Kelly Sue DeConnick never thought Aquaman would be the comic that would bring her back to mainstream superheroes.
But DeConnick, known just as much for her creator-owned Image Comics hit “Bitch Planet” as for her superhero offerings, now finds herself the writer on the series, beginning with issue No. 43, which debuted in print and digitally Wednesday from DC Comics. So, who led her to be the new voice of DC’s on again, off again king of the seas? None other than DC’s big recent free agent acquisition: Brian Michael Bendis.
When Bendis fell ill a year ago during his transition to DC Comics after decades at Marvel and found himself hospitalized, his large Portland comic book-creating community came to his side. That crew of frequent visitors included the star writing married couple of DeConnick and her husband, Matt Fraction.
Bendis mentioned to DeConnick and Fraction that they should “get the gang together” at DC and then he asked whether DeConnick had any ideas for Aquaman. DeConnick didn’t at the time, but in that moment, Fraction reminded her that Aquaman was soon going to be in his own solo live-action movie starring Jason Momoa. Fraction thought that if ever there was a time to give writing Aquaman a try, it was now.
Fast-forward a year later, and DeConnick’s “Aquaman” comes out the week the movie comes out, after it has performed extremely well at the box office overseas.
In issue No. 43, DeConnick’s Aquaman is trying to remember the hero he once was, after the events of a previous story line left him a shell of his former self and dealing with memory loss.
“The idea was to take him off the table a little bit and let's wiggle around in his skin and kind of relearn who he is,” DeConnick said.
DeConnick also says she wanted her Aquaman to share some of the qualities that have made Momoa’s version of the hero so eye-catching — rugged, bearded, longhair, mysterious — but isn’t trying to make another adaptation of the movie.
“We want to have a nod to the cinematic universe, because you know there’s going to be literally millions of people who see that film who may then have an interest in the character,” DeConnick said. “We want them to find what they find appealing in the film about him in the comics, as well. I’m trying to bring some of that twinkle in Momoa’s eye, some of that swagger to the character.”
DeConnick’s first issue of “Aquaman,” illustrated by Robson Rocha, will be a five-part story line titled “Unspoken Water,” which sees Aquaman, unaware of who he is and trying to piece himself back together in a town that has a strange relationship with the ocean that surrounds it. DeConnick says a two-part story will follow, and then she’ll gear up to write a large 50th issue of “Aquaman” if all goes to plan.
“For 50, [DC] wants big stuff, and I’m just terrible at that,” DeConnick said with a laugh. “My favorite Captain Marvel issue that I wrote was when she took her cat to the vet.”
In addition to the “Aquaman” movie, trailers for Marvel Studios “Captain Marvel,” a heroine DeConnick is credited with revitalizing during her run writing the character, are all over the place. DeConnick even was a consultant on the “Captain Marvel” film with Marvel Studios.
As excited as DeConnick gets anytime she sees “Captain Marvel” flying around on a digital screen, and as happy as she is to know the hero’s trademark Mohawk will be there, as well, right now she’s just focused on telling the best Aquaman tale she can.
“What I’m invested in right now is if I can stick the landing on this [Aquaman] story,” she said. “Do I feel something in here that feels like it was worth the time of all the people who had to bust their butts to get it on the page? I can’t control whether a movie is going to be successful. I can’t control whether people are going to like a book or not. [What] I can control … is this story.”