REVIEW: Aquaman #51, a long-awaited team-up

Aquaman #51 is out 8/21/2019.

By Ander Lilly — If you're an avid Aquaman reader, you know about the importance of Arthur Curry's faithful companion, Aqualad. Whether the mantle was held by Garth or Jackson (Kaldur), Aqualad has been a stalwart ally to Aquaman over the many years of his publication history, helping him weather his most challenging moments and devious foes. Since DC Comics’ New 52 reboot, however, Aqualad hasn't really gotten much of a chance to interact with Aquaman. Garth was introduced during Cullen Bunn's run back in 2015 and has remained a part of his book in some capacity since, but he’s been known as Tempest, rather than Aqualad. Aquaman readers (myself among them) have been eagerly waiting for the reunion of Aquaman and Aqualad, fighting and working beside each other once again. Our wishes have now been granted. In Aquaman #51 by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Robson Rocha, Daniel Henriques, Sunny Gho, and Clayton Cowles, we get the team-up we've long awaited; we get Aqualad back in the fold. 

A lot has happened for the former King of Atlantis since this creative team took over. He lost his memories and ended up in a mysterious village inhabited by a group of sea gods. After helping the sea gods defeat Namma, the sea goddess known as Mother Salt, he took them with him to Amnesty Bay to give them a new home there. It doesn't take long for the rest of the world to find out that Aquaman is alive, and news even reaches the depths of Atlantis where his betrothed rules. Things are a bit rocky for Aquaman and Mera as she accidentally killed him after she revealed she was pregnant to him, and in his own fear, he needed time alone to think. In a fit of fear and anger, she lost control of her powers and "killed" him by accident. Needless to say, that reunion is going to be a bit challenging. 

The strength of Aquaman #51, however, is the return of Aqualad to the main Aquaman book. Now, in this continuity, Arthur and Jackson don't have the same connection and development as they did before the New 52. Readers now get to experience their partnership grow from the beginning, and it's truly an exciting thing to witness. DeConnick focuses on the characters more in this issue rather than filling the book with bombastic action sequences and thrills, and it works perfectly. One of the strengths of her run with Aquaman so far is her portrayal of Arthur Curry as the local, hometown hero. He's a larger than life hero to the world, but when he returns home, he's greeted and treated like one of their own. It's a very unique look at superheroes, one we don't get too often. DeConnick also gives Arthur a more playful and charismatic personality, similar to what we saw with Jason Momoa's portrayal of the character in the recent movie. To me, it's a welcome addition to a character who has often been portrayed as very serious and broody. While DeConnick also gives us plenty of time with a more serious Arthur Curry, the addition of his fun attitude is a welcome change for the aquatic hero. 

Robson Rocha's pencils are fabulous in this issue and while the story is a bit calmer than previous issues he's worked on, his work is no less impressive. Rocha expertly illustrates the various characters in every panel and this is one of his best issues when it comes to expressing facial expressions and emotions. Sunny Gho's colors compliment Rocha and Henriques work masterfully, giving us a full range of mesmerizing artwork for both the scenes in Amnesty Bay and in Atlantis. Gho's green and orange colors for Atlantis are enchanting and fit perfectly for the mythical kingdom. I've said it before, but Aquaman is easily one of the most visually striking comics being published right now. For me, one simple word can sum up this team's work on the book: blockbuster. 

Aquaman #51 is another stellar entry in Kelly Sue DeConnick and Robson Rocha's run. The only criticism I had would be that those taking the cover at face value might be a bit underwhelmed, but it's a very small issue. This second chapter in the "Amnesty" arc sets up the beginning of Arthur's friendship with Kaldur in this continuity and offers a sneak peek at a new threat that is coming for Aquaman and the citizens of Amnesty Bay. 

Overall: This book is clicking on every level for me and it's easily one of the best books being published by DC Comics. Make sure you pick this issue up. 9.5/10

Aquaman #51
Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Robson Rocha
Inker: Daniel Henriques
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
DC Comics
Price: $3.99

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Ander Lilly is an avid Aquaman fan and comic reader. He’s probably talking about Aquaman somewhere.