Review: Aquaman #56
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Art: Aaron Lopresti & Matt Ryan
Colors: Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Remember DC Universe: Rebirth #1? Do you remember that it included Aquaman proposing to Mera? Ever wonder what happened right after that? There was an engagement party and everything! And a visit from the Trench!
The best thing about Aquaman #56 is that it is not part of the current storyline. Higgins takes the reader back to the beginning of the “Rebirth” era, remember that? Things were hopeful? A little lighter? And 90 % of DC’s books were good to great? Aquaman #56 rekindles those feelings wonderfully, even if an attack by the creatures from the Trench is a massive threat.
The issue is thematically related to Kelly Sue DeConnick’s current run, so it is a bit strange that Kyle Higgins writes the issue. Higgins explores an interesting question that all married couples face- “Are you having kids?” Posed by Bea, it takes both Arthur and Mera by surprise, but it leads to an interesting conversation. Of course this is relevant to the current storyline, because Mera IS pregnant and now after the events of last issue, apparently in a coma.
Arthur’s classic characterization and appearance are a welcomed! Higgins presents an Aquaman who is familiar, and embodies those traits that Mera has come to love. It’s jarring to think of the current take on the character who ran out on Mera after discovering her pregnancy. It’s nice to see that this shift in his character is acknowledged and part of the story. It makes sense to explore the couples feelings on parenthood “back then,” and it is curious that the issue depicts a switch in attitudes. It is perplexing, because it makes the “current” Arthur even more unlikable! There should be another story that explains what the heck happened to him! Remember, he bolted on Mera before he got amnesia.
There are even a few humorous moments that impact the difference between the DC Comics of the “Rebirth” era and the current phase we are in now. Aaron Lopresti does a fine job keeping Arthur looking like Arthur and injecting a hint of whimsy.
Unfortunately, the regular storyline hangs like a pendulum of doom waiting to sweep down on Arthur and Mera. Dropping this issue in shows the shift in tone that’s occurred in the DC Universe since “Rebirth” launched. It’s hard to say when, but after the initial steam of the initiative faded, many titles have gone dark or simply bad as characters have been manipulated into unrecognizable iterations. As enjoyable as Aquaman #56 is, it is a sad reminder that it’s currently a mess for the main character, and the title is better and more enjoyable when he’s not the focus.
If you’ve missed the real Arthur Curry, look no further than Aquaman #56. It may only last this one issue, but this flashback is a great reminder of what he’s like. Even if it leaves you more disappointed with what you’re missing, it’s definitely worth it to check out this (mostly) stand alone tale.