Aquaman #65 – Kelly Sue DeConnick, Writer; Miguel Mendonca, Artist; Romulo Fajardo Jr, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: Kelly Sue DeConnick brings down the curtain on her exceptional Aquaman run with a final issue that’s notable as much for how non-explosive it is than anything. When we last left off, Ocean Master stood exposed and challenged Aquaman into a royal combat to the death for control of Atlantis. But as the issue begins, Aquaman refuses to take his bait and instead calls for help from the diverse group of allies he built over the course of the run. This includes the old Gods of the sea from the first arc, Aqualad and his giant robot Manta-head grandpa, and the rebels from the Ninth Tride who haven’t bought into Orm’s propaganda—as well as some long-time allies from the Justice League. It’s a dramatic show of strength and loyalty that knocks Orm on his heels and starts to unravel his plan—including the loyalty of his minions from Dagon, who start to see that they’re being manipulated.
The Dagon story could have fallen flat because the Ninth Tride doesn’t deserve to be villainized. The last few runs have shown that Atlantis’ treatment of them was horrible in many ways. And DeConnick neatly addresses that, with characters like Pilot and even Orm’s most powerful ally Lernea getting the respect and compassion they deserve. Orm, meanwhile, is exposed as the coward and manipulator he is—which I’m not thrilled with, given his character development under past writers, but I can’t say it doesn’t ring true to his history. This run ends not with a final battle, with a tribute to the diverse world of Aquaman—now a father who is happy to step away from the brutal battle and enjoy the peace he’s earned. The final pages are a surprise, but a beautifully executed one that probably wouldn’t have been approved last year. It’s the kind of comic book ending that leaves you feeling like the journey was worth it. Whoever comes next on this character will have a high bar to reach.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.