Aquaman #43 // Review
A new creative team takes the reigns of Aquaman #43, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, with pencils by Robson Rocha, inks by Daniel Henriques, and colors by Sunny Gho, but can they stack up to the likes of Johns, David, and Abnett? Previously, Aquaman disappeared after seemingly sacrificing himself in DC’s recent Drowned Earth event. Now, he’s washed up on the shore of the mysterious “Village of Unspoken Water”, and he has no memories of his past life. What is this place, why don’t the villagers recognize the world-famous Aquaman, and why has Arthur been deposited on its beach? All serious questions raised by DeConnick in her intriguing first issue.
DeConnick works diligently in crafting the mystery of The Village of Unspoken Water, which carries the weight of this opening chapter. Half of the issue has you wondering why nobody knows who Aquaman is, considering his celebrity status. Fortunately, as the story progresses, DeConnick reveals there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the village and its inhabitants, and she leaves you wanting to dig into the mystery to get more answers.
Arthur, completely unaware of his life as a hero and king, comes across as really likeable under DeConnick’s watch. Maybe more so than he has been in years, actually. He is usually so bogged down in the politics and responsibilities of being a king, or (as seen in recent issues) trying to figure out what his role is if he’s not the king, that it’s hard to pinpoint what his defining personality traits are. DeConnick looks to be stripping all of that away to explore what kind of person he is without the weight of Atlantis on his shoulders. And, guess what? He’s a pretty cool dude when he’s not worried about an entire kingdom. Hopefully, once he inevitably regains his memories, some of that will stick around.
Rocha’s pencils fit this low key, intimate, character-driven story well, allowing the audience to get to know the new Arthur, plus a slew of new cast members that are chock full of personality. Henriques style of inking also fits well with Rocha’s for this non-action based issue, allowing for the cast to take the spotlight. Gho is working with a subdued color palette, but shines when needed to highlight certain scenes. The team, and their styles, might need to change as the book steers back to a more traditional kind of Aquaman story, but for the moment, DeConnick has just the right people in the art department helping to bring this book to life.
Overall, this may not have been the most exciting first issue, but it definitely grabs your attention, and draws you into the mystery laid out by DeConnick. After such a big story like Drowned Earth, it doesn’t hurt to pull back, and reconstruct the character of Aquaman. If done right, the readers could end up with a stronger Arthur Curry, with a more defined set of personality traits that go deeper than “stoic”. Fingers crossed.