Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #179 by Drew Barth
Standing at the edge of a beach, you don’t know how deep the water gets. Even taking a boat out doesn’t give you a sense of just far down the water goes and how little light can peer down there. In this way, the ocean takes on a sense of dread—that feeling that what’s out there is beyond what we can understand, much in the same way space feels unfathomable. It is at this intersection of ocean and space horror that we find Ram V, Christian Ward, and Aditya Bidikar’s first issue of Aquaman: Andromeda.
Something has crashed into the ocean. All we have is a team of scientists that shouldn’t be there in an experimental research vessel that shouldn’t exist and governments that will not take responsibility if they’re found out. We also have a kraken. More than that, we also have Arthur Curry—king of Atlantis and Aquaman to the world. But Aquaman has been around a while. Like, a long while. He’s shown up on the shores of Kamchatka Krai for generations to help build ships but has never once looked any different. This is an Aquaman that is becoming as old as the oceans he guards, but when this object fallen from space disturbs a kraken in the most remote area of the sea and goes after a research vessel that shouldn’t exist, he has to become that young Aquaman we’ve all grown up with.
Andromeda is the most atmospheric Aquaman book I’ve read. Ward’s mastery of color and composition allows this story to feel like something is pushing down on it. Even the splash pages feel as though there’s some hidden pressure keeping them stationary. And this ties into that intersection of the sea and space—the unfathomable distance and the deeptime in which they exist. Aquaman himself exists in a similar intersection here as well, between the sea and the surface, but in his costume adorned with reefs and glowing pupils, he has a more alien look than any previous incarnation. V, Ward, and Bidikar are leaning into this idea of the unknown and unfathomable as Aquaman’s appearance becomes stranger and the artifact that came from space does something to the ocean that he can’t quite figure out yet.
The first issue of Aquaman: Andromeda plants the kind of roots that branch out into murkier depths. As though we were nearing the bottom of the sea ourselves, we can’t quite make out what mysterious shadows we’re seeing maneuver over the sand, but we’re curious. Curious and maybe a little afraid. But that fear draws us back into the story. We want to illuminate the unknown; we want to see where space and sea come together despite its dangers. But the sea beckons us forward, even if we’re not meant to be there. There’s mysteries here that we can’t help but want to uncover.
Get excited. Get deep.