REVIEW: Aquaman #52 is an action-heavy issue that lets its artwork shine

Aquaman #52 is out 9/18/2019.

By Ander Lilly — When last we saw the former King of Atlantis, he was adjusting to life back in Amnesty Bay after time away on the mysterious island, "Unspoken Water." After recovering his memories, Arthur Curry now has a lot to take care of, including finding his love, Mera. Meanwhile, his arch-nemesis, Black Manta, has plans of his own — plans that involve a new way to bring down his enemy with help from Lex Luthor. Last issue, we were introduced to Black Manta's latest threat to Arthur: the Mecha Manta, a large killing machine programmed to think and act like his late father. If Aquaman thought dealing with Namma was trying, he's in for a whole lot more now! In Atlantis, meanwhile, Mera is doing her best to postpone the royal marriage, and even though she's named a suitor, the Widowhood is relentless about getting the ceremony underway. 

Throughout this second arc of Kelly Sue DeConnick's Aquaman run, there have been hints of a new threat in the water. Through flashbacks of Captain Mauer, who had built the original lighthouse in Amnesty Bay, we were introduced to a Lovecraft-esque monster that plagued the coastline. This creature made itself present in last month's issue, wrecking havoc upon Aquaman and company, threatening not only our protagonists, but Amnesty Bay itself. DeConnick has done a marvelous job building up new mythology for Aquaman and instilling a sense of fantasy and mystery into this title again. With the inclusion of the sea gods, the mysterious sea monster, and even Black Manta's new role, DeConnick has truly given us a thrilling tale full of mystery, wonder, and suspense. 

This month's issue, however, is a chance for ongoing artist, Robson Rocha, to really shine. Without going into spoilers, Rocha gets to play with large battle sequences and exciting moments that involve Aquaman, the newly-returned Aqualad, and the rest of Arthur's allies as the giant, aquatic leviathan attacks the surface. Rocha's pencils are thrilling as he's able to capture the energy, strength, and even brutality of these fight sequences. Rocha does an exceptional job with facial expressions as well, especially his work with Jackson Hyde. Aqualad is still getting used to being a hero, and he's experiencing the thrills, the excitement, and the horror of battle. Rocha captures all of these emotions that our young hero is experiencing. Also, DeConnick making Aqualad a total nerd is an absolutely perfect interpretation of the character, one that I personally love. The leviathan's design is impressive, too, as Rocha blends a mix of Lovecraftian inspiration as well as something more satanic which is befitting for the monster. 

Daniel Henriques inks and Sunny Gho's colors make the artwork in the book pop. I couldn’t help but stop and admire some of the panels where the sunlight glides across the character's bodies, all of which is illustrated and colored so beautifully. There were a few moments where the background was completely dark, then there was light, then completely dark again, and while this isn’t a huge criticism, I was a bit confused on what time of the day (or night) it was supposed to be. Still, Henriques and Gho did a great job of making sure the shadows didn't blend into each other during the chaotic fight scenes, so I applaud their efforts there. 

The plot takes a backseat to the art in this action-heavy issue, and while that isn't a criticism, anyone eager to see the multiple ongoing plots pushed forward might be slightly disappointed. Still, it's only fair that this issue gets to belong to the art team as DeConnick has done a marvelous job creating a new Aquaman status quo. Now, we get to sit back and enjoy the blockbuster action as Aquaman leaps into battle. 

Aquaman #52 is another excellent issue in Kelly Sue DeConnick's Aquaman run. While the plot isn't pushed forward too much, the visuals in this issue are enough to keep the audience engaged. Aquaman is a series that exemplifies a creative team perfectly in sync with one another, and because of this perfect union, we're treated to one of the best superhero books being published today. 

Overall: The story is great. The pencils are great. The colors, the inks, the lettering...everything is done masterfully. This issue is another beautifully-constructed chapter, and while it might not reach the heights of previous issues, it is well-worth the time and money. 8.5/10

Aquaman #52
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.