Review: Aquaman #23.2: Ocean Master
This is only the second Villains Month title for Aquaman, this time featuring Ocean Master, and it is a nice bridge from the time Orm lead the attack in the Throne of Atlantis crossover and his escape from prison at the end of the Trinity War. This is not an origin as some villains' books have been, but a story arc that firmly tells Ocean Master’s side of the story throughout the Aquaman storyline. Writer Tony Bedard writes Orm as a sympathetic character and spells him out as one at the end of the book. Even though many of Ocean Master’s actions have not been by definition good, he is painted in such a way that his actions are motivated by good intentions.
The majority of the title plays out during the Belle Reve breakout, and Bedard lets us know Ocean Master has zero interest in those that make up the Crime Syndicate or their motivations in breaking out all of DC’s villains. Orm is motivated by one simple goal: to return and re-take the throne as Atlantis’ King. He doesn’t get involved with the chaos surrounding his trek back to sea, and the few heroic actions he does manage to pull-off are mere by-products of his desire to get home. Bedard makes this feel more like an integral part of the Aquaman story and less like a stand-alone one-shot. Few books throughout Villains Month have attempted to blend in with the title it takes over, and Ocean Master has been the best example of this so far.
Artist Geraldo Borges’ work also blends fairly seamless with the style and look of Aquaman’s regular run, and it helps that series colorist Rod Reis works his skill here to help maintain the feel. Borges does a nice job making Ocean Master look more heroic in his stature versus a villainous look. He renders Orm’s outfit to make it pop off the page and keeps his design as slick as it is sharp. Ocean Master’s look is quickly becoming one of my favorites, and Borges’ work raises the bar. I give credit to the creative team all around for making this villains title solidly look and feel like a part of the regular series, and whether by design or not, it works extremely well.
Ocean Master is one of the better titles in this final week of Villains Month, and it makes it very interesting where Orm goes from here based on the final page of the book. It’s a cliffhanger that would transition nicely into Aquaman #24, and my hope is they follow through with it. There’s just a ton of good stuff here, and this was just simply a great read. I highly recommend it for ongoing fans and noobs alike.