Alongside Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, DC Comics has several second and third-tier heroes; Green Arrow, the Flash, Hawkman, Green Lantern and of course Aquaman. These heroes have their cult following but have never really broken through to the same level of popularity that the trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman have. In an attempt to raise these characters to their deserved places of recognition, several attempts have been made to revitalize, re-write or replace them outright.
Most recently, writer Geoff Johns has successfully brought Hawkman, the Flash and Green Lantern up to superstar status (Hawkman has since fallen, sadly). In his ‘rebirth’ comics, Johns not only improved on the past but acknowledged the large body of work that preceded him on these characters.
In an interview last year, when asked what character he’d like to tackle next, Johns indicated that Aquaman was on his radar. The underwater monarch has undergone several revisions in his career but each time his series was canceled and the changes, from a hook hand to a water hand to being a sorcerer squid were undone. These changes were undertaken by some of the best and brightest in the industry, I should point out, from Peter David to Kurt Busiek, yet each time it failed to catch new readers.
Part of the problem, in my opinion, is that these other heroes had strong concepts backing them up while Aquaman was essentially a man who could talk to fish. Either a mutant bred by his father or a mutation of Atlantean genetics, it is unclear what the real point of Aquaman is. Rather than re-interpreting this character, Johns may have to start from scratch or dig deep to find some quality that not only makes Aquaman function but reveals how awesome he is, and always has been.
Talking to Newsarama, Johns indicated that he envisioned a lighter touch for Aquaman. Given that his Hawkman, Flash and Green Lantern books were predominantly gritty and fierce, this should come as a relief to fans of the character fearful of a gruesome book centered on as brooding lead.
I think that he’s the ultimate underdog to me. I think that’s a good thing. He’s underestimated by everybody, except Mera. Balancing the perception of what Aquaman is, and trying to break that perception, is what the book’s all about.
We certainly don’t get goofy, but we do have fun with it.
The stakes are real. The Trench are nasty. And the things he faces are really tough, and what he deals with is serious stuff. But at the same time, I didn’t want to run away from the perception of him.
I’ve read a lot of comics with Aquaman in them, and they really go for the throat when trying to make him cool, sometimes. And I think Aquaman is cool. I don’t think you have to work that hard to make him cool.
But what you do need to do is address why people don’t think he’s cool. And just accept that — hey, you’re writing an Aquaman comic book.
I think that’s what I’m trying to do on Ivan and Joe (Prado].
And Ivan and Joe on art — you know how great they are. They bring a big, regal, epic, powerful feel to these characters. And I think that also legitimizes the character.
The goal is to find a good balance, and not run away from everything that people think about Aquaman.
Aquaman is this guy who, on land, he’s kind of laughed at. But in the ocean, he’s supposed to be the king of this huge underwater society, so there’s a weird juxtaposition between those two roles. And he prefers to be on land, and his job is to protect the land from sea and the sea from land. So he’s literally caught in the middle of all these things.
I think everyone will be able to relate to Aquaman. I think he’s very, very human, because of all that. But he’s also admirable because he does step up and take care of business, and he doesn’t let what anyone says stop him. He lets it roll right off his back like water.
So I think the character himself, of Arthur Curry, is a very compelling character. It’s a very grounded, relatable take on Aquaman. But it will all take place within a struggle against The Trench and other epic backdrop stories as we go forward.
I think that it’s interesting Johns is taking the absurdity of Aquaman on board straight away rather than denying it. The short preview (below) is a prime indicator that Aquaman is going to be a heavy hitter, but even so the man on the street still views him as a ‘fish out of water.’
As Chief Creative Officer and one of the architects of the new DC, Johns has a lot invested in these creations. Talking to CBR.com, he revealed more details about his vision of the DC Universe and its various heroes. As someone who has revised not only Hawkman, Green Lantern and the Flash but Superman as well, this man knows of what he speaks.
“Justice League” is all about how the world perceives them as icons — but they’re people. We get to see the people behind the masks. “Aquaman” is the same way. I want to build these characters up and make them icons, but I want their stories to be big. The best thing about DC is that characters like Green Lantern and Aquaman and Flash have this massive tapestry to paint their stories across. Green Lantern has the whole universe to paint his story across, this big canvas. Flash has all of time and time travel and parallel dimensions and great villains. Aquaman has the oceans and the mysteries of the deep and the fabled city of Atlantis everyone’s heard about.
One of the big questions this first year of “Aquaman” is, who sank Atlantis and why did they do it? I think that fits the kind of epic, iconic stuff I want to capture, but at the same time, it really humanizes the character. It’s all about humanizing Aquaman and getting into what makes him tick, what he has to deal with, what he’s all about and what it’s like to be the biggest underdog in the superhero community.
I wager that Johns has been planning this one for some time and am excited to see how it pans out.
By Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Joe Prado
The superstar creators from BLACKEST NIGHT and BRIGHTEST DAY reunite to take AQUAMAN to amazing new depths!
Aquaman has renounced the throne of Atlantis – but the sea will not release Arthur Curry so easily.
Now, from a forgotten corner of the ocean emerges… The Trench! A broken race of creatures that should not exist, an unspeakable need driving them, The Trench will be the most talked-about new characters in the DC Universe!
(Preview via CBR.com)
Is the King of the Seven Seas finally getting the 4 star treatment that he deserves? Find out today as the first issue hits the stands… but be fast.
For more information including character design, I highly recommend visiting The AquamanShrine.com