Saturday, April 08, 2006

Scipio was right!

I wonder if Scipio's reading (and enjoying) Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis.

"But Tom, Scipio loathed the very idea of the book! Aquaman shouldn't be sword and sorcery!"

True enough. In fact, while I admit that I don't know much about what Aquaman should be, I'd be willing to say that Scipio was right on the money: Aquaman as a Western sounds to me like the most interesting take on the character.

Which is why this week's issue of Sword of Atlantis has me hooked. At first glance, it's very medieval. There's a prophetic wizard-esque character, a gladiatorial swordfight, a deposed Queen and a missing King. But actually reading the book makes it seem like Kurt Busiek has taken Scip's advice to heart.

Arthur Curry is a young hothead searching for his missing father, or failing that, revenge. In the first issue, he is thrust into a new frontier of sorts, where he uses his wits and his gut to help an outlaw fight off a bunch of raiders, saving their captives. The outsider is given weapons and clothes to help him survive in this harsh world, and travels with the outlaw King Shark and the mysterious Dweller in the Depths (also a pretty decent Transformers episode, as I recall, penned by Paul Dini), hoping still to find his missing father. They come across a small village, a ghost town populated by drifters, outlaws, and some of the scattered refugees from the destroyed Atlantis. He learns that this undersea world is a land without laws or leadership, since the central capital was destroyed. Tribes of bandits and rastabouts have prevented any rebuilding, and countless are dead. Arthur then ends up in a duel, horrendously outmatched, but driven by pure nerves. At the end, he proves himself the better man by letting his opponent live and riding off with his outlaw buddy.

Lawless frontier. Idealistic hotheaded hero. Duels and honor codes. Roving bandits. Outlaws and refugees. Ghost towns.

Sounds like a western to me.

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