Aquaman #44 // Review
Is writer Kelly Sue DeConnick trying to build a better Arthur Curry? Aquaman #44, with pencils by Robson Rocha, inks by Daniel Enriques, and colors by Sunny Gho, might just be the first step in that process. Previously, Arthur washed up on the shores of a mysterious island with no memories of who he was, or where he came from. He was also oddly afraid of water, and none of the residents of the island seemed to recognize him, despite his status as a world-famous hero. Going by the name the islanders gave him--”Andy”--he sought to fit in, while seeking answers. Now, he has been offered a chance to uncover his past, but he must reunite the youngest of the island’s residents with her powerful, and possibly dangerous mother.
DeConnick, despite going for a slow burn story, doesn’t make her readers wait long for answers. The second issue into her run, she is already providing big reveals about the older occupiers of the island that she set up in her first issue. No, this isn’t the most exciting Aquaman story you have ever read, but DeConnick is crafting a well-told deconstruction of the character that is as good as any recent tale about the aquatic hero. And, if this issue is any indication, the story isn’t content to stand still. It’s moving forward, questions are being answered, and the character of Arthur “Andy” Curry is evolving constantly.
Speaking of the main character of the book, DeConnick seems to be deconstructing Aquaman, but possibly for the purposes of putting him back together better than ever. After having stripped everything away from Arthur in the previous issue, she is now starting the process of building him back up. The only question is, will Aquaman be the same, or will he be something completely different when the rebuilding is complete? Either way, Arthur’s hero’s journey is off to an interesting start.
There is also a nice scene with Mera in the opening of this issue that serves dual purposes for the story. Not only is it a much-needed break from the mysterious island Arthur has been stranded on, but it also sets up a ticking clock on Aquaman getting back to his normal life. This is a well-placed tension builder on DeConnick’s part, because it gives Arthur a reason (even if he’s unaware of it) to become the hero he is meant to be again, and get back to the love of his life before it’s too late.
While Rocha’s pencils may not be the flashiest in DC’s stable, they do seem to be a good fit for this subdued type of story DeConnick is telling. He draws with great detail that suits a more intimate tale, so it works well for the character piece the readers are receiving. Normally, Rocha would be best placed in a Batman book, but this seems to be a the perfect place for him to be at the moment. Enriques and Gho, on inks and colors, also enrich this personal Aquaman story greatly, drawing you in with the darker tones, but hitting you with epic visuals when magic and fire come into play. No doubt, this book will change visually as it goes, and gets further away from the simple island tale it started as, but this art team seems up to the challenge.
If you’re looking for a change of pace from the same old Aquaman comics, this is the story for you. It can honestly be said that no one has done this type of character arc with Arthur Curry in recent memory. He’s no longer the hero the readers know, and sure, he’ll inevitably remember who he is...but there is no guarantee that he’ll be that same person once all is said and done. Arthur is about to embark on a journey of self-discovery, and by definition, no one remains unchanged after that type of event.