After delivering two of the best Villain’s Month issues, Aquaman returns with a fascinating story that delves deep into the history of not just Aquaman, but also Atlantis itself, and explains a whole lot of back-story.
Aquaman has woken up after being in a coma for 6 months, and he’s in Antarctica with only the treacherous Vulko for company. Vulko tells Aquaman that the Dead King and the Xebels have taken over Atlantis, and that Mera is missing. They then head into a massive crevice, which leads to a secret, ancient temple, with 6 massive statues and a throne made of ice. Aquaman sits on the Ice-Throne, and is given a mystical vision about what really went down when Atlantis sunk.
The story goes like so: Atlan was the King of Atlantis, and he was working to unite the world, by inviting all peoples and races to live there. But his brother, Orin, disagreed, believing that the races should be kept separate. Orin leads a revolution against his brother, and drives Atlan out of the Kingdom, as well as killing Atlan’s wife and children. It’s all pretty standard quasi-medieval stuff, but it’s decent enough. Atlan goes into hiding, and forges the Artifacts of Atlantis that Aquaman and The Others have used throughout this series. He comes back to Atlantis for revenge, and in the process, sinks it down to the bottom of the ocean. Most of the people died, but some could breathe underwater, and some of the races evolved into strange, different forms, such as… The Trench! Yes, the seemingly villainous Trench creatures are actually former Atlanteans. It’s clear from stuff like this that Johns has planned a lot of this back-story out since the very beginning of his run, and it’s cool that, even though he’s leaving soon, this will seem like a complete story.
Aquaman busts out of the Ice Prison, and Vulko tells him that he’s not actually descended from Atlan, but from the evil, racist Orin, which I think is a cool twist, especially for a storyline and setting where so much is made of ‘Birthrights’. Both Aquaman and Ocean Master’s claims to the throne are based on a lie, and it looks like the Dead King, who is Atlan, is actually in the right. It’s complex really, Atlan is responsible for sinking Atlantis to the sea, but he was driven to it by his brother. It’s not quite Game Of Thrones, but it’s not far off.
This was a very enjoyable issue, that really re-contextualizes a lot of Johns’ run so far, and I’m excited to see how it plays into the ending. Will Aquaman renounce his claim to the throne? I think he might. Paul Pelletier’s art was once again very strong, he gave the flash-back sequences an appropriate sense of grandeur, and man, that double-page spread of Atlantis’ fall was epic. Aquaman seems to be swimming (heh) under a lot of people’s radars at the moment, but it’s still very much worth reading, and if you dropped it, you should pick it back up.