Aquaman, hot off the heels of the usurpation of his throne and the brutal betrayal of Murk, has lost his throne to Corum Rath. The Crown of Thorns still encapsulates Atlantis. No one gets in; no one gets out. Rath hunts down mutants, foreigners, and dissidents throughout the undersea kingdom.
The Ninth Tride is the lowest part of Atlantis, and it is the most impoverished. Crime runs rampant. But there are rumors of the ghost of the former king, believed to be dead by Murk's hand. They call it the Aquaman after the former king's surface world name. He protects the downtrodden from the crime lords and Rath's people.
That Aquaman is indeed Arthur Curry, who still is still alive in the Ninth Tride. Vulko and a band of dissidents plot to overthrow Rath and his council through the use of one of his own magical relics.
A mute mutant girl with fish scales and white hair meets the Aquaman, and takes to following him in his pursuits. Meanwhile, on the surface world, Mera is in a state of silent shock having witnessed the death of Arthur. However, she and Tula are contacted by Vulko and learn that Arthur may still yet live. Mera hastens to return to Atlantis to find her husband-to-be.
(Spoilers) If you haven't guessed, that white-haired girl is Dolphin, a former regular in Aquaman comics, long-dead before Flashpoint.
Aquaman #25 is an excellent comic. The establishment of the new status quo of Aquaman and Atlantis is established with ease and skill. The time jump is a little awkward; it doesn't really feel like that much time has passed. However, once the comic gets into the swing of what its story, you can buy it.
I like that Aquaman has sort of taken up the role of undersea Batman in the Ninth Tride. He's a ghost, a phantom, and he still fights for others. He's also a broken man, seeing his nation and his people being subjugated by a paranoid and bigoted tyrant (where have I heard that one recently?). He tried to bring peace and coexistence to his people, and they showed that they didn't want it.
The pacing is done very well. The story feels lengthy beyond even the actual story extension given by this being a special issue. You get a feel for this new Atlantis, its people, and its broken hero.
I like the reintroduction of Dolphin. I never acquainted myself in older DC stories, but I look forward to getting to know the character now. I also dig that Aquaman has a beard and long hair now. As long as they don't phase out the green pants and the orange shirt, I'm fine.
Now let's talk about the art. In my recap of Aquaman: Rebirth, I already ranted and raved about how incredible Stepjan Sejic's art is. I can repeat myself here. It's incredible. It's absolutely gorgeous. It's at-once stylized and almost photorealistic. There's depth, the shading is done well, and the colors are astonishing. He, in one issue, has become one of my new favorite artists. It's just awesome.
This comic was well worth your time. Aquaman has been one of the narrative powerhouses of Rebirth, and it remains that here. Pick up Aquaman #25. It kicks off a new era for Aquaman, and it looks like it's going to be another good one.