In a report on Comic Book Resources gathering answers from his recent Reddit AMA, Cullen Bunn reveals the reason that he's leaving Aquaman with issue #48:
"There are a number of reasons I left 'Aquaman,'" answered Bunn. "I actually quit the book before my first issue even came out. The reaction from fans was brutal and disheartening even before they read my first issue. My editor (who is great) asked me to stick with it, so I did. The fan reaction didn't improve. This was such a different take on the character, a lot of diehard Aquaman fans couldn't accept it. I was accused of not talking about the book, but every time I did, I got hate tweets and hate mail. I don't need that, and it kind of made me loathe the character. In the end, I think this wasn't the right story to tell with Aquaman, so I felt it was time for me to move on. Someone else can come on and be a hero. There's a bunch of other stuff, too, but it's best we don't dwell on it."
Bunn does say that the reaction was negative before his first issue hit stands, and that a lot of reasons led to his departure including general fan backlash to his take on the character, but perhaps the most prominent example of backlash to the book is the controversy surrounding Aquaman #44, where it was revealed that Mera's sister, Siren, disguised herself as Mera and had sex with Aquaman, which is a kind of rape known as rape by deception. The depiction of rape in fiction is a hotly contested topic, with some concerned readers against using it at all, while others feel that, while the subject is a valid one to explore, it's important to deal with it in a responsible manner by showing the repercussions it has on the characters affected.
Bunn doesn't discuss that topic in his AMA (because no one asked), but earlier this month, Bunn took to the CBR forums to discuss that issue with fans:
Aquaman was not the only DC Comics from Bunn to come under fire for rape depiction. Lobo #9 opened with a rape scene as well. That scene appeared to show Lobo shrugging off the rape, but Bunn claimed that it would affect the Main Man in ways he didn't expect later, and that he also had plans to show the effects on Aquaman later in the story:
Bunn refuted claims that fan response was "ridiculous," and went into more detail on his intentions:
But it seems that, by this time, Bunn was already considering leaving the book:
Bunn's run on Aquaman will end with Aquaman #48, and Lobo has been cancelled with Lobo #13. It remains to be seen whether, by the time those runs wrap up, Bunn will have had the chance to address the repercussions of the rapes to the extent he says he planned to do, and whether the next writer will pick up on those threads.
After today's article on CBR, it wasn't long before Bunn felt himself drawn to the forums once again to clarify some his AMA comments:
And then he took to Twitter to elaborate some more:
Bunn's upcoming Uncanny X-Men run with artist Greg Land for Marvel launches in January, as those other series end, and he will continue with his other seventeen ongoing titles.