The hype for 2018’s Aquaman, an important addition to the DC Cinematic Universe, is starting to build. As the casting continues, an idea of how the film will look is beginning to develop in our minds. We have the rugged Jason Momoa as Aquaman, the mermaid-esque Amber Heard as Mera, and as of this week, we have Patrick Wilson as Orm, the Ocean Master. But who is the Ocean Master?
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He is one of Aquaman’s greatest foes, and an excellent foil for the first Aquaman movie. Created by writer Bob Haney and artist Nick Cardy, he has been around since 1966 and shares an exceptionally close bond with the King of the Atlanteans. And yet, he is an under-appreciated and relatively unknown member of the DC rogues gallery, so we here at CBR have compiled the 15 essential things you need to know about the Ocean Master.
15. He Is Aquaman’s Half Brother
No matter the rendition of Orm, he is always Aquaman’s half brother. The parentage of the two has changed in each iteration, but their relation remains the same. There is always some sort of power struggle between the two brothers, which only adds to the drama of their adventures.
Such a struggle is no coincidence, for it is stated in the “Atlantis Chronicles” — the tale of how Atlantis came to be — that brothers battling for rulership has been a recurring theme in Atlantean history. There was conflict between King Orin I and his brother Shalako, and this struggle lives on between Arthur Curry and Orm. It is exciting to imagine how the upcoming film will handle this relationship. They have multiple origin stories from which to draw, though they may build their own instead. No matter their take, the half brother relationship between the Ocean Master and Aquaman must be present, for it is an integral element of their characters.
14. He Was Once A Pirate
Orm’s first appearance was in “Aquaman” #29, designed by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy. His father was Tom Curry, the same lighthouse keeper who fathered Aquaman, and a woman named Mary O’Sullivan. In this iteration of the character, Orm was fully human, and was extremely jealous of his half-brother’s Atlantean abilities. This prompted him to adopt a life of crime. Soon after, he was stricken with amnesia and disappeared.
Eventually, Orm reemerged as the Ocean Master, a high-tech super pirate. He began his life of crime by using advanced technology for various nautical heists. Soon, however, he started generating natural disasters in order to threaten the world. Aquaman and Aqualad moved to stop the mad pirate, and revealed to him his true identity. From this point onward, the Ocean Master decided he wanted the throne of Atlantis, and designed a high tech suit and helmet in order to breathe underwater. He often came close to achieving his goals, but the heroics of Aquaman always won out the day.
13. His Father Was A Wizard
This brings us to Orm’s second variation. Following the simplification of DC’s canon through the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” storyline, the Aquaman mythos was re-imagined by Peter David. Aquaman was no longer the son of Tom Curry, and neither was Orm. The two now shared a lineage with Atlan the Wizard, and Orm’s mother was one of the Inupiat people of Alaska.
The new Ocean Master first appeared in the miniseries “Aquaman: Time And Tide” #3. Orm encountered Aquaman when he rescued a girl named Kako from a polar bear. Kako was Orm’s cousin, and when she began a relationship with Aquaman, this threw him into a jealous rage (not a lot of selection for poor Orm, it seems). This prompted him to abandon his family and take up the mantle of Ocean Master. He developed his signature suit, and once he discovered his true lineage, began a new campaign to claim the Atlantean throne for himself.
12. In The New 52, He Is Already King Of Atlantis
In the latest rendition of Aquaman lore, Orm and Arthur are connected by their mother instead of their father. Atlanna, queen of Atlantis, has her first child with Tom Curry once again, and leaves Aquaman on the surface world to escape the tyranny of Atlantean rule. Here, he thrives greatly, and becomes a founding member of the Justice League. Below the waves, however, things aren’t so peachy. Atlanna is forced to marry one of the Atlantean Guard, and through him, Orm is born. Soon after both Orm’s father and Atlanna die in mysterious circumstances, Orm ascends the throne to become king of Atlantis.
Of course, unsurprisingly, a peaceful king he was not. During Geoff Johns’ “Throne Of Atlantis” storyline, the United States military accidentally dropped bombs from above the surface of the ocean, prompting the Ocean Master to wage war on the surface world. He begins his siege by flooding Gotham city and even manages to capture the Justice League in cocoons, throwing them into the abyssal plain. Luckily, they make a daring escape and Orm’s plans for domination are eventually thwarted.
11. He Sold His Soul For Power
The post-crisis version of Orm has powerful magic abilities, but did not acquire these without sacrifice. To get the trident that gives him his powers, he sold his soul to Neron, a demon who rose to Earth in the “Underworld Unleashed” series. Neron gave power to many DC villains in exchange for their souls, and Orm’s deal with the devil is as corrupt as they come. If he is ever separated from his magic trident, he experiences excruciating pain. His face was also horribly disfigured by the exchange, prompting him to always wear his mask.
The power of the trident allowed Orm to take over the Dreaming City, an underwater nation close to Atlantis, and perform many other nefarious deeds. This all came to a head when Aquaman revealed the forgetful Ocean Master’s past to him, and all of his past lives from various continuities came flooding back. This caused him to lose his mind, and made him more dangerous than ever.
10. He Often Teams Up With Black Manta
Though Orm is a despotic tyrant, he is not opposed to cooperation every now and then if it will help him achieve his villainous aims. In the third episode of “Batman: The Brave And The Bold,” Orm hires Black Manta to assassinate Aquaman. This plan does not entirely go through, but Orm is able to capture his brother with the help of Black Manta. Their arrangement soon goes south, however, as Manta betrays Orm and imprisons him. He then sets about destroying and plundering Atlantis. Aquaman is forced to team up with Orm, and with Batman’s help, they are able to stop Black Manta.
In the feature film “Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis” we see Orm and Black Manta teaming up once more. Together, they try to convince Atlanna to attack the surface world in retaliation for the destruction caused by Darkseid. When she refuses, they use missiles from a stolen nuclear submarine to bombard Atlantis, in hopes that she will retaliate in anger. She once again refuses, and sends Manta to discuss peace measure with the Justice League. Manta complies, but this does not sit well with Orm. He does the betraying this time around, and takes Atlantis into his own hands to achieve his goals.
9. He Is A Fully-Powered Atlantean
Though both Aquaman and the Ocean Master are half-human, half-Atlantean, this has not diminished their abilities in the slightest. In addition to his ill-gotten magical powers, Orm can do everything that a native-born Atlantean can. This means he can breathe on land and below water (he has gills hidden behind his ears). He also has incredible swimming abilities, well above-average strength and endurance, a helmet that allows him to control the waves themselves and a telepathic link to all marine life.
This link is an Atlantean’s most powerful tool, and Orm uses it to great effect. In “Aquaman” #27, “Brother Vs. Brother,” the Ocean Master calls a giant lobster-like crustacean to his aid, and blindsides his brother while a furious exposition is occurring. He has also been known to call upon sharks, giant crabs and other powerful abominations from the deep. Orm is a strong match for Aquaman at the worst of times, and a true Atlantean warrior at heart.
8. He Hired Deadshot To Assassinate Aquaman
As we have seen in the past, Orm is not afraid to ask for (or demand) help when he feels the need. In the “Justice League” TV series that ran from 2001 to 2004 on Cartoon Network, Orm is a pure-blood Atlantean and member of the royal court, though he hungers for power. When he goes to the surface, he sees the humans above are reckless with their technology, and are melting the polar ice caps. He desires the ability to take full action against them, and hires Deadshot to take out Aquaman so he can ascend to the throne.
Naturally, this plan fails; Aquaman is able to repel Deadshot and thwart the Ocean Master. Orm is presumed dead when he is hurled off the edge of a cliff. As something of an interesting production note, the Ocean Master was voiced by Richard Green, who is known for also voicing Hugo Strange in “The Batman” animated series, and as a star of David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive.”
7. He Is A Boss (In Video Games)
Ocean Master has made good on his super villain status in the video games he has appeared in, and is often used as a boss. In “Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure,” you must venture into Atlantis and assist Aquaman in defeating Ocean Master. The game requires you to use your imagination to conjure up ways to take away Orm’s trident and separate him from his giant crab.
Orm also appears in “DC Universe Online” in the “Tides Of War” expansion, as either a boss or an ally, depending on whether you chose the path of the villain or hero. In the hero campaign, you must take back an Atlantean outpost that he has overwhelmed, and then help Aquaman board the Ocean Master’s naval force and put a stop to him once and for all. In the villain’s campaign, you help the Ocean Master take over the outpost, then launch an assault on Aquaman’s naval forces instead. He also appeared in “Batman: Arkham Knight” as an easter egg, where sharp eyes can spot a Gotham eatery known as “Ocean Master Sushi.”
6. He Was In The Injustice Gang
When Aquaman told the Ocean Master of his past, the information drove him mad, which prompted him to take a whole new approach to villainy. Thus, he joined the Injustice Gang, the evil counterpart to the Justice League. The first iteration he was a part of included Captain Boomerang, Floronic Man, I.Q., Shark and Abra Kadabra. Lex Luthor ran the second and more recognizable group that he joined, and this Gang appeared in the Justice League’s “Rock Of Ages” storyline. This team consisted of Lex Luthor, The Joker, Circe, Doctor Light, Mirror Master, Jemm and Orm. Together they attempted to tear down the League once and for all, and bring Green Arrow onto their side.
Orm also found himself as part of The Secret Society Of Super Villains during the “Infinite Crisis” and “Final Crisis” story arcs. He was part of the army that attacked Metropolis, a battle that resulted in the death of Superboy, and was recruited by Libra to stand by Darkseid when he began his final assault on reality. Orm is a guy who clearly knows a winning side when he sees one, and is always willing to join with others to help himself.
5. He May Take Over The Planet
Orm’s plans for a surface takeover did not go so well in his New 52 reboot. He was able to flood cities and exact a great deal of revenge for the slights orchestrated by Vulko against his people, but ultimately the forces of good prevailed. Aquaman smashed the helmet that Orm was using to control the waves and he was thrown into Belle Reve prison for his crimes.
He was able to escape this cell, however, during a mass break-out conducted by Deathstorm and Power Ring during the the “Forever Evil” storyline. After his escape, Orm saved a waitress and her son from a small town diner being attacked by villains, and decided to live with them. Seemingly done with a career in evil, Orm was tempted back into the fray when Nereus, King of the extra-dimensional Atlantean separatist colony of Xebel, appeared to him. Nereus offered a chance to join with him in an effort to unite the kings of the Seven Seas, and take over the surface world at last. How Orm reacts is yet to be seen.
4. He Murdered His Own Mother
The Ocean Master has, on several occasions, gone full evil, and has murdered many people to achieve his aims. During the “Throne Of Atlantis” story arc, Orm flooded Gotham City on a simple whim, which drowned hundreds of thousands of people in an instant. Orm’s true moment of evil would appear in the film “Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis,” however, where his ruthless methods were made painstakingly clear.
When Queen Atlanna refused to attack the surface world as Orm demanded, and his men failed to kill Aquaman, Orm took matters into his own hands. He straight-up murdered his own mother to claim her throne, and then began his assault on the surface with the full force of the Atlantean army behind him. In this attack, he managed to subdue every member of the Justice League except his half-brother, and the two commenced an epic duel. Just as Orm was about to deal the killing blow and secure his victory, Cyborg broadcasted a recording of Orm confessing the murder of Atlanna, and his army abandoned him. This gave Aquaman the chance he needed to take out the Ocean Master, and throw him into Belle Reve prison where he belonged.
3. He Once Became Aquaman
Once Orm got his trident from Neron, he was a powerful sorcerer, and could use magic to further his nefarious plans. His most powerful spell shifted reality itself, and gave Arthur Curry a whole new set of memories, which convinced him that he was the Ocean Master. This allowed Orm to brainwash his subjects and take his place as ruler of Atlantis.
This mad plot came to a head in “Aquaman”#27. Orm and Arthur were battling it out when Aquaman was pulled aside by Doctor Geist, who revealed the truth to Arthur. He finally realized what had been going on, and that Orm was using the bones of his severed hand to give the spell its power (sorcery is a dodgy practice, at best). He confronted Orm in the temple where his hand was held, smashing the relic and retrieving his memories once more. Though the identity swap was a powerful work of magic, Orm was unable to stop the truth from returning and thwarting him once again.
2. His Fling With Wonder Woman’s Aunt Sparked A War
After the “Flashpoint” event, we were given alternate timelines for our favourite DC heroes, including one where Aquaman and the Ocean Master briefly worked together to stop a pirate version of Deathstroke. In this timeline, the Amazonians and Atlanteans were also at war, and the catalyst of this conflict is seeped in romance, murder and intrigue.
The war began at the wedding of Diana and Aquaman. Hippolyta, Diana’s mother, was assassinated during the ceremony, which prompted Wonder Woman to kill Mera in retribution. The conflict between the two races would result in the sinking of Western Europe, though the real cause of all the suffering was revealed when Wonder Woman saw The Ocean Master kissing her aunt Penthesilea. Apparently, Wonder Woman was the original target of the assassination, and the two conspirators also planned to murder Aquaman. The lovers’ plan was to stop the leaderless powers from fighting and be seen as the heroes that ended the conflict. Thankfully, the madness was put to an end when the Flash restored the timeline to its original state.
1. Ocean Master Loves Aquaman
It may seem counter-intuitive, perhaps even impossible, but after everything that has happened between them, the Ocean Master still can’t help but have a soft stop for his half-brother. The two have worked together from time to time, such as during the events of “Batman: The Brave and the Bold,” where they teamed up to defeat Black Manta and save Atlantis. No truly hateful brother would do such a thing. Furthermore, in “Young Justice,” Orm showed no real hostility towards his brother, and defended Aquaman’s love Mera when Black Manta attacked Atlantis once more.
In “Aquaman” #14 of The New 52 series, Orm straight tells Aquaman that he loves him, even though he is planning to attack the surface world. This act certainly inspires Aquaman to have mercy on his brother, as he attempts to reconcile with him before the assault, and apologizes to him once he is defeated. Though he is ruled by a desire for power and fierce ambition, familial bonds do have their place in Orm’s heart, and this may make a hero of him yet.
What else should we know about Ocean Master before the “Aquaman” movie crashes on our shores? Let us know in the comments!
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