After having just gone through the battle for the Throne of Atlantis with the Justice League, Aquaman’s upcoming one-issue adventure takes him back to his mysterious pre-League super-team. Before “Death of a King” kicks off in “Aquaman” #21, fans of the Atlantean hero will first read the special story from fan-favorite “Suicide Squad” writer John Ostrander who adds a new adventure for Aquaman and The Others to the New 52 mythos.
As he explores the relationship between a classic villain and Atlantean artifacts, Ostrander puts Aquaman in a situation that sees him calling his ex-teammates for help rather than his colleagues in the Justice League. While the writer isn’t able to give away much as to how his one-shot will deal with the ongoing saga of “Aquaman” and his role in the New 52, he did say his issue “plays into the story Aquaman has with the Scavenger,” an old “Aquaman” villain reintroduced at the end of issue #17, who is hunting down Atlantean weaponry and artifacts.
“Aquaman wants to recover an Atlantean weapon recovered from the recent War that has fallen into the wrong hands,” Ostrander told CBR News. “Acting directly would make a bad political situation much worse, so he calls on The Others for help. The situation, however, becomes something else — far more dangerous — than planned.”
The Others — a team that Aquaman led in his younger years — were introduced during Geoff Johns’ second arc, a storyline which saw the addition of five new characters to the DC Universe. Consisting of precog Kahina the Seer, animal empath Ya’Wara, the stealthy Operative, cosmonaut Vostok-X and the mysterious Prisoner of War, each one of The Others possessed a special Atlantean artifact that granted them certain abilities. It was discovered that Black Manta was methodically hunting down The Others to take revenge against Aquaman and recover the weapon that destroyed Atlantis. While the team remained separate as the story concluded, the door was left open to revisit the characters.
In the initial announcement of Ostrander’s one-shot, Johns tweeted that the writer had an especially excellent take on The Operative, the only member of The Others who never went into hiding and has connections to nearly every government agency in the world. For his part, Ostrander says there is one in particular about the character that really spoke to him.
“He’s a spy. Me and spies get along well, in a literary sense,” Ostrander said. “The fact that he’s an aging spy is also very interesting. He’s got lots of secrets of his own, and its fun playing with those.”
While The Operative is easily the oldest amongst the surviving team members, that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to explore when it comes to the team’s other surviving members, Ya’Wara and Prisoner-of-War.
“All of The Others are interesting characters and I’m enjoying adding onto them,” the writer said. “I take what is known or ‘given,’ and then I do what I call ‘fair extrapolation’ — if X is true, then what can we extrapolate or infer from it in a way that seems reasonable or fair.”
Which is not to say The Others will have an easy time re-teaming up with Aquaman for this adventure. After all, the end of “The Others” showed that the team didn’t exactly survive unscathed.
“Last time resulted in the deaths of two of the members of the team,” Ostrander said. “That’s not forgotten, but there are things that tie them to Aquaman and he to them. That can’t be forgotten, either.
“[I’m] exploring a little bit more what I think certain things mean,” he continued, hinting at the character building he plans to do with in his issue. “For example, Ya’Wara’s sexuality. She’s very primal and very passionate. The Operative has his grandson Aaron with him — well, where are his parents and why is Aaron not with them?”
Beyond expanding on Johns’ original cast, Ostrander also added a new superpowered member to the team: a teenager named Sky.
“She’s an Apache and very in touch with the old ways,” Ostrander said. “Some might call her a shaman. At the same time, she’s a modern teen and very at home with who she is. Takes things — even dealing with thunder beings — as very matter of fact.”
Ostrander described artists Manuel Garcia and Sandra Hope as “good storytellers,” which made them a good fit for the story he had planned for Aquaman and his team.
“[It’s] always what I look for first in someone working in comics,” Ostrander said. “They were also open to my thoughts and input, which I appreciate.”
Of course, “Aquaman” #20 isn’t Ostrander’s first run with a somewhat dysfunctional team, having been the longtime steward of “Suicide Squad,” launching them into their own series in 1987. Ostrander’s experience in writing friction-filled team dynamics came in handy when covering The Others.
“The Others are not as dysfunctional as the Squad was, but the job in any team book is to make the characters unique and interesting in their own right,” Ostrander said. “‘Do they have their own stories?’ is a question I ask of any team. You want to be able to spotlight individuals in their own moments but also show how they interact with each other. And, ultimately, how they work together (or not) as a team.”
“Aquaman” #20 hits stores May 22