Aero #1 Review

by Charles Martin on July 03, 2019

Aero #1 Review
"Protector Of The City"
Zhou Liefen
Artist: Keng
Adaptation by: Greg Pak

"Aero & Wave: Origins & Destinies" 
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Pop Mhan
Colourist: Federico Blee
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Rolling out of the pages of New Agents of Atlas are a pair of local Asian heroes: Shanghai's Aero and the Philippines' Wave. They're teamed up here in a two-story issue that's all about introductions.

Aero's lead strip is a very atmospheric affair where the secondary star is the city of Shanghai itself. It's a doubly-appropriate set-up. Aero has a powerful passion for her home, and her antagonist is a monster that's creating giant golems out of the city's buildings.

In the second strip, Aero goes in search of Wave when she doesn't show up with her team (Triumph Division) for War of the Realms honours. This leads into Wave's origin story and the revelation that she's always had a tense relationship with Triumph Division - a relationship that's about to develop into full-blown hero-on-hero fighting.

It's tempting to say that the two-story structure is the source of this issue's pacing problems. But I think Aero's story, as orchestrated by Zhou Liefen and Keng, would come off as slow even without a backup strip behind it. It gets a full issue's worth of pages here; I think it was simply built to be consumed in bigger chunks.

We get precious few details in 22 pages. Lei Ling is an architect. She loves Shanghai. She's got a boyfriend. She developed mysterious air control powers … somehow.

I want to read more. But it's not because I've fallen in love with Aero; it's because I haven't seen enough to make that call.

Even with its smaller ration of pages, Wave's backup story gets closer to completeness. That's not entirely a good thing; her origin flashback is assembled with competent storytelling skill but also a lot of clichés.

The art in the lead story is probably this issue's strongest asset. The portrayal of Aero herself is clean and appealing. The settings and action are treated with an interesting approach that relies on modulated colours, cool superpower effects, and nuanced lighting. The result is short on detail, but it does an impressive and powerful job of establishing a mood. Setting aside the cute pun, "atmospheric" truly is the best word to describe it.

The second strip, unfortunately, bolsters the visual reception of the first via contrast. It's standard-issue middle-shelf cape-comic art. It gets the story told, and there's a fair amount of detail invested in the pages, but I can't shake the feeling that this is a punch-clock performance. 

Like the first story, the second gets its chance to combine art and colour in a meaningful way when the time comes to show Wave's first use of her powers. It's a moment that begs for something inventive and memorable; what we get is frothy air bubbles and muddy greens swirling around a standard-issue heroine making standard-issue heroine poses.

Aero and her pal Wave don't make much of a splash in this first spotlight issue. This #1 might scratch the itch of readers who are already intrigued, but it just doesn't do enough to hook the uncommitted. I believe this title will read better when collected into an arc-sized trade. Despite its extra length, this first issue falls short of presenting a complete picture of its protagonists.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
I love Aero's boyfriend - a guy in a suit who might as well be waving a sign that says "I exist!" over his head - but probably not the way the creators want me to.