Aquaman #43 – Kelly Sue DeConnick, Writer; Robson Rocha, Penciller; Daniel Henriques, Inker; Sunny Gho, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Corrina: Excellent, As Advertised
Ray: Image Comics superstar and former Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick is making her ongoing DC debut, and she’s doing it on one of the last titles anyone would have expected – Aquaman, a title that’s been run by Dan Abnett for the last few years. It’s been quietly competent, but not a title anyone was talking about. That’s about to change, as DeConnick jumps off the ending of the recent Drowned Earth storyline to give Aquaman a fresh start – and Aquaman #43 is most intriguing first issue I’ve read in a while.
By stranding Aquaman on a mysterious shore and giving him amnesia, the title takes him back to basics – a stranger in a strange land, only loosely connected to the kindly strangers around him. But there’s a fascinating mythology around here as well, of mysterious women and angry seas. As the story opens, the unnamed Arthur is bunking with a bickering but kindly old couple and is fascinated with a young woman who pulled him from the water and seems to have some ties to it. The story takes a while to get going, but the lead-up to the big developments is fascinating in itself.
Aquaman, whether he’s called “Andy” by his new friends or “Aurasio” by the mysterious Caille, soon finds himself pulled into the mysterious goings-on on the small isle. Fishing nets come full of rotting fish, strange storms threaten to pull people out to sea, and many people on the island believe the sea itself is taking revenge on them. Although Aquaman is far from the man he was on the Justice League, it’s clear he still has the heroic instincts that drive him. It’s great to watch him slowly rediscover who he is and what he’s meant to do, but I think I’m actually more intrigued by the other characters on the island. I’m hoping Caille isn’t meant to be a love interest for Arthur – the issue goes out of its way to remind us of Mera – and by the end of the issue, we know exactly what role she plays in the ocean’s rage. DeConnick is known for provocative Image books like Bitch Planet, and she works a little bit of that social commentary in here around the end of the issue. By the first cliffhanger, I am totally hooked on her vision for this series and I hope she’s around here for a long time.
Corrina: We’ve had hints that Aquaman would be in a strange new environment with DeConnick’s run but I certainly never expected anything like this, where the familiar elements, such as a coastal town and its tight-knit residents, are mixed with a strange mythology. This seems almost like a Purgatory of some kind and, indeed, one of the characters hints that they are being punished. What makes it work perfectly is that the residents of the town are fully developed people. In other words, we, the readers, like Arthur, are stuck somewhere strange but also familiar.
It’s also lovely to see Aquaman’s genuine desire to help others, even in his confusion.
Where it’s going to go from here, I have no idea, and that is a good thing because that means there are so many paths this story can go down. That’s exciting.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.