Spoilers ahead for this week's Aquaman #43.
The new direction in Aquaman has him suffering from amnesia, separated from the people he loves and unable to even summon a memory of his own name. But he’s somehow able to control the waves of the ocean and make the locals swoon over his muscles.
Then again, in this story, the movement of the waves around Aquaman might just be the ocean’s way of protecting him, because the book’s new cast insists that the ocean has feelings and magical powers.
The brand new status quo for Aquaman comes at the hand of a new creative team, writer Kelley Sue DeConnick and penciller Robson Rocha, who are kicking off their run in this week’s Aquaman #43.
The separation of Aquaman from the world was set up in Aquaman/Justice League: Drowned Earth #1, when the hero drove a ship and magic trident into a giant kraken to not only destroy the monster, but seemingly to sacrifice his own life.
But if Disney’s Prince Eric can survive the ship-skewering of a villain, then obviously a water-breather like Aquaman can survive the same. Even Wonder Woman “sensed” that old Arthur was alive somewhere, although she apparently made no effort to find him.
So the Story Goes…
As Aquaman #43 picked up Arthur Curry’s story, he has drifted through the ocean and been pulled from the waves by a woman named Caille. She lives in an isolated village inhabited by other people who washed up on shore.
The locals called their new arrival by the name “Andy,” after they recognized the “A” on his belt (so…they’re European?). But Caille named him Arausio, after the Celtic water god (but also a name she admits evolved to mean “orange”… so…they’re French?).
Whatever their origins, they all came from different places, and they believe the ocean brought them to this location as punishment. But with Aquanan’s arrival, there’s a sense that (because he’s so manly and strong and muscle-y), his arrival indicates that the sea has sent them a new champion.
Aquaman comes through as a hero when he rescues people from near-drownings a couple times, but these people have a much bigger problem.
They don’t have any protein because all the fish they catch in their nets are rotten.
Caille appears to be combatting the problem with some kind of religious offering (as she burns candles by the shore, performs dances, and sacrifices rabbits - something Aquaman says is stupid when the people need protein).
The strange fear of the ocean isn’t just something Caille believes in. An old couple named Loc and Wee explain to Aquaman that they believe the ocean is being poisoned by a woman named Namma because they did something naughty to her a few years ago.
Legend of Namma
As Aquaman sits with Loc and Kee at their oceanfront home, they explain that the people in the village all realized their punishment after they arrived here and “wished to earn back the favor of the ocean.”
The artwork implies that the people left rabbit offerings to the ocean. So this is apparently a thing here.
But there was a woman among them that didn’t participate in their animal sacrifices. Or as Loc and Wee put it, she “raged against the sea.”
Her name was Namma, and according to the art, she had wild hair and spots on her arms and legs. And she took the rabbit carcasses off the altar.
“She loathed the ocean that would dare to judge her,” Wee says.
So what did the locals do about the rabbit-robber? They banished Namma to some outer island and took her baby away from her.
The baby is all grown up now. It’s Caille.
They Blackmail People Too
Now they think Namma is angry and is somehow poisoning the ocean.
In other words, they screwed up.
So Loc suggests a deal to Aquaman. Because he seems able to swim to the outer island (which the townpeople can no longer reach in their weakened state), they want him to take Caille to her mom and make peace with Namma,
And if he does, then Loc will let him drink something called the “Unspoken Water” — a potion that Loc claims will bring back Aquaman’s memories.
Sure enough, there’s a bowl of this Unspoken Water on the table, and when Aquaman looks down at it, he sees Mera’s face.
“What have you done to me?” Aquaman says. “Who is she?”
“She’s someone from your past.”
Aquaman gets ticked off and leaves their house.
Aquaman discovers a group of the villagers watching Caille. She’s at the edge of the ocean dancing again, but there’s a giant wave about to hit her.
Aquaman runs to Caille’s side, grabbing her just as the wave hits.
But the wave doesn’t hit. Like the parting of the Red Sea, there’s a wall of water on each side of Aquaman and Caille. The villagers are surprised and Caille says, “The ocean has a plan for you, Arausio.”
The teaser at the end of the issue indicates that Aquaman is going to “prepare for battle,” so Namma better watch out. And the solicitation for Aquaman #44 indicates that Aquaman becomes obsessed with the redhead in the “Unspoken Water,” and Mera is going to come looking for her mate as well.
The story continues in January 23's Aquaman #44.