Review: Aquaman #53
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art: Robson Rocha, Eduardo Pansica, Daniel Henriques & Julio Ferreira
Colors: Sunny Gho
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
While Black Manta follows Mera to the surface and her reunion with Aquaman, Arthur learns the secrets of Tristam Maurer….
Tristam’s story is an interesting tale. It reveals enough about Tristam’s character, but not everything. There’s still a mystery to be discovered under the surface. The story suggests sort of power or perhaps magic or summoning that allows Maurer to control these creatures. The real question is whether or not they are of his making, or they are creatures that exist independent of Maurer and he is releasing them or even directing them. As engaging as it is, it’s not clear yet and that’s a good thing as Maurer leaves a lot of unanswered questions despite attempting to “tell all” to Arthur.
Maurer’s enigmatic quality helps maintain the doubt in Arthur’s mind as to whether or not he is good or evil. There are aspects which point to both. While there are no answers this issue, this aspect has the potential for some thoughtful exploration of the topic.
The converging of Mera and Aquaman’s storylines is good to see. Manta’s appearance brings the “Year of the Villain” thread to the forefront as well. There will definitely be a showdown next issue. If this arc is to be 6 issues, then the pacing is right on. While everything will not be wrapped up, at this point it feels like by end of issue #55, we will have a clear, new plot lines ready for exploration.
Finally, Arthur comes across more like classic Aquaman this issue, but it’s seems like it has more to do with a lack of character moments…
…and a one-dimensional approach. It’s only when Arthur finally sees Mera and explanations to those around them are tossed about quickly, that Aquaman #53 becomes less enjoyable.
While one wants to see the couple reunited and finally wed (again), there’s a nuance to this title that doesn’t produce that hopeful vibe. The circumstances of Arthur’s departure and Mera’s pregnancy are such that it’s easy to fear that this arc will keep them at sixes and sevens. This is probably not helped by the fact that their reunion is not a joyful happy moment. The chaos and danger keep them focused more on staying alive than actually reconnecting. In this way, getting them face-to-face is a bit of a let down, because they don’t get to interact and address the issues between them on any level.
Aquaman #53 is better than the previous issues in the arc, carried by Tristam Maurer’s life-story. While bringing the plotlines together benefits the issue overall, not addressing Mera and Arthur’s conflict keeps a hopeful feeling at bay and casts a long shadow over one of the classic love relationships in comics.