AQUAMAN #32 By Dan Abnett and Riccardo Federeci
AQUAMAN #32 is a stunning example of a brilliant creative team. Dan Abnett tells an emotional, passionate story involving Arthur and Mera. Then, Riccardo Federici continues to amaze readers with his mesmerizing art.
95 %
Atlantis Awaits Its Queen
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AQUAMAN #32 takes a break from the intense action to deliver a thoughtful story. Dan Abnett has truly refashioned AQUAMAN into a fascinating political drama, giving it a distinct place in the DC Universe. Meanwhile, Ricardo Federici’s art is an expressive and diverse example of modern comic book drawing. With the  James Wan and Jason Momoa-lead AQUAMAN movie coming December, this a series that you won’t want to miss!

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With Great Power…

It is possible that the slow pace of AQUAMAN #32 will turn people away. When they pick up an AQUAMAN comic book, they want to see some awesome undersea battles. What I say to those fans is this: patience.

AQUAMAN #32 page 5. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Dan Abnett understands the rules of pacing. The beginning of this arc, “The Crown Comes Down,” was filled with some great action between King Shark and Aquaman. Arthur has reunited with his wife, Mera, and the two reflect on the path that they want to take. AQUAMAN #32 masterfully develops Aquaman and Mera as they decide whether to live a happy life together or stick to their duties.

AQUAMAN #32 provides a sad reflection on superheroes who often sacrifice happiness to make the world a better place. In this comic, Arthur and Mera realize that they might not be able to stay together if they want to help the people of Atlantis. That’s because the Widowhood of Atlantis, led by Reverend Mother Cetea, have decided to back Mera as Queen of Atlantis. As was the case with Arthur, Mera doesn’t want the throne but she reflects that “those who want to rule are always the least well-suited.”

Mera and Arthur dream of spending a quiet life together in their lighthouse in Amnesty Bay alongside their pet, Aquadog. There they won’t have to face the hatred of others and can be content with themselves. Yet, Arthur and Mera know they couldn’t turn their backs on the world. That’s why they will set aside pleasure in their own lives to help improve those of others. That’s the true definition of heroism.

…Comes Great Responsibility

AQUAMAN #32 page 16. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

This comic is called AQUAMAN but I think it’s about time that someone renames it “AQUAMAN AND MERA.” The feisty Xebelian red-head has often stolen the show in this series, and this installment is no exception. Mera has proven herself as one of the best female characters in the DC Universe.

For too long writers have defined Mera by her relationship to Aquaman. I enjoyed Mera in the NEW 52, but much of the time she spent antagonizing Aquaman over his decisions.

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Now, Mera has a destiny of her own as she could very well become Queen of Atlantis. This feels like a natural progression of her character. Mera has spent much of Rebirth learning responsibility and what it means to be a hero. She even alludes to the fact that when she learned Arthur had died, she grieved for too long. Then she had a moment of positive growth when she learned to put said grief aside and become a hero alongside the Justice League. No longer does Mera act like the neglected wife who desperately longs for her husband’s attention. She’s now a hero.

I hope Dan Abnett does make Mera Queen of Atlantis and that she remains monarch for at least a couple of years. The new DC Universe feels like it is unafraid to advance DC storylines. Mera’s reign as Queen would have a meaningful, feminist impact for the DC Universe. This decision could make a real impression on readers, more so in today’s climate.

Art in AQUAMAN #32

I spent a large section of my AQUAMAN #31 review gushing over the Ricardo Federeci’s art. Well, prepare yourself to read me praising this master’s work on AQUAMAN once again. The main thing that excites me so much about looking at Federeci’s art is that it feels so unique from other comic book imagery.

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Looking at Federeci’s art reminds me of other fantastical works’ like those of Alan Lee, who famously illustrates much of the imagery and concept art for THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Federeci’s work feels like a throwback to legendary stories like THE ODYSSEY, with Arthur Curry representing Greek heroes just like Odysseus. His long, blonde hair has a Homeric element to it. This also feels relevant since tales of Atlantis do have their origin in Ancient Greek society. I admire when artists take inspiration from other periods and work outside of their medium to sculpt their own style.

AQUAMAN # 32 page 14. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The best part of Federeci’s work is that, amongst the epic scale and ethereal imagery, the character’s emotion is never lost. This is crucial for AQUAMAN #32 where characterization is essential. The pages with Arthur holding Mera are meaningful and tragic because of the expressions of the characters. Mera looks down sullenly but is resigned to taking on the mantle of Queen. Arthur looks onto her with pure love and agony as he realizes that they might not be able to stay together. Federeci captures the pain in the two lovers’ eyes as they realize this truth. So, it’s in this moment that Arthur and Mera aren’t legendary heroes. They’re two people in love who are resolving their feelings with the weight of their situation.

Final Thoughts

AQUAMAN #32 is a gorgeous, touching story of love and responsibility. It depicts the tragic relationship between Arthur and Mera. I enjoyed every inch of this comic, but if you were disappointed by the lack of fighting then don’t worry. AQUAMAN #33 promises that the war for Atlantis is soon going to heat up. I can’t wait to see how Dan Abnett and Riccardo Federeci are going to conclude this phenomenal arc!

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