Aquaman #48 – Kelly Sue DeConnick, Writer; Viktor Bogdanovic, Penciller; Daniel Henriques, Inker; Sunny Gho, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Adding More Mythos To Aquaman
Ray: In the aftermath of the battle with Namma/Mother Salt, Andy’s memories have started coming back and the man who was Aquaman starts to emerge from the rubble. That’s the perfect starting point for a new arc by Kelly Sue DeConnick and the lead-up to the epic #50 issue. This run has been a fascinating puzzle box since the start and that’s not changing now, as Aquaman #49 opens with Aquaman’s new allies engaging in a ritual to help him access his memories – complete with some minor trolling by Caille. Viktor Bogdanovic is jumping on board as the new artist, and he’s got a great take on the surreal elements of this story. After drinking from a cup, Aquaman wakes up in a strange undersea dreamscape, as a voice guides him through a vista of his old memories starting with his childhood. There’s more double-page spreads than usual in this issue, and some are the best work of Bogdanovic’s career.
A good example is the use of negative space in a panel that shows Aquaman descending into the depths – only for us to turn the page and be greeted by the intimidating mouth of a massive shark. That would be Mother Shark, the mysterious benevolent guardian of the seas and the keeper of Aquaman’s memories. This issue is equal parts retrospective, reminding us of who Aquaman was and subtly tying in a few beats from the movie, and a bold new step forward in his journey as he begins his mission to recover his past. The amnesiac hero is a trope we’ve seen many times before, but never in quite such a first-person style. Immersing us in Aquaman’s confusion is a brilliant storytelling tool. The cliffhanger is obviously a fake-out, so I’m not especially concerned with the implications, but this second arc is starting off just as strong as the first and I can’t wait to discover more about Mother Shark.
Corrina: The amnesia trope is a terrific way to re-imagine a hero if done well, and DeConnick has done it well since the beginning of her run on Aquaman, and all the way to the killer (pun intended) cliffhanger at the end of this issue, leading into Aquaman #50.
The journey into Mother Shark feels epic but the story never forgets the human details, like Arthur asking if his arms have to be held that way in the panel following the one above. He’s a mythic defender of the sea, yes, but he’s also Arthur Curry, son of a lighthouse owner, and possessed of a sense of humor. And, like all heroes, he’ll walk into the mouth of darkness–in this case, Mother Shark–to know the full truth about himself.
DeConnick is the first writer to add to Aquaman myths since Peter David, and, like David, it looks like her run has a chance of building a base that can be used for Aquaman for years. Let’s hope so.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.