Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Penciler: Robson Rocha
Inker: Daniel Henriques
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Rating: 9/10 Mecha Mantas
I’m not even gonna waste time dipping my toes in with an intro, let’s just dive right into some spoilery waters for this issue. AQUAMAN #52 picks up from the last issue’s spooky stories turning into a reality for Arthur and the newest residents of Amnesty Bay. Aquaman, his newest Aqualad, and Tula do the best they can to aid in fighting off this unstoppable nightmare only to be left in shock as it vanishes without a trace. While one threat may be gone, for now, another lurks in the North Atlantic as Black Manta and his mecha daddy does some bonding with some destruction of Atlantean property.
This issue was outrageous! Kelly Sue DeConnick and the rest of the creative team brought their A-game with this one. Rocha’s work in this gives practically nonstop action as our heroes go toe to tentacle with this creature. The motions each character takes from panel to panel are as fluid as the water itself. Everyone’s expressions perfectly reflect the scene of chaos and terror at the sight of this monster. All but one. Jackson Hyde. Aqualad is diving headfirst into action with a lot of excitement, looking to prove himself to Arthur as a new partner. This perfectly sets up the transition to Jackson’s guilt when failing to save a man’s life.
A lot of Rocha’s art receives great compliments from Henriques on inks and Gho’s colors. The night is dark and yet Gho keeps everything from blending in during the battle with the beast. With the faint glow being given off from the lighthouse, as well as the purples, oranges, reds, and yellows, nothing feels the loss. The inks from Henriques here really do well with the number of shadows created, giving everything more character. The highlight of this whole issue had to be Aqualad. The way Gho colored his magic blades and tattoos, along with the inks here, really made him stand out as one of the coolest characters.
Such an action-heavy issue, and throughout we are met with perfect dialogue to match the moment thanks to DeConnick. While it was all business with Arthur and the bunch, it was Aqualad and his dad (and mecha granddad) that we're able to provide us both sides of light-hearted tone and seriousness. Clayton Cowles’ lettering helps this by emphasizing DeConnick’s voice through Jackson’s D&D references, to feelings of failure as well as Manta’s reconnecting with his dad and what new father-son activities they can get up to.
AQUAMAN has been nothing but spectacular since DeConnick has started up on the series. After the first arc of her run on AQUAMAN, it’s been pretty exciting as we watch Arthur regain his life. The anticipation of his reunion with Mera has been building up, but while hope is on the horizon, DeConnick reminds us that thanks to Luthor’s gift to Black Manta, danger lurks in the deep as well. If you are looking for a time to get into AQUAMAN, this is it!