Aquaman and Aqualad together at last, the old gods need a home, Mera wants very specific flowers, and someone doesn’t believe in money limits for gift exchanges. Your Major Spoilers review of Aquaman #51 awaits.
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Pencils: Robson Rocha
Inks: Daniel Henriques
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Editor Alex Antone
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: August 21, 2019
Previously in Aquaman: Arthur Curry has left Atlantis in order to find a home for The Old Gods of Unspoken Water. Mera has made her decision about whom to marry and now there’s a wedding to plan. Aqualad is in search of a mentor and has decided that there is no one better to do that than the legendary Aquaman himself and Black Manta is on the outs with his old villain-y chums. All the major players are ready to start the next chapter of their lives and set out to accomplish that.
A QUIET MOMENT
With Jackson A.K.A. Aqualad, freshly out of jail, he and Arthur finally have a moment to talk and while he isn’t resistant to conversation it seems Arthur doesn’t want to have the type of talk Jackson wants. The two head out to Amnesty Island to begin work resettling a group of displaced elder sea gods. Elsewhere, in Atlantis, Mera is neck deep in wedding preparations, yet still finds a way to make one seriously impressive political maneuver. Back on land Arthur, Jackson, the new inhabitants of Amnesty Island and a few visitors from the mainland have relit the lighthouse on Amnesty Island and settle in to share some stories by the firelight. Jackson persists on defining his relationship with Aquaman, but it’s clear that it’s going to take a bit before Arthur opens up to the idea of a sidekick, or any synonym for sidekick. Yet, the peacefulness can’t last forever and the island is besieged by a Lovecraftian nightmare. This issue wraps up with an epilogue involving none other than Black Manta and Lex Luthor. The two verbally spar a bit before the chase is cut to and Luthor unveils the newest weapon to be added to Black Manta’s arsenal, a mech of course.
LITTLE ACTION DOESN’T MEAN BORING
I like punching and kicking and explosions as much as the next person, but there’s something about a subdued story that gives some time to just letting characters talk and interact that I really enjoy. Aquaman #51 is definitely the latter, thankfully though, it’s a well done one of those. There’s no great reveals, or overly dramatic heart outpourings, just a day. What’s really nice about this issue is that nothing feels artificially inserted to create a moment, all the way up until the ending. I understand that there needs to be some sort of hook that brings readers to the next issue, I just think I would’ve preferred to have a one and done with this issue. The sections in Atlantis feel a little tacked on, but they work on their own. Mera’s little ploy to settle the debt to the 9th is really clever and makes me want more of that particular plot.
IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS
I haven’t always been a fan of Robson Rocha’s pencils. To me his work has always been competent but nothing really jumped out at me as being special. With this issue though, I think his art really shines. With this issue lacking action, most of the emotion and movement has to be carried by subtle things, which Robson really does well here. I particularly enjoy the series of panels with Arthur looking out into the ocean and then Jackson joining him. This is a nice relationship building moment between the two and a lot of the legwork is done without dialogue. As for the colors, Sunny Gho’s work is very nice. Specifically the wide shots of the ocean and sky, and the bits around the fire are lovely.
BOTTOM LINE: A NICE PLACE TO CATCH YOUR BREATH
I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is a great jumping on point, there’s still a lot of things at work here that are carryovers from previous issues, but everything in this issue is very straightforward and doesn’t feel reliant on those past issues. You know those TV episodes where the plot comes to a standstill and we get nice moments of our characters just relaxing and having quiet moments with each other before the show ramps back up heading for the finale? That’s what this issue feels like and it just so happens that those types of episodes are some of my favorite. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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Aquaman #51 is a quiet, inoffensive issue that ends with a bang that introduces the next strife and drama for the characters involved.