Aquaman #49 – Kelly Sue DeConnick, Writer; Viktor Bogdanovic, Penciller; Jonathan Glapion, Daniel Henriques, Ryan Winn, Inkers; Sunny Gho, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: A love story?
Ray: Easily the most plot-heavy issue of the run, Aquaman #49 advances Kelly Sue DeConnick’s story in a big way – while also tossing us quite a few massive plot threads that upend everything we think we know. When we kick off, Aquaman has found his way to the ancient Mother Shark and is seeking to have his memories restored – particularly those of the red-haired woman he can’t put out of his mind. As we saw at the end of the last issue, Mother Shark hinted that Mera was the one who killed Aquaman, and this issue reveals the truth of those events. The biggest surprise is that the event that sent Arthur into this strange new world was NOT his apparent sacrifice at the end of Drowned Earth. Dialogue reveals he returned several weeks after that and was reunited with Mera. A little too much of the early issue is devoted to a recap of Mera’s origin, but it’s not long before we are back to the main story and it’s revealed that Mera’s role as queen is being complicated by outside elements.
There’s a lot of developments in this issue, but the biggest is that the Widowhood – who installed Mera on the throne in the last issue – want her to marry for political reasons. Arthur is not their chosen crown consort, naturally, which threatens to cause a rift between them. Arthur correctly points out that he was never asked to marry as king, but Mera’s situation is much more tenuous. Arthur’s flippant attitude to the situation angers Mera, and soon the truth comes out – she’s pregnant. This obviously calls back to the tragic pre-crisis story where Mera and Arthur had a baby and I’m hoping this doesn’t end the same way.
However, I’m not sure about Arthur’s oddly cavalier attitude, needing time to himself to contemplate his feelings, and I’m definitely not sure I like the idea that Mera went crazy enough during a fight to apparently kill Arthur. There’s a lot of story to be told here, and I’m intrigued to see how it plays out. DeConnick’s run is easily the most ambitious Aquaman run in years, and that comes with much higher risk.
Corrina: There is a lot of good in Aquaman #49, as there has been a ton of great storytelling in this arc. But this is the big reveal of how and why Aquaman was killed and, I admit, it makes me a bit queasy. Just over in Heroes in Crisis, we saw someone with too much power and somewhat unbalanced kill numerous people, a fairly horrible portrayal of the reality of mental illness.
Here, Mera isn’t exactly suffering from mental illness, but this does play into the “hysteria” of women, especially regarding pregnancy. She kills the man she loves because she loses control because she’s angry and scared. That’s a tough pill to swallow for me, even when written by DeConnick. Mera’s never shown an inability to control her powers previously, so while the issue makes a case for her background, and her programming as a weapon being responsible, I’m still uneasy and unhappy with the revelation.
However, I do understand Arthur’s reaction, given his difficult relationship with his own mother, and how his father kept emphasizing how his mother abandoned them. I only wish we had a moment of joy in there for Arthur and Mera, just a quick first-reaction, that would help show that he’s interested in being a father. We’ll see where this goes. But, since baby stories rarely end well in superhero comics, I’ll probably remain skeptical for a while.
This is one of those issues where the main cover definitely connects to the story within and it’s a haunting and perfect image for what takes place inside.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.