Aquaman #45 // Review
Aquaman #45, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, with pencils by Robson Rocha, inks by Daniel Henriques, and colors by Sunny Gho, serves as a sort of interlude to Arthur’s story of self discovery, but struggles to make the readers care about anyone but the titular hero. Previously, Aquaman washed up on a mysterious island, with no memory of his past life, and a fear of water. After spending some time living among the locals, he decided to embark on a mission to reunite Caille (the youngest of the residents) with her mother, Namma, who had been calling to her. The people of the island revealed themselves as gods, and helped Arthur rediscover his connection to the sea just in time to send he and Caille off on a tiny boat together. Now, the still-amnesiac Aquaman, and his passenger, must make their way across the ocean to their destiny...whatever that may be.
As stated above, this issue serves as a break in Aquaman’s story, in order to deliver some much-needed background on Caille and her mother. Unfortunately, this backstory was delivered in the dryest, and most space-consuming way possible. Caille, a character the readers know next-to-nothing about, is given an origin story, which is not without interesting twists and turns. But those twists and turns don’t mean much when the readers aren’t invested in the character at all. She has been around all of two issues before this one, so a giant info dump that spans the entire third issue of the arc just seems like filler. Had all of this information been delivered in a more organic way, say, within the story of Arthur and Caille finally meeting her mom (and after a couple more issues of getting to know Caille, herself) it could have hit with much more dramatic impact.
Also, there’s the key fact that, even though Aquaman is in a good bit of this issue, he’s pretty much a non-entity in the story. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the drive of the DeConnick’s arc, so far, has been Arthur rediscovering himself, so a shift in focus three issues in completely robs the story of its momentum. Again, this entire issue could have been folded into another part of the arc, while still keeping the focus largely on Aquaman. As it is, the readers are left wanting to get back to Arthur’s recovery of his former self, instead of caring about Caille’s backstory.
The art team has a tough time making this story work, as well. Rocha, while a fine artist, feels uninspired on this issue. There is no big, superheroic action for him to sink his teeth into, and his designs for the gods featured in the book seem less than exciting, especially when it comes to Mother Salt. Similarly, the inks of Henriques, and colors of Gho, seem dull, adding no excitement to the already-bland story. All of these artists are capable of much better, which makes it seem like they were either having a hard time gelling with each other, or they were just plain bored with the story.
Overall, this was a sleepy, little issue that, while managing to add something to the story, did so in the least engaging way possible. If the rest of this arc is going to revolve heavily around Caille and her mother, then DeConnick is going to have to find a way to make the readers give a damn about them.