DC Comics' Aquaman-centric "Drowned Earth" storyline has shown that Arthur Curry and his world are worthy of the big stage. It's the push Aquaman will get before he receives the star treatment with a feature film starring Jason Momoa, and before Kelly Sue Deconnick and Robson Rocha begin a drastic new direction on the title. But first, writer Dan Abnett gets one final issue, Aquaman #42, to leave his mark and cap off a magnificent three-year run that started with the last four issues (Aquaman #49-52) of the New 52 era of the title. SYFY WIRE has the exclusive preview of Aquaman #42, which comes out this Wednesday, Nov. 21.
Throughout his 50-plus issues of Aquaman and spinoffs, the fan-favorite British scribe has served readers with a tsunami of tidal changes, stoking Atlantean politics and strengthening the Arthur-Mera relationship. Since the end of DC Metal, Abnett has surfaced Atlantis and taken the monarchy away from Aquaman and given it to Mera. Now, while struggling to find a new role in the Atlantis community, Black Manta and the Triumvirate added insult to injury by stripping him of his powers.
An integral part of "Drowned Earth" has been the pairing of Amazon and Atlantean. Even in the "Drowned Earth" prequel Titans #28, also written by Abnett, Donna Troy and Tempest (formerly Aqualad) reconnected to fight side-by-side, rekindling their team chemistry forged from being original members of the Teen Titans. As seen in this preview of Aquaman #42, Diana and Arthur continue to support each other, as Arthur deals with being powerless.
"They’re a great pairing," Abnett raves to SYFY WIRE. "They’re both powerful royalty from ancient and mythical Earth cultures that stand outside the ‘regular world.’ They have a shared insight into that common background, and a mutual respect and understanding of ancient traditions. They also are both able to look at ‘the human world’ from the vantage point of outsiders. They’re fiercely protective of the world yet are able to see it in perspective. I feel they have a great mutual understanding and recognition."
"Troy and Tempest are similar, except that they have both — for different reasons — found themselves outside the cultures that created them and are finding ways to forge new, meaningful lives in the ‘human world,’ " he added. "The mutuality is fascinating to me and the contrast between the two pairs is, I think, really revealing."
As for Arthur being powerless, Abnett said that after three years of writing Aquaman, it's been fun to explore other ways Arthur can be heroic when his advantage is taken away. "It’s a test that all heroes go through eventually, and one that’s seems particularly fitting during this Aquaman-centric crisis."
With the tension of "Drowned Earth" building and the drama growing, readers may be surprised how much this issue boils up to a pivotal conversation that Arthur has with his father.
"It was interesting to take Arthur back to the place he came from, his childhood with his father, for what is essentially this vision quest, a deep dive into who and what he is," Abnett revealed, when asked about his final scenes for the readers. "The whole story is pretty ‘cosmic,’ and this is the most metaphysically cosmic part of it, as Arthur passes into the supernatural realm of gods."
"Despite the scale of this," he notes, "I wanted to keep it small and personal to him. I think it makes it matter more to be anchored that way. And it’s the last issue of my run on the book, so it felt like a great final passing, a hand-over point, to have him meeting his father one last time and making that final connection."
While at the helm of Aquaman, Abnett has increased the distance of Aquaman's ripples, adding to his mythology, and meticulously building him up from an afterthought to a pillar of the Justice League. Abnett has been a key part in ramping up the Aquaman series to a major Justice League event, then handing off the baton to Deconnick as DC prepares for the homestretch hype for the movie. The thrills for Arthur Curry have just begun.
"It’s a pretty high note to go out on," Abnett said while looking back on his run. "I’ve loved writing Aquaman for the last 50-odd issues, a track record I’m pretty proud of. I’ve always liked the character and it’s been great to have a proper tenure on the book, a chance to tell some properly big stories and to explore the character and his supporting cast. I hope I’ve advanced it and added things that are worthwhile, particularly in giving Mera a significant role and even her own series for the first time. She’s DC’s great underused character, in my opinion."
"I hope people have enjoyed my run — [readers] seem to have responded very well, and I certainly have had a blast!"
Check out SYFY WIRE's complete preview of Aquaman #42 pages 3-5, along with a cover gallery, and then let us know your thoughts of Drowned Earth or Dan Abnett's three-year run on Aquaman.