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‘Aquaman #51’ (review)

Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art by Robson Rocha
and Daniel Henriques
Published by DC Comics

 

Aquaman #51 takes us from the landmark anniversary issue to a much more grounded and familiar place for the King of Atlantis.

Well, maybe he’s not exactly the King he once was, as Mera now rules Atlantis as it’s queen.

Arthur is now back in Maine, on Amnesty Island settling in the Elder Sea Gods to their new home.

Aqualad Jackson Hyde has found himself in Maine also, struggling to make himself useful to Arthur, as an assistant, as terms like sidekick don’t appeal to him.

In fact, not even Aquaman is sure he’s ready to have a ward by his side but he keeps him busy.

Lots of classic Aquaman characteristics shown in this particular issue, his telepathy with large sea creatures is used to help the Elder Sea Gods carry boxes ashore to their new home.

I couldn’t help but ask myself how without opposable thumbs, these creatures can strap crates to their backs but hey, it’s a comic book, right?

In a cinematic jump cut we have Mera, who is set up to marry someone else, in Atlantis before an arranged marriage.

She delays the services by sending her future husband to harvest a hard to get flower from the Ninth Trench, thereby also stimulating the economy and creating jobs for the natives. She is using this as an excuse to further her state’s interests while also protecting her personal life from a big royal wedding. We all know her and Arthur will end up together but this time for Mera running the underwater kingdom is fun to watch as she approaches things differently than Aquaman would. Kelly Sue is giving Mera more dimensions to her character as head of state.

Mera’s scene is just for two pages below the sea, and ends with a panel of Mera staring out into the abyss.

In the next spread, we find Arthur doing the same, star crossed lovers in a cinematic trope that wasn’t bad, just obvious enough as to the storytelling technique for me to notice and point out. Nothing beats the way they do these transitions on CW’s Arrow, nearly every cut scene has characters sharing a moment with visual continuity!

In the end the lighthouse on Amnesty Island is brought back to life, and with it a new threat in the form of a Cthulhu monster from or inspired by the works of the original lighthouse keeper and creative mind Tristan Mauler. Mauler produced fiction in this world, as well as games and others. He seems like Aquaman’s version of Stephen King. What happens in Maine, stays in Maine, I hear!

I enjoyed the issue but feel robbed by this Year of the Villain tag at the end.

Across the DC books, this seems to be dealt with differently, and my least favorite delivery method for a crossover is delivered here. Kelly Sue tells her story and then jams in a few pages at the end—we used to call them backups—but now this just part of out already short 20 page stories. The tag gets disconnected from larger narrative of the story, but somehow ties in, but mostly feels like an extra fin in Aquaman. The tag at the end of #51 is a reveal of a giant robot with Black Manta and a hologram of Luthor.

Didn’t we just have this villain unity nonsense with Legion of Doom in Snyder’s Justice League?

So far, I’m not backing the crossover entitled “Year of the Villain”, it is coming off forced and interrupting the flow of this book and the other monthly I am currently reviewing on the site, Wonder Woman.

 

 

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