AERO #1: PROTECTOR OF THE CITY / Writer: Zhou Liefen / Artist: Keng / Adaption: Greg Pak. AERO #1: AERO & WAVE: ORIGINS AND DESTINIES / Writer: Greg Pak / Artist: Pop Mhan / Colorist: Federico Blee / Publisher: Marvel Comics / Published Date: June 3, 2019.
Introduction of Aero
In this two-part story, we get a more in-depth look at Aero, Shanghai’s Lei Ling, previously introduced in the War of the Realms tie-in Agents Of Atlas. As Lei Ling, she is an accomplished architect. As Aero, she is a superhero who controls air and wind, which also allows her to fly. She keeps these two identities separate so she can live a normal life. In the first story we see her passion for architecture, how she uses her powers to fight, and that she has a boyfriend, but not much else. The second story shows a friendship with Wave and more depth of story.
Protector of the City
Zhou Liefen’s first story, Protector of the City, is mostly exposition. The entire episode is about setting the character up with backstory, but fails to connect to the reader. Just when the story begins, the comic section ends. This seems to be meant to garner excitement for the issue, but I left disengaged and uninterested.
Keng’s art in this section is great if you like manga. As someone who learned of this character from Agents of Atlas, the change to a manga style is jarring, though it serves the story. That being said, the exaggeration in the cartooniness of the art add to my disconnect from the content. The shades of blue and grey becomes boring, even when slight reds and oranges are added. The color of Aero’s hair shifts between blue and brown depending on the panel. At first it seems to be a matter of hidden identity, but the change is in strange places. It is unclear whether this is a choice or a mistake. However, the movement of the air is beautiful, and the world created, ethereal.
Aero & Wave
The second story, Aero & Wave: Origins & Destinies, is much more what comic book readers are used to. We see Aero receiving an award, along with other Asian superheroes, for their efforts in the War of the Realms. Pak shows us her compassion and her personality while also giving us a recap of Wave’s (Pearl Pagan) background. Unlike the first story, this introduction is done through interactions and snapshots of Wave’s past life. Pak does a great job of engaging the reader in these past events while connecting us to the present conflict. Here we not only see that Wave and Aero have created a bond, but that Aero stands with those in whom she believes. Although the story can seem to be more about Wave, the touches Pak adds to Aero solidifies her hero status.
Pop Mhan’s art in this section is much more realistic and relatable than the previous one. The action created in Wave’s past is beautifully done. Each character’s expressions are clear. For example, one panel of Pearl’s face as she works in fast food shows sadness and disappointment so well it breaks my heart. Her almost watery eyes and her slightly pouty lip connect to the reader’s emotions. Federico Blee’s colors are diverse, well used, and support the excitement of Mhan’s art and Pak’s story. This trio works very well together.
Overall, this should be two independent books. The style of each story fight one another, leaving the reader confused. Since Pak also adapted the first story, I’m assuming this was done to honor those in Asia who created the character. It feels like Pak’s later story is carrying the opening story, though. So instead of honoring, they are proving how different genres are perceived and why some may connect with certain styles and not others. It feels like a disjointed book, mashed together. Maybe I just don’t like manga, and that is something you should take into consideration with this review. That being said, I really enjoy the second story and the camaraderie between Aero and Wave. I would like to see more of that relationship. I just wish it could be in its own book, with its own art.
Verdict: 3 out of 5