HBO Max is the new streaming service from Warner Bros. and nowadays, everybody wants a piece of the streaming pie. As Netflix has proven time and time again, streaming is where the money is, but in order to get that huge amount of money, you need content. Warner Bros is a legendary studio, and it owns some of the most legendary and recognizable IPs of the modern era.
Taking this into consideration, it makes sense that the studio wants to diversify its portfolio by taking some IPs out of their comfort zone and transforming them into something new and fresh. Experimentation is the name of the game, and Aquaman: King of Atlantis is exactly that. Will the experiment be a success or a complete failure?
Aquaman, more than any other of the members of the Justice League, has had a bad time making audiences take him seriously. The character has been the target of jokes for the biggest part of its existence, and it was not until Zack Snyder had the genius idea of casting Jason Momoa as his Aquaman that things started to take a turn. The blonde joke version, who only spoke with fish, makes a turn into this grizzly but loveable dude that still talks to fish. But instead of that ability making him a joke, it is the thing that makes him special, even among the Atlantean people.
Still, when thinking of comedy, the jokes for Aquaman basically write themselves. So producer, James Wan, who also directed the live-action film for the character, takes the character in a new direction. Fusing the powerful, action packed stories of superheroes with the nonsensical wonder of shows like Ren & Stimpy and Adventure Time. The result is an enjoyable adventure full of action, jokes, and adventure.
Aquaman: King of Atlantis stars Cooper Andrews, Gillian Jacobs, Thomas Lennon and Dana Snyder. In this first of three episodes titled: Dead Sea, King Aquaman of Atlantis, having gained the seat of the throne by beating his brother Ocean Master, tries to be the best king he can be. However, things are not as easy as the citizens of Atlantis don’t trust him for being an outsider to their culture.
The first episode of the miniseries seems to begin right after the ending of the live action movie, so watching that film could enhance the enjoyment of this miniseries quite a lot. Even when the styles of both mediums, both in tone and visually, are so strikingly different, one feeds into the other quite naturally.
The episode is beautifully animated, with a style that goes from beautiful to grotesque in a matter of seconds. The style is very much in line with shows like Adventure Time or Rick & Morty, so get ready to watch some truly incredibly psychedelic visuals throughout the whole episode. At a running of 45 minutes, the animation looks like a step-up from other shows of its type by being amazingly fluid and detailed in some frames. There’s always something moving, and the characters expel so much personality and energy that it is hard not to watch them.
The story is also a lot more compelling than you might expect for a show like this one. Without getting into spoilers, the story manages to be a perfect continuation of the live action film and involves Aquaman getting used to his new title as King of Atlantis. The adventure also displays a very fun and actually dangerous villain that steals the show in many scenes. If this villain could be translated into live action, it would be both fun and exciting, to say the least.
Dead Sea also has a lot of action, and the way the animation team makes the action sequences quite funny without losing that edge that something really dangerous is happening is quite impressive.
One of the best elements of the show is its treatment of Aquaman himself. As we said before, the character has been deemed a joke for many, many years, so some of his greatest qualities from the comics have always remained a mystery to mainstream audiences. In this episode, the writers actually take the time to present Aquaman himself more as a diplomat and less a brute or as a walking joke than many other serious shows have ever done. If this is what it takes from mainstream audiences to get to know one of the most important qualities of the character, then it is worth it.
Dead Sea is a really fun first part of this trilogy of stories. And even when the episode has its own resolution, the ending will leave you waiting for more next week. Let’s hope the miniseries can keep this level of quality from beginning to end.