Aquaman has long been considered the butt of a joke. This is most evident in the Super Friends cartoon, where he didn’t do much other than to talk to fish. But with a devoted comics fanbase, as well as a big-budgeted blockbuster starring Jason Momoa with all his muscle and charisma, suddenly Aquaman is more than a joke. Enter Kelly Sue DeConnick and Robson Rocha’s Aquaman Vol. 1: Unspoken Water.
With another volume one on the horizon, will this be a good starting-off point into the world of Arthur Curry? Found washed up in the mysterious town of Unspoken Water without a kingdom or his memory, the former Atlantean king, now named Arausio, has adjusted well to his new home, where the people fear the wrathful sea. With an evil rising out of the depths, the amnesiac Arthur and his enigmatic friend Caille journey across the ocean to confront this threat, while finding out who they truly are outside of Unspoken Water.
Given her Marvel bibliography and Image titles such as Pretty Deadly and B---h Planet, DeConnick is not the most obvious choice to write Aquaman. She has commented that Aquaman is more of an underdog compared to his fellow Justice Leaguers, which is an interesting angle to take with the character, who is introduced here with no memory and power. It may be frustrating for longtime readers seeing their hero stripped away from his title, but does work as a gateway for new readers, without having to retell the origin.
Although James Wan’s movie was not an influence on this book, both share similar problems. In five issues, this arc is jam-packed with story by balancing the journey of self-discovery for both leads as well as this new mythology that DeConnick has created about the fantasy behind the seven seas. Although you do get some characterization from Arthur and Caille as they wrestle with their own identities, you’ll wish to spend more time in their company, which is built more on friendship than romance. Speaking of romance, the constant teasing of Mera is frustrating. Given her recent popularity, you’d think that DeConnick would do something interesting with her. Hopefully she will pay off later on.
If there’s one thing to highly praise about this volume, it would be the exquisite art. From Robson Rocha’s penciling to Daniel Henriques’ inking to Sunny Gho’s coloring, there is lots texture in every page. Particularly with the penciling from Rocha, he gets a good kick out of illustrating the aquatic godlike beings that are reminiscent of Greg Capullo’s monsters.
Kelly Sue DeConnick writing Aquaman is not the most obvious choice, but this is a solid first volume that serves as an interesting gateway for the character and to show where this new stage of his life will lead to.