Review: Aquaman #65
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art: Miguel Mendonca
Colors: Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Arthur and Orm finally have their showdown with armies behind them. And, Arthur has a big surprise for Mera when they return to Amnesty Bay.
Since DeConnick began her run on Aquaman back in issue #43, it’s mostly felt like we’ve just been waiting to get back to where we started. For the most part, Aquaman #65 still feels that way. There’s that old saying about taking two steps backwards in order to take one step forward. While there is wisdom in that, moving a character backwards with amnesia is more annoying than interesting. So, having Arthur back where he should’ve been after “Drowned Earth,” is good. He even appears to have a shorter beard and hair- like he got that shave and a haircut between issues!
It’s important that Arthur and Orm have their showdown and it’s great to see Arthur rally his friends and comrades around him. Furthermore, the outcome suggests that Atlantis will really be moving forward in the way it functions politically. What that means isn’t exactly clear, but it change is certainly in the waters that are contained in Atlantis.
There should be no surprise that Arthur and Mera do get married at the end of the issue, it’s not the first time they’ve been married of course, but it doesn’t appear that the couple recall any of their pre-Flashpoint life as Barry Allen and Iris West do. The fact that they have a child in tow is also a plus. So, things have moved forward with the marriage and the birth of Andy Curry.
Unfortunately, the little forward movements could’ve been executed in a much more effective manner overall. While this issue does feel rushed, it’s obvious that DeConnick is trying to fit everything in at the last minute. Whatever the reason, it accentuates the weaknesses in the overall story. The use of the Soap Opera amnesia cliche is even more obvious as a waste of time. It wasn’t used to fundamentally change something about the character or his important relationships. It’s sad, but if it had it could’ve been even worse!
The Old Gods played almost no role in the second half of the run, often sitting around Amnesty Bay. And, here in Aquaman #65 they are little more than wedding guests. The standout of the Old Gods is Caille. While she doesn’t do much her, DeConnick infused her with a real personality that was likable and tenacious. She seems the most real of them and it’s a shame there wasn’t more of her.
What’s coming clear is that it seems like DeConnick wanted to base her arc on Homer’s The Odyssey. There are bits and pieces here and there that seem like she’s utilizing it, and then others that don’t appear to fit at all. The biggest downfall is the use of the amnesia. It doesn’t fit with the theme of restoration that is seen in The Odyssey.
Finally, the showdown with Orm comes off as a big tease. There didn’t need to be a big battle, but a little more drama wouldn’t have hurt. It could be a consequence of the rushed feeling of the issue overall. Orm seems to have just taken five steps backwards without any positive character movement. He’s reduced to a one-note villain again.
While it’s nice to see Arthur and Mera finally married (this was teased way back in DC Universe Rebirth #1), the journey has been a bit underwhelming (The best character work was with Jackson and grandpa Jesse). The idea that Atlantis is moving forward with a different political agenda is interesting and would’ve made for a better story than returning Orm to the vengeful brother for another confrontation for the throne with Arthur. It’s worth reading this issue for the small forward movements, but it’s a headscratcher when one realizes the missed opportunities.