This review contains minor spoilers
Aquaman has a lot on his plate, in this issue. He's trying to take over the role of King of Atlantis. He's dealing with Vulko, who is in his custody. He's trying to find out who is selling Atlantian weaponry. And he has to keep tabs on what's going on with Orm, as his sister, Tula stands by his side. On the surface world, Mera learns about respecting law and order.
While I really enjoyed the overall issue, I found myself loving the couple of scenes featuring Mera on the surface world. They were brief, but the fleshed out the character of Mera a bit more. While she lives on the surface world now, she really doesn't understand it or how things run up there. The second scene leads to the end of the book where we see the old Atlantian man, from the last issue, once again. It's pretty obvious that this was once an Atlantian ruler, but how did he survive? Who is this guy?
Scavenger?! We saw him in the last issue, briefly, but we get to see a bit more from Peter Mortimer AKA Scavenger, in this issue. This isn't an extremely popular Aquaman villain, by any means. He only really appeared in a few issues of an older Aquaman volume and a run in Warlord, but I like that writer Geoff Johns is pulling from the depths (pun intended) to resurrect some classic characters.
Artist Paul Pelletier and colorist Rod Reis do a wonderful job during the Atlantian scenes here. There is a great flow here with Atlantian architecture and the clothing/armor. Everything comes together as believable as a real civilization. Reis' colors, in these scenes are awesome. He has a fantastic color scheme here, adjusting everything to fit into these underwater scenes. These guys work well together to make underwater scenes feel, well, underwater.
I have a new least favorite character in this book: Murk. Geoff Johns does a great job at making this guy a despicable character. He has a "take no prisoners" attitude, which really doesn't fit with how Arthur's personality. He hates the surface world, but serves his king. You can sense a mutiny coming, and Murk seems like a character you do not want to mess with.
I'm extremely glad Vulko is still around. Maybe I'm a bit crazy, like Vulko, but he's the most interesting character in this book. He's pledged his life to his world and it's true ruler. His devotion is undying, and even though he could be facing death, he's still willing to help Atlantis and its leader. That's pure dedication.
In the last issue, I was under the impression because of the stubble, that Aquaman would be growing a beard. My assumptions were completely wrong. Aquaman is clean shaven in this issue. I was really hoping for a beard here.
Everything feels shrouded in shadows, in this issue. There are many times where half or even a whole character's face is inked out. It works fine now and again, especially in the scenes underwater, but I feel it was overused here, especially on that final reveal page.
AQUAMAN #18 is another hit. There's a lot thrown at the reader in this issue, but it's all fantastic. It's a straight-forward book the reader will enjoy. While this may not be the best place for a new Aquaman reader to jump on, they won't be too lost. The book does a pretty good job at keeping the reader updated on the events.My only real problem here, aside from Aquaman's 5 o'clock shadow being gone, was that too many times, faces and bodies were buried in shadows.
Overall, I highly recommend this issue.