Aquaman is one comic book character that I’ve never been a big fan of. While I’ve tried out a few comic book runs nothing has grabbed my attention to become invested in the Aquaman franchise. But with the Aquaman movie now out I thought this was a good time to try again. It helps that DC Comics has tapped Kelly Sue DeConnick as the new writer for Aquaman. DeConnick had a fantastic run on Captain Marvel as Carol Danvers took over that role a few years ago. Due to that work I’ve become a big fan of DeConnick’s. DC Comics being able to get her to write Aquaman makes this a series I am instantly intrigued about. What will DeConnick bring to the character? Let’s find out with Aquaman #43.
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Robson Rocha
Inker: Daniel Henriques
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Near the shore a woman is seen walking through a storm to leave a rabbit at some sort of stone structure.
Nearby Aquaman spots the woman but says nothing.
A little later Aquaman goes into a cabin and mentions that Caille, the woman walking through the storm, is going to get herself killed. The couple inside the cabin, Loc and Wee, mention that Caille is the only fool that would walk through a storm. As they sit to eat some soup Aquaman asks if it is okay if he stayed with Loc and Wee for the night. They say that is fine.
The next day Caille watches the sunrise as the sky clears over the Village Of Unspoken Water.
Aquaman finds Caille again. Caille greets Aquaman by the name of Arausio. While they talk Caille reminds Aquaman that she found and saved him after she found him injured during a storm.
Aquaman mentions to Caille that the others call him Andy. Caille says that Arausio is a much more fitting name for him. This causes Aquaman to admit he still doesn’t remember anything of his life. Caille says that is because Aquaman didn’t have a life before arriving to this village as he was born the night she found him.
They then get into argument about the sea when Wee finds them to mention that their nets are filled with fish.
Down at the shore Aquaman gets in the water to help Loc and the other villagers pull in the net filled with fish. Loc loses his grip as a wave hits him. Aquaman quickly throws Loc a rope and pulls him onto the shore before he drowns.
As storm clouds start to form the fishermen find that the fish they caught are all dead and rotten. Caille walks into the water and says that the ocean is hurt. Wee comments that it must be Namma, who the villagers think is poisoning the water.
Later that night now alone at the shore Caille starts some sort of ritual.
Back at the cabin Loc tells Aquaman that the ocean brought all the current residents to this village for being disrespectful. He goes on to say that they are all trying to earn the favor of the ocean again except for Namma. They say that because Namma felt no shame for her actions the villagers exiled Namma for her hatred of the ocean but kept her daughter, Caille, with them.
Loc then makes an offer to Aquaman. He says that if Aquaman returns Caille to Namma and make peace with her they will let Aquaman drink the unspoken water so he can regain his memories. Aquaman looks at a cup with the unspoken water in it and sees the reflection of Mera, who he does not recognize.
Aquaman realizes the villagers have done something to him and runs out to the cliffs. As the villagers surround him Aquaman spots Caille with a giant tidal wave near her.
Aquaman runs to protect her and when he does the tidal wave splits in half around him and Caille. Caille states the ocean has plans for Aquaman. End of issue.
The Good: Kelly Sue DeConnick begins her run on Aquaman in a very unexpected way. Whereas you might expect some crazy adventure in Atlantis, like in the new movie, DeConnick goes a completely different route in Aquaman #43. While not all of it works, what is presented in Aquaman #43 is intriguing enough to drive this first story arc forward.
What intrigued me most about Aquaman #43 was that the set-up reminds me somewhat of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. Like that game Aquaman washes ashore with a major mystery around the island that he finds himself on. That mystery has enough intrigue built around it to help push the narrative of what Aquaman has to go through is dark and mysterious.
Aquaman losing his memory of his past life also gives an interesting hook to the Unspoken Water that has a great, unknown power. The way DeConnick presents the Unspoken Water makes what exactly its relation is to Aquaman and Atlantis very intriguing. It is another element in Aquaman’s corner of the DC Universe that could play a larger role in the future. It is also distinct enough not to feel like old material, but rather a new thing that is helping shape the world Aquaman is a part of.
What was also good about Aquaman #43 is the fact that Aquaman isn’t kept in the dark for to long. Drawing out this type of thing for a main character is always a weakness for this type of story. But by having Aquaman quickly realize that he is being used by the villagers and Unspoken Water it opens things up for better character development in future issues.
Which is exactly the step that this issue needed to make the story around Namma and Caille move forward. DeConnick gives us enough information on both characters in Aquaman #43 to understand there is a bigger picture in the plans for them. What role they will play in the future of this series could add a new ally or villain that is not connected to Atlantis or something else Aquaman has come up against before.
Given the nature of Aquaman #43 Robson Rocha art style fits in well with the mystery DeConnick was building around the Unspoken Water. There was a constant sense of danger for Aquaman that was not necessarily physical. The aura around all the villagers felt dark and sinister, even when Aquaman was seen smiling with Loc and Wee.
The Bad: The biggest thing missing from Aquaman #43 was the compelling supporting cast for this series. Taking Aquaman out of Atlantis was something that was felt throughout the issue. There was a feeling that Aquaman was missing one of the biggest part of himself. That certainly added to the issue in respect to the new villagers introduced. But not having Atlantis present outside of a brief appearance from Mera.
Overall: Aquaman #43 delivered an unexpected start to Kelly Sue DeConnick. In taking Aquaman out of his normal Atlantis setting DeConnick created an intriguing mystery around a new village and the Unspoken Water. The story moved at a quick enough pace that it never dragged with Aquaman not being left in the dark of what was going for too long. That makes this a nice starting point to see what else DeConnick has planned for this series.