story, but as we'll see, not in any way that would redeem the character.
"Rolling on the River" is actually a little confusing because it also starts on a quay, one you might initially mistake for the one you saw at the start of the issue. Flip back a few pages and you'll remember this is in a different locale, so no, it's no, Power Girl isn't going to show up to help the guy in cement, or catch those crooks, or whatever. I love Power Girl, and she has strong action beats and shows her determination fighting henchmen who want to break supervillains out of prison with a super-weapon, but we don't get enough time with her to make the story more than the slim thing it is. In the end, we do find out the main bad guy is one of the cement mixers from the same story, and there's a subplot, such as it is, about a coast guard officer both causing and solving the situation. Not unpleasant, but it's a lot to jam into a short back-up.

IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: Aquaman and Ocean Master, comedy stylings aside, are straight from the comics of the era. Power Girl makes sense as a back-up feature because in the post-Crisis DC Universe, she had a connection to Atlantis through Arion instead of being from Krypton. Belle Reve prison, where supervillains (and the Suicide Squad) are housed, is referenced.

REREADABILITY: Medium-High/Medium - The Aquaman story has a surprising amount of laughs and smiles. The Power Girl story tries to do too much with its page count.



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