With a feature film on the way in December, Aquaman has been getting the spotlight treament at DC Comics. But this attempt to vault Arthur Curry to center stage has been going on in his ongoing series, written by Dan Abnett and drawn mainly by Stjepan Seijic and Ricardo Federici. This week, patient readers of Aquaman finally got closure on the story that was introduced in last year's Aquaman #25, that will change the status quo for Atlanteans going forward.
As we previewed earlier this week, the Atlantean Civil War had begun to reach its boiling point, and with Aquaman #38, Abnett completed his impressive “Kingslayer” arc and long-running Corum Rath storyline. However, more fallout occurred as the events prophesied in the pages of Dark Nights Metal #6, came to fruition and Atlantis, normally situated on the bottom of the ocean floor, has risen up to the surface and become an island nation again. That’s a lot to take in, so we’ll break it down for those who haven’t been keeping up.
Warning: Spoilers for Mera: Queen of Atlantis and Aquaman #38 will be discussed.
Over a year ago, The Council of Elders booted Aquaman from the throne of Atlantis, appointing Corum Rath instead, an Atlantean conservative who was in charge of The Deluge militia with the intent to wage war with surface dwellers. The Elders would soon regret their decision as Corum Rath courted the help of magical artifacts to strengthen his power and control, including the Abyssal Dark, an ancient magic forged by the demons of the sea that was responsible for sinking Atlantis long ago. Meanwhile, ousted from his throne, Aquaman worked to create a coalition with the blue collar classes of Atlantis to set up a chaotic battle between Atlanteans.
Over in Mera: Queen of Atlantis, the title character traveled back to her home land of Xebel to stop Arthur’s brother, Orm Marius (AKA the Ocean Master) from forcibly marrying Tula to take the throne of Atlantis. Mera instead properly challenged Orm with the winner being awarded the crown. Abnett along with artist Lan Medina whipped up a slugfest, where Mera eventually prevailed, but she does not kill him as Xebel trials by challenge typically end, and imprisons him instead. Mera is now the Queen of Atlantis, and with the armies of Xebel at her command, she rushes to Aquaman’s aid.
Drawn beautifully by Riccardo Federici with colors by Sunny Gho, Aquaman would triumph in Aquaman #38, ripping the Abyssal Dark out of Corum Rath and with that act, the Abyssal Dark’s hold on Atlantis was also released, which allowed it to become an island sitting above water. Aquaman made a wish in Dark Knights Metal #6 while wearing the 10th Metal suit of armor that he wanted a city to be like him, a place of the land and sea.
What does this mean going forward? Well, already devoted to protect Atlantis like Batman does Gotham City, Arthur and Mera must deal with the fallout of Corum Rath and The Deluge inflicted onto the world. All these events have ended with much of the surface world calling Atlantis an adversary to the world. Aquaman was able to momentarily broker for peace, but Atlantis no longer has the natural barricades of defense being underwater. It is now just as vulnerable as any other city and is open to attack.
Interestingly, there’s a four-part crossover with the Suicide Squad that comes next, then the road to “Drowned Earth” begins with Aquaman Issue #41, with Arthur imprisoned by Black Manta. Queen Mera is left to defend Atlantis on her own.
Now, there’s no telling how this will dovetail into the recently announced future run of Aquaman, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, which has yet to get a release date, but promises to be a game-changing mythological tale to re-examine who Arthur Curry is in a story where he eventually washes ashore on an island full of sea gods with amnesia. We can assume it will kick off once Abnett walks away. But as it stands, DC is poised to make Aquaman a title that is making waves before the feature film’s release in December, and in the months that follow in early 2019.