Review: AQUAMAN #50
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art: Robson Rocha & Eduardo Pansica and Daniel Henriques & Julio Ferreira
Colors: Sunny Gho
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Aquaman returns to Amnesty Bay with new friends in tow with much hoopla and joy from its residents, despite the awkward nature of Arthur’s guests. In Atlantis, Mera has to deal with the public acknowledgement of her pregnancy and choose a husband? It’s not who you think…plus, the reintroduction of another character….
There’s a bit of a double edged sword about it, but Aquaman #50 does focus a lot on character, Arthur, Mera, Vulko, Royal (you want one of his mom’s pies don’t you?) and the denizens of Amnesty Bay as well. What is specifically depicted is not always a favorable exploration of said character. DeConnick puts character first, which is good, even if the details are distracting….
Wonder Woman functions as the reader’s guide to Aquaman’s return. Diana and Aquaman have a link that was fully explored in the Flashpoint timeline. It’s nice to see Diana here attempting to deflect for Arthur while also providing him a link to his life. Wonder Woman grounds the tale and reminds the reader where Arthur fits into the larger picture. Seems like DeConnick should lobby for a chance to write the Amazing Amazon.
There’s a bit of a surprise in the finale as Aquaman receives a phone call from a stranger, but readers will recall Jackson Hyde, the new Aqualad first introduced in Brightest Day. This takes the reader back to an earlier, familiar time which helps to mitigate the unfamiliar nature of Aquaman in the current title. It’s not that long ago, but in some sense it feels as if things have gotten back on course.
Finally, the old dilapidated lighthouse at Amnesty Bay seems to have a larger story to tell, it’s a mystery…I love a good mystery!
The biggest drawback to this issue is the synergy it attempts to create with the Aquaman movie from this past December. Like it or hate it, Jason Momoa’s portrayal of Aquaman is a far cry from classic Aquaman. As he first appears in this issue, there’s an initial thrill when Arthur seems to be at home in Amnesty Bay, and there’s a moment that seems like Arthur will return to the person we’ve know since the “New 52” and the first 24 issues of his “Rebirth” series. While hoping it’s a return it really feels like there’s a different Arthur in tow.
As the issue proceeds, Diana mentions his tattoos, something from the movies, and he himself displays the slacker- avoiding responsibility- of the film version. Classic Aquaman would never leave a pregnant Mera. While there’s a story yet to be told, it doesn’t really speak well of Aquaman’s character. Remember, older readers have already experienced an Aquaman/ Mera union with child. Going the opposite direction of responsibility doesn’t resonate with classic Aquaman, and it was the return to form in the “New 52” and “Rebirth” of classic Aquaman which was well received and a launched Aquaman back to prominence in the DC Universe.
Unfortunately, it’s not only Aquaman, Mera makes a bizarre decision in this issue as well. As her pregnancy has become obvious, she is forced to choose a husband, and despite knowing that Arthur has just returned, she chooses the recently pardoned Vulko. While it is understandable that this will be a “show” marriage, it also reeks of soap opera melodrama. It’s unknown if there’s an editorial mandate that Arthur and Mera are not supposed to be married, but the whole thing comes off as unnecessary misdirection to what should be a return to classic continuity with Arthur and Mera married and expecting a child. Instead of moving the characters forward, this mires them in a tabloid cliche.
Mercifully, the “Year of the Villain” tie-in is negligible, which means it will probably come to fruition next month. Despite a heavy focus on character this issue, Aquaman #50 has trouble rising above mediocre because of content. While technically it’s an extremely well done issue, the details leave a lot to be desired. It’s hard to tell if last year’s feature film is informing the comic editorially or through DeConnick’s own story direction. Never the less, it’s not coming across successfully. No one wants Jason Momoa in the comics…let’s leave that for the questionable movies and let a classic Arthur Curry and Mera have a place to thrive. Or you could just buy back issues….