Review – Aquaman #43 (DC Comics)

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artwork: Robson Rocha (pencils), Daniel Henriques (inks)
Colours: Sunny Gho
Lettering: Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 19th December 2018

After a leviathan of a run spanning from the end of the New 52 to the present day, Dan Abnett has finally brought his stint on Aquaman to a close.  But in the wake of Drowned Earth, Kelly Sue DeConnick is right there to pick up where Abnett left off.  Well… sort of.  Because rather than a continuation of the tense and action-packed Atlantean drama that has thrilled readers for the last forty two issues, DeConnick has opted to take us in an entirely different direction here by having an amnesiac Arthur Curry washing up on the shores of a strange island and starting a brand new life with absolutely no idea of who he actually is.

As should be expected by now, DeConnick’s writing is elegant throughout, and the intriguing history of the Island and its inhabitants is delivered subtly and inventively.  That said, it does feel at times like this is an Aquaman story by someone who doesn’t necessarily want to write an Aquaman story, with almost every familiar trait of the character being erased to the point where, let’s be honest, it could practically be any amnesiac DC superhero who ended up being washed up on the shore.  Don’t get me wrong though, there are some really promising moments here, not least of which is the final page revelation that promises to open the eyes of Arthur – sorry, Arausio – to his real destiny as the series unfolds.

The visual style of the book, courtesy of Robson Rocha, Daniel Henriques and Sunny Gho, is also a marked departure from the established “Rebirth” Aquaman aesthetic.  Light pencils and detailed, expressive characters replace the bold, in-your-face underwater action, and while it does feel almost jarringly different from the previous look, I actually kind of like it.  It serves to draw a firm line between Abnett and DeConnick, and Rocha’s style fits perfectly with the almost fantasy fairy-tale aesthetic of the story.

It’s going to be interesting to see whether the story can keep its head above water once the initial novelty of the “memory loss” hook wears off, but for now it’s definitely intriguing seeing how Arthur/Arausio/Andy fits into this strange community, and how the mystery of his arrival and the secrets of the island are gradually creeping their way out of the shadows.

All too often the end of a writer’s extended run on a title can be viewed by long-time readers as a “perfect jumping-off point”, but I’d strongly advise against that course of action here.  True, this isn’t your typical Aquaman tale, but DeConnick and co. have put together a fresh and inventive look at the character, and in the wake of forty-six issues of Dan Abnett’s epic-scale “underwater Game of Thrones”, it’s strangely exciting to be presented with something so markedly different here.

Rating: 4/5.


ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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