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Aquaman #43 (DC Comics)
Aquaman’s got a big budget movie coming out this week, which means that DC is hoping to have some fabled “new readers” coming into their local comic shops after their trip to the multiplex. To meet that, DC has a new creative team and a new direction on Aquaman, with famed writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist Robson Rocha drawing the panels. While this new start is a bit of a drastic change for someone like me who’s read Aquaman since the New 52 relaunch, there’s enough here to keep me reading to see how it all shakes out.
Following the events of the “Drowned Earth” storyline, Arthur Curry has washed up on shore on a mysterious island, with no memory of who he is and how he got there. Forging a new life on the island with its residents, the new stranger by the name of “Andy” is making his way through the day, helping where he can. But when the sorceress Caille nearly drowns during a ritual, it’s become clear that the man once known as Aquaman will need to descend into the depths once more.
Kelly Sue DeConnick’s script is a pretty big departure from Aquaman stories of the past few years. There’s very little action in this issue, and we only see Arthur in costume for a brief flashback. Usually this kind of change would be a big turn off for a series like Aquaman, but it’s really refreshing here. DeConnick’s script is pretty introspective, but also gives this series a real epic scope that fits the character really well. DeConnick really digs into the headspace of Arthur Curry, and makes him seem really conflicted about his life in a way that’s very engaging. After so much fighting, it’s no surprise that Aquaman may prefer the life he’s built on this island.
Robson Rocha has long been one of the most underrated artists in DC’s stable, but with Aquaman there’s a good chance that he’ll be moving up to the big leagues. Like DeConnick’s script, Rocha’s art gives this issue a mythical epic feel that elevates the issue to a different level. While there’s not a lot of action in this issue, Rocha’s art makes up for it with some truly great splash pages. He even makes the waves crashing on the rocks of the island look epic.
In a lot of ways Aquaman #43 reminds me of Kurt Busiek’s short-lived Sword of Atlantis reboot for the character that occurred in the mid-2000’s. As much as I enjoyed the Aquaman series for the past few years, it was due for a shot in the arm like this. DC could have gone the big, bombastic way to get new readers intrigued in this series, but I applaud them for going the opposite way with this, and I’m excited to see what DeConnick and Rocha have planned for the King of Atlantis.