The other surprise about The Others was that Johns didn't really seem to create them to last. They were a team of six heroes, counting Aquaman, each of whom received their powers though a golden Atlantean artifact similar to Aquaman's trident, two of them died during their first arc, the result of Black Manta hunting them down and killing them to get their artifacts (One of these was Kahina The Seer, who was "fridged" upon first appearance; the other was Vostok, who made it until the climax of the arc. None of them seemed all-the-way thought out. The surviving members are a codename-less jungle lady with a bauble that allows her to teleport, a generic-looking espionage guy named The Operative with a key that gives him some basic key powers, and Prisoner of War, who wears a sack over his head and the dog-tags of his fallen allies, who haunt him like ghosts; his artifact are golden power manacles with chains attached; he clanks 'em together to form shockwaves.
In other words, Batman, Incorporated they aren't.
Their new series is written by Dan Jurgens, whose New 52 track-record has consisted of the quickly cancelled Justice League Ingernational and a ton of fill-in work, and drawn by Lan Medina and inker Allen Martinez who, to their credit, do a pretty good job of drawing within the same basic spectrum of Aquaman artist Paul Pelletier.
The results, however, aren't great, and do little to instill confidence that this will outlive other oddball books like The Movement or Green Team.
Here's a particularly depressing passage:
Jurgen's plot is basically a do-over of the first Others story from Aquaman, in which someone is hunting them for their artifacts, but it moves swiftly, and gives readers plenty of information in the first issue to know whether or not they will want to read the second (They won't).
Thousands of years ago, ancient Atlantean king Atlan murders an alchemist and takes his last magical golden bars.
In present day New York City, the Prisoner of war is standing on a rooftop in the middle of the night, looking down at the veterans in line at a soup kitchen. He's attacked by the generc bad guys, and fights them off.
In Brazil, jungle lady Ya'Wara murders four poachers; three with a knife, the fourth she has eaten by a jaguar. (Is murder too strong a word? I guess the last three are self-defense; either way, she totally kills four dudes. Under normal circumstances, i'd say that makes her and The Others not the kind of folks that Superman and Batman would want Aquaman hanging around with and, in fact, whom they might pursue themselves in order to bring them to justice, but the DCU's moral compass has gone kinda funny as a result of the New 52 reboot).
In "The Ghost Lands," a young Native American girl named Sky Alchesay is talking to an ancestor; she fights the same generic bad guys. I have no idea who she is, and if she was in the original Others arc, I completely forgot about her. I suspect that she was introduced later in Aquaman, after I dropped the series, but I'm not sure.
In the Mediterranean, The Operative breaks into a safe in a boat, killing at least one guard in the process. The bad guys attack him then, and Aquaman appears to help him out.
The one constant in all of these encounters is that the artifacts aren't working.
There's a one-page scene in which the boss of the bad guys has a conversation with an unseen voice that has wiggly dialogue bubbles and a different font, probably Atlan or the alchemist.
Aquaman then convenes a meeting of The Others aboard The Operative's airplane, which is then attacked.
Finally, in Iran, Kahina The Seer's widower husband goes to visit his sister-in-law, who apparently shares Kahina's power to look into the future: She's in a hospital, where she was forcibly admitted "with the rantings of a woman gone mad" (It seems like she may replace her dead sister as an Iranian superhero in The Others line-up). The book ends with the bad guys capturing Kahina's sister, Sayeh, and fleeing with her. She cries out to her brother-in-law, "Save me, Hamid! Before it all comes true! Before machines come-- --To DESTROY us ALL!"
That last panel shows a close-up of her eyeball, in which we see some super-scary, cyborg versions of various DC superheroes, all of whom have red eyes and Brother Eye symbols on them. "Find out more about Sayeh's horrific vision in Futures End #0!"
Futures End is, of course, one of the two weekly series DC is launching soon, and Dan Jurgens is one of the four writers involved. How tightly tied to Future's End this book will actually be remains to be seen, but if it is tied to it, then chances are Aquaman and The Others could survive a lot longer than it would otherwise.
We interrupt this blog post reviewing two DC comics released this week in order to look at this ad:
The ad features an image that is basically a bigger and more detailed version of what was seen in Sayeh's eyeball, with a Batman Beyond included in it. Fucked-up, scary, Deathlok-esque corpse-and-cyborg Justice Leaguers, ones that look like the monstrous versions of the heroes from the "Rotworld" storyline in Animal Man and Swamp Thing, only with metal bits.
Their Brother Eye symbols are more pronounced here, and the Brother Eye sattelite hovering above the skyline really underlines that that is what's going on. That...doesn't instill me with a lot of hope, given how poorly the OMAC/Brother Eye stuff from before the reboot was handled.
The cover is pretty nicely designed, the negative yellow space allowing plenty of room for all of the nonsense text and numbers and suchlike, without sacrificing any art. Is that a new logo? It looks new, but maybe that's just because we rarely get a good look at it.
I do see one problem with the cover though. The price says $3.99, which is an awful lot for a 22-page DC comic book. Apparently the publisher is confident enough in the sales of Batman comics that they can price them like Marvel comics; that, or they charge an extra buck for the extra two pages (The last two pages, while nice, aren't actually worth 50 cents apiece).
The expected beautiful art, and the unexpected warm, almost luminous quality of its colors, aside, the storyline itself is fairly generic, to the point of being irritating.
There's a new possible love interest for Bruce Wayne, likely to be killed off when this story arc or this run ends (if not sooner**), introduced; she's come to town with her 18-year-old Motorcross champion daughter to strike a deal with Bruce regarding re-developing one of the many shitty, crime and poverty breeding areas of town (Hasn't Bruce Wayne redeveloped the whole of Gotham City yet? I feel like this is another plot point I've read at least three or four time since the reboot).
There's a new super-drug (AAAAAA! The most played-out super-comic trope of all! I hate new super-drug plots!) called Icarus in town, or just "'Ick" in slang (Other slang, "Relax, bro...", "Let's bust open a stash and get our 'Ick on!", "Oh, hell naw...", "We about to get paid, son!" and so on).
And there are a couple of villains, including a regular-looking gangster type called The Squid who feeds an associate who has displeased him to something big with tentacles (a squid, I assume), and another not-as-colorful-as-most-Batman villains guy who seems to have a congressman on his payroll.
I'd probably advise you wait for the trade though, because those layouts will look much, much better without the ads breaking them up and, of course, Holy shit $4 is a lot of money for a comic book.
*Actually, that's not quite accurate. Ostrander and Mandrake created J'onn's membership on the team, and used the characters as J'onn's pre-League League, but see the comments for an explanation of who created those characters and where. I second the recommendation for the short-lived Chase series, which might have actually been a decent candidate for New 52 revival, were the new universe not already full of acronym-ed government agencies teams with overlapping responsibilities...although the DEO, Director Bones and Cameron Chase have all appeared in Batwoman, right?
**Spoiler alert: I'm pretty sure she's dead or dying by the end of this issue.