Review: Aquaman #55
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art: Robson Rocha & Daniel Henriques
Colors: Sunny Gho
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
It’s the showdown between Arthur and Black Manta, but Mera and Jackson Hyde steal the spotlight while Tristam Maurer’s true secret is finally revealed!
The best aspects of DeConnick’s run on Aquaman have been her character work with the supporting cast. This issue is no different as she turns in her best issue to date with Aquaman #55. And, it’s not just Mera, Jackson Hyde and Black Manta get a lot of page time, as well.
Surprisingly, it’s Black Manta’s dead father who steals the show, however. The giant robotic apparatus that doubles as Manta’s ship has been programmed with the journals of Manta’s father. The construct thus has memories of being a father. It’s an interesting hybrid that really works for this situation. It’s particularly emotional as Manta’s been raging over his father’s death at Arthur’s hands years ago.
Manta gets no satisfaction through killing Arthur partially because Manta’s “father” refuses to engage the self-destruct mechanism which would result in killing them both. Manta can’t believe his father would refuse, but is unable to carry it out on his own as Mera and Jackson Hyde, using their aquakenesis step in to save the day.
Over the past few issues, Jackson Hyde has been trying to get Aquaman to be his mentor. At the same time, De Connick has teased that Jackson may end up siding with his father. When push comes to shove this issue, he tells Mera directly that he wants to do the right thing and be a good guy. It seems like Jackson Hyde has found his mentor in Mera rather than Arthur. After all, she has experience with aquakenesis and is from Xebel herself.
Lastly, the surprise twist in Tristam Maurer’s reason for appearing is unexpected enough to be impactful and interesting. Also, it mitigates Arthur from any wrongdoing. Additionally, when Arthur does get some page time, he sound like good old Arthur Curry of old when he tries to get Manta to just stop fighting with him for the sake of everyone around them.
Arthur and Mera’s first face-to-face in months is a little awkward, probably due mostly to the awkward nature of the storyline that’s been running. Arthur leaving a pregnant Mera behind sure doesn’t say “I love you.” Mercifully, after getting those words out in Aquaman #55, Mera more or less takes center stage for the rest of the issue. If Arthur doesn’t get his act together, it will be best for him to get shoved out of his book in favor of the supporting cast.
As with the past few issue’s of this run, DeConnick provides strong character work for the supporting cast making it easier to ignore the new approach to Aquaman himself. Aquaman #55 is particularly satisfying in its complex treatment of the relationship between Black Manta and his father. Ed Brubaker once had an excellent run on Marvel’s Captain America that included a long stretch when the main character was deceased. The stories focused on Sharon Carter, Bucky, the Falcon and Black Widow. Perhaps, Aquaman is ready for that type of storytelling.