Aquaman has not had an easy homecoming. After regaining his memory at the end of Kelly Sue DeConnick and Robson Rocha’s first arc on Aquaman, Arthur Curry has made his way back to Amnesty Bay, where he’s been greeted by old friends from the past, a very pregnant wife, and an archenemy with a major power upgrade. The Aquaman movie gave us a very Iron Man-inspired Black Manta, and this story leans into that connection as it gives Manta a giant mecha suit programmed with an A.I. system that talks to him as his dead father. There’s an interesting multigenerational narrative developing with Black Manta’s son, Jackson “Aqualad” Hyde,” also joining the supporting cast, giving Aquaman some much-needed help in taking out Mecha Manta.
This exclusive preview of Aquaman #54 shows Manta unloading his arsenal on Arthur’s hometown, emboldened by the appearance of Lex Luthor’s symbol in the sky. The angles on the first page all work to reinforce the size of Manta’s new war machine, starting with a shot of Aquaman from above followed by panels that present Manta from below. This excerpt breaks from Mecha Manta’s rampage for a flashback showing young David Hyde with his father, who instills in him the pirate values that come to define his life. Sunny Gho’s colors shift into a gentler palette of pale purple, pink, and orange for this scene, calming the visuals before an explosion of energy when the story jumps back to the fight happening in the present.