There's a lot going on in this issue. Lots of a set-up. We get our first glimpse at Topo, Aquaman's undersea partner as Aquaman tries to find where Scavenger is. Something sketchy is going on with Murk and Tula as we meet Swatt, an Atlantian that can't breathe underwater. In the midst of all of this, Mera is in the Bermuda Triangle and the "King" of Atlantis, as seen in the last issue, really needs someone to bow to him.
The Topo redesign is so awesome. Writer Geoff Johns and penciller Paul Pelletier took a pretty cheesy, but fun, silver age character and made him worthwhile and incredibly awesome. I love the combination of sea creatures in this design. We get the basic octopus design, along with crab features. I love the look here, and I'm really hoping we get to see much more of him in the future, especially since there seems to be some underlying fear, in other Atlantians, of Topo.
I beginning to really like Tula and Murk, who are supposedly sworn to protect Aquaman, but obviously, they're still working for Orm. We get a very cool scene as they meet and fight Swatt, who is apparently an Atlantian who needs to breathe air. There is definitely a plot building here to overthrow Arthur. This story really has me interested in the future of this book and the future of Aquaman.
Swatt is a pretty cool character. I think he has a very cool design. It has familiar Atlantian elements that really make him fit into the world, but he has his own distinct style. I really like the idea of his weakness being he can't breathe underwater. Who he's working with, I'm not too keen on, but it's overall a great start to a threatening relationship.
Very cool ending here. Paul Pelletier's art on the final reveal page is awesome, as well as the lead up to it. These are some great, stand-out moments where Pelletier proves he's the man for this job. I love the ship graveyard scene. His backgrounds are incredible, and once again, his redesign of Topo is amazing.
The Mad Magazine variant cover is awful. I hate the clash of the Mad style and Aquaman, especially as a cover.
This issue is pretty heavy on the introductions to new characters, for a book that's 19 issues in: Topo, Swatt, the gentleman on the final page, and this is the second time we get to see the "King of Atlantis." While The Others were all also introduced in the same issue, they were all connected and in the same place. These characters are spread apart and have no relation to one another.
Because all of this issue is spread out over four different stories, it feels a bit chaotic. Everything here is a tad jumpy. I never felt like I got into a rhythm reading this book. Sometimes you exit and enter scenes on the same page and at other times we linger on for a tad too long. The book, overall, has some pacing issues.
The worst part is that there's a one month break here, and a new creative team takes over for issue #21. On the up side, it's an Others story, so it could be a ton of fun.
I liked AQUAMAN #19, but it's not my favorite of the series. It's a bit chaotic. There's a lot going on. Johns is setting up a few stories here and catching up on a couple things from previous issues. The events in this issue are bigger than the 20 pages the creative team is allotted. I think once you can sit down and read this issue and maybe #21 onward, it will play out a bit better.
There's a lot to love about this issue, but the pacing and jumpiness really dragged it down. Overall, I give this a mild recommendation.