Aquaman #52 – Kelly Sue DeConnick, Writer; Robson Rocha, Penciller; Daniel Henriques, Inker; Sunny Gho, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run on Aquaman has been building since the first issue, leading to Aquaman #52, and developing its own mythology while tying in seamlessly to the larger DCU – and almost a year in, I can safely say it’s probably my favorite run on the character in a long time.
It juggles epic action, philosophy, and character development with a deft touch that most writers would kill for, and Aquaman #52 displays all its strengths in style. The issue opens with one of the most dramatic fight scenes in a while, as a mysterious Kraken-like being descends on Amnesty Bay and begins wrecking the beachside town. Aquaman and Jackson Hyde, working together for the first time in Rebirth, try to get their crimefighting dynamic down, with Aquaman fighting the monster to a standstill and Jackson trying to split his time between fighting and trying to rescue a man who’s being swept out to sea. But while the monster eventually goes down, the victim is unable to be saved and it’s clear the young hero’s confidence has been shaken.
The issue does something superhero comics rarely do – zeroes in on the death of one civilian and how it affects the heroes and the entire citizenry. But that subplot is only one part of an issue with a lot going on.
There’s a mysterious narrator, and the reveal of their identity throws the entire concept of the run for a loop at the end of the issue. And then there’s the Black Manta segment, which works a lot better than many mandated Year of the Villain tie-ins do. Sure, Manta’s been given a giant robot battlesuit to destroy Aquaman, but the idea that the suit contains the brain patterns of his pirate father and is able to reunite father and son is fascinating. The relationship between Manta and his “Father” is tenser, as the Manta we have now is very different from the young man his father left behind when he was killed by Aquaman. Both the heroes and the villains in this run are given shades of grey in ways few superhero comics manage, and I can’t wait to see DeConnick’s master plan unfold.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.