Aquaman #57 – Kelly Sue DeConnick, Writer; Robson Rocha, Penciller; Daniel Henriques, Inker; Romulo Fajardo Jr., Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Let’s See How It Plays Out
Ray: When we last left off, Mera had collapsed after using her full store of power to save Amnesty Bay, leaving both the Queen of Atlantis and her unborn child in grave danger. That leads to Aquaman #57, where we get the arrival of Aquababy and set up the next big threat to the kingdom. With Mera in a coma, Arthur and his visiting allies spirit her away back to Atlantis, where we get our first glimpse of the undersea kingdom’s medical facilities. And thus far, they don’t look all that different from ours. VIPs get special treatment, the poor are left to wait in line, and the system is bureaucratic at best and actively hostile at worst – just taking place in a dazzling undersea crystal palace. When Mera arrives, all other patients are abruptly shuttled outside by Murk, causing a near riot and showing how residents of the Ninth Tride are far from accepted in the new Atlantis. This is the first time we’ve seen Dolphin in a while, which I was pleased by.
Soon enough, the situation is complicated by the arrival of Orm, now the ruler of the city of Dagon and all sorts of Lovecraftian beasts. He’s brought his dark god/daughter too, and things quickly escalate. Arthur finds out about Vulko and Mera’s gambit and has a better reaction than I expected, which is one conflict solved. But as good as much of the setup in Aquaman #57 is, there’s one problem – for her entire pregnancy, Mera has been largely kept off-screen until the last act. It was a plot device that essentially neutralized her for the duration. Now, as her daughter is born prematurely (but not looking like it at all), she lies in a coma unaware that she’s a mother now. As a big story ramps up to protect the baby from Orm, it’s not even clear if she’ll be around for it. This run has done marvelous work with expanding Aquaman’s mythology, but as it gets down to more down-to-earth concepts, I’m hoping it course-corrects a bit to give Mera more of a voice.
Corrina: Usually, with a writer whose work I enjoy a great deal, I can see their “voice” somehow peak through all of their stories. DeConnick’s stories often have a lyrical quality about them and they tend to be about people building communities. Thus, she’s made great use of the mythology surrounding Aquaman and the sea. She’s also done a fine job of introducing or using existing supporting characters, like the ones from her first arc, and then Aqualad now.
But the single problem I have is the use of Mera. I’m not sure if DC wanted the pair to be apart or I’m just not on DeConnick’s wavelength here but between Mera killing Arthur because of pregnancy hormones to this sidelining of Mera during the birth of her daughter, I’m frustrated. It’s true, Mera has had some nice moments, here and there, like the defeat that drained her. but it’s not been enough. I hope it gets better, I hope it doesn’t end with Orm/Mera married in order to unite the kingdoms and have Arthur be a loner again, but I suspect that’s where the story might be heading. Or I could be cynical about DC allowing couples happy endings.
Given that the first Aquababy was killed, and his death basically kick-started the grimness of the DC Universe way back when, I’m also holding my breath, concerned this might happen again. Let’s hope not because it would be nice to see a functioning family in DC superhero comics. DC missed the chance with Clark/Lois/Jon, ageing Jon up and sending him to the future. That may mean something dire is about to happen here. Or maybe it’ll buck the trend.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.