Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Aaron Lopresti
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics
As superhero comics punch, thrash, and tear their way into double and triple-digit issue numbers, all those action sequences and high stakes can leave you exhausted. Every now and then, an issue is sprinkled in that slows the narrative down and allows the reader a glimpse into the complex mental workings of otherwise bulletproof supergods.
That’s what Aquaman #56 is for.
Written by Kyle Higgins with art by Aaron Lopresti, this is a story that’s wedged in the past. It’s a quick and easy issue with low stakes but high characterization. It’s not meant to be the insanity and superheroics normally found in a solo book of one of the founders of the Justice League. It’s a quieter story with a more introspective nature that’s set against a backdrop of chaos. Higgins found a sliver of breathing room in Aquaman’s loaded continuity to tell a more personal story and one that‘s sure to resonate with a huge portion of millennial readers.
Set right after the Justice League’s scuffle with The Kindred during DC’s 2016 Rebirth initiative, Aquaman #56 explores Arthur and Mera’s feelings about bringing a child into the tumultuous world they inhabit. It ties into the larger narrative going on in Aquaman right now, and Higgins weaves a perspective that’s both practical and terrifying. Practical in the fact that these are two intelligent adults discussing a life-altering decision yet terrifying because their conversation hits very close to home. It’s an apt and relatable struggle that many people deal with in the real world. Is this really the environment you want to bring a child into? Arthur and Mera aren’t so sure about it, and their conflicted feelings on the matter mirror what many couples in the real world struggle with. Higgins cleverly places this conversation between Arthur and Mera during a one-off adventure that juxtaposes the dangers these two characters live in. Arthur and Mera are in a bar talking with Batman and Wonder Woman about their recent engagement when their services are called upon due to an offshore oil platform attack by The Trench. As the story progresses and the one-and-done adventure is wrapped up, so too are their opinions on whether a child makes sense for them or not.
The art is exactly what we’ve come to expect from an industry veteran like Aaron Lopresti. It stumbles in places but excels in many more. Lopresti knows exactly which panels to give gravitas to and which to let breathe. Lopresti has refined his expertise in storytelling over decades of comic work and has managed to always produce a visual narrative that’s both captivating and interesting.
Ultimately, Aquaman #56 is a wonderful story. It’s a necessary story about two superpowered people dealing with a very normal dilemma. The POWS and ZAPS may get you through the door, but it’s the humanity that keeps you in the aquaclub.