Aquaman #44 – Kelly Sue DeConnick, Writer; Robson Rocha, Penciller; Daniel Henriques, Inker; Sunny Gho, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: The Sea Gods
Ray: A lot of people reading Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Aquaman will probably only be familiar with her writing style from her extended Captain Marvel run – a peppy, fun, optimistic superhero comic about the impact Carol Danvers had on her civilian fans. But they might be surprised because that’s not at all what she’s drawing on for her run here. The writing on these first two issues reminds me a lot more of her work on the Image western fantasy Pretty Deadly – a dense, mythology-driven thriller that takes its time unraveling its mysteries. These first two issues can be challenging, even frustrating at times, but they give off the impression that something fascinating is coming. After a brief interlude with a grieving Mera reluctantly planning to remarry to shore up Atlantis’ alliances, we cut to Aquaman having an extended and annoying (for him, not us) conversation with the mysterious Wee, who finally agrees to tell him the secrets of his past and the island that night at the bonfire.
This series is in no hurry to get to its point, letting us breathe in the frustrations of daily life on the island. Arthur/Andy’s friendship with the young Caille has a lot of potential, and I’m glad they’re not teasing a potential romance there – between her being a lot younger than him and his eventual reunion with Mera, his protective nature towards her feels more paternal than anything. They make a good pair, between his confusion and her frustration over being trapped. The back half of the issue looks spectacular, but a three-page segment of the Island elders paying tribute to the various sea Gods (all from real mythology and religion) that they worship feels a bit like filler. Gorgeously drawn filler, but this is where the comparison to Pretty Deadly feels strongest. By the end of the issue, Arthur/Andy has taken a major leap forward in his understanding of his true nature, and the mystery is speeding up. I’m not sure how much of what’s going on I truly understand yet, but I know I want to stick around to find out.
Corrina: Filler? To me that three-page segment showing the sea gods/island elders was spectacular and the heart of what this run is about. It’s unclear as yet if the elders are the actual sea gods or stand-ins for them but, either way, it’s a fascinating idea about how Arthur is related to and interacts with the gods. It’s also a big hint not only at how he got there but how he’s going to get out.
Caille, too, is stuck in the same situation as Arthur but I doubt she’s a manifestation of the sea gods. I’m wondering if she’s part of Mother Earth, in some form, or Mother Earth’s protector, who would have to work in concert with sea gods or their champion to leave. If that’s the case, Caille also represents, in some form, Arthur’s human element, the lighthouse keeper who was born on land, as a counter to the sea gods.
I’m not exactly sure how all the symbolism fits together but it’s fascinating, and the comic is also driven by Aquaman’s search for answers. He’s himself, without memory, and it’s good to see him have to work through all this.
Peter David introduced many mythical Atlantean elements in his work on Aquaman. DeConnick seems to be taking that idea and leveling it up, to the gods themselves.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.