By: Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Joe Prado
Six years in the past, young Arthur Curry’s true legacy is revealed. A royal bloodline is revealed and Curry finds that he has a destiny connecting two separate worlds.
For a guy that talks to fish and swims well, Aquaman has an unnecessarily long and complicated back-story that has only gotten more littered with conflicting ideas over the years. When Geoff Johns first spoke about taking up Aquaman as his next project, I was excited to see how he would unravel the character’s tangled aquatic web. I was surprised when the New 52 Aquaman series started without a new origin story and instead placed Curry in a contemporary setting. This of course allowed for the story of The Others to slowly unravel, giving readers glimpses of this hero’s personality and history over the course of several issues rather than all at once.
The monthly Aquaman series has earned acclaim from readers and critics alike. Johns and Reiss have crafted an original and innovative world around Aquaman that has drawn in new followers and pleased lifelong Aquafans. The zero issue connects some of the remaining gaps in Aquaman’s history. It’s an extra treat for fans of the monthly comic
Beginning with the death of his father, Arthur Curry is left alone in a strange world, an outcast from human society. The issue is unusually slim on dialog but very strong on imagery as Curry’s descent into the underwater realm is depicted in all of its dark mystery. After narrowly escaping a shark attack, Arthur rescues a mariner and his daughter, raising their craft with his immense raw strength. From there, Curry learns of Vulko, a man who also talks of Atlantis and holds all of the secrets of Arthur’s past. Arthur’s mother was Queen Atlanna. After siring a son on the land, she returned to the undersea world and was taken in by politics, wed to the captain of the guard. After having a second child with her husband, she was soon widowed and later died herself. Vulko strongly suspects that Orm was Atlanna’s assassin, and has waited for the return of the one true king.
From Vulko, Arthur Curry learns that he is not just an outsider, but an estranged member of royalty. In the absence of the royal bloodline, Arthur’s brother Orm has taken up the crown. With the exiled Atlantean by his side, Aquaman journeys to the breathtaking realm of mythical Atlantis to reclaim his birthright and restore order to a kingdom in turmoil.
This zero issue delivered the goods on who Aquaman is and what his new origin entails, something that has hung over the character since his return in Brightest Day. Not only that, it hints at what is to come in later issues (and possibly JLA as well). Mainly an issue of continuity and world building, but it’s also a very good sign that DC Comics may have finally sorted out Aquaman once and for all. A hero recognized by all yet known by a relative few, Aquaman has all the makings of a modern cult superhero hit along the lines of Green Lantern (not the Ryan Reynolds movie, the comic).
I have been suitably impressed by Ivan Reiss’ artwork in this series, one that suits his skills quite well. Reiss is a true gem of the DC Comics bullpen and I look forward to his future as a stronger part of the creative team when he takes over writing duties.