Superman Birthday Party Pack
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Cover date: February 2003
Writer: Matthew K. Manning
Penciller: John Delaney
Inker: John K. Snyder
"An Angry Tide"
Reviewed by: George O'Connor (email@example.com)
When sharks terrorize the beachfront in Gotham, the Justice League arrives to pull the swimmers to safety, but as they carry them to land, they notice that the beachgoers are covered with attacking starfish. As Superman, Hawkgirl, and J'onn J'onnz remove the starfish from the victims, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman begin herding the sharks out to the deep sea. No sooner do they have the dangerous marine life in tow, however, than Aquaman leaps from the water to uppercut Diana. While a stunned GL watches, Aquaman returns to the ocean and rides a killer whale to escape. When The Flash attempts to stop the Sea King, Aquaman disappears and a red algae begins to suddenly spread across the water, covering the Scarlet Speedster and poisoning him.
Later, in the Watchtower, Batman investigates the red algae, suspicious of a missing link in the case. As the Dark Knight explains, Aquaman can't control plant life, and he suspects someone else is behind Aquaman's suddenly more aggressive feats. News footage from a conference in Venice shows an adoring fan kiss Aquaman, and Batman recognizes the tourist as his foe, Poison Ivy.
Later, Superman and Wonder Woman join the rest of the League in battling an outbreak at the Gotham City Aquarium, battling jellyfish, giant squid, and sharks that are pummeling the glass containers in which they are trapped.
Aquaman shows his face moments later, attacking the League before running off again. Before he can reach Poison Ivy's hideout, however- a greenhouse obviously- he is captured and replaced with J'onn J'onnz, who disguises himself as the Sea King in order to capture Poison Ivy. He reveals himself too quickly, however, and a giant plant ensnares him.
Poison Ivy begins to run, but slams straight into an irate Aquaman (is there any other kind?) and is carried off to Arkham Asylum. Later, The Flash recovers from his red algae poison, due to his accelerated metabolism.
Story - 3: I like the idea, but I felt the execution of the story was a little too typical. There was nothing that was really great or new about the story besides the premise that Poison Ivy controls Aquaman, and even so, it doesn't seem a large enough threat to involve the entire League. I think this story would have been more effective if it had just been Batman alone or Batman and one other hero- like Hawkgirl or Green Lantern, perhaps. Also, a couple of nit-picking things: Does Gotham City really have a beach? And if it does, would anyone really want to swim in it? In Metropolis, I'd believe it, but c'mon! This is Gotham City we're talking about. There's way too much pollution and way too many dead bodies in that water for anyone in their right mind to want to swim there. Also, a slightly lesser nit-pick, but the Martian Manhunter doesn't have heat vision in the animated series, and yet he uses it to kill some starfish in this story. It's not a major detail, but it's still important to keep things as consistent as possible between the animated show and its comic book counterpart.
Art - 3: Delaney makes some great hits and some great misses in this issue. I feel this is very typical of his work. He tends to spend a lot of time and effort on the big pages, but seems to rush through the lesser ones. Page 12, for instance, is fantastic. I love it! But 16 looks sloppy. Batman in the watchtower is really nice (9 and 10), but Batman being covered by jellyfish on page 14 with Hawkgirl, Superman, and Wonder Woman flying around looks stilted and lacks a dynamic flow. Page 4, on the other hand, with the beachgoers being rescued is terrific. I'd like to see an issue where Delaney does a really nice job with consistency. I'm sure it would be great.
Cover Art - 2: The characters look proportioned all wrong. The arms are short (especially Aquaman's) and there's too much going on to fit within the confines of a cover. The colors are also watered down and dull instead of vibrant and powerful.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2003.