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How Did Aquaman Bring Sub Diego Back to Dry Land?

This is "Never Gonna Be the Same Again," a feature where I look at how bold, seemingly "permanent" changes were ultimately reversed. This is not a criticism, mind you, as obviously things are always going to eventually return to "normal." That's just how superhero comic books work. It's just fun to see how some of these rather major changes are reversed. This is differentiated from "Abandoned Love," which is when a new writer comes in and drops the plot of the previous writer. Here, we're talking about the writer who came up with the idea being the same one who resolved the change. This is also differentiated from "Death is Not the End," which is about how "dead" characters came back to life, since this is about stuff other than death.

Today, we look at how Sub Diego went back to being just plain ol' San Diego again.

Everything started when Will Pfeifer, Patrick Gleason and Christian Alamy took over as the new creative team on Aquaman with #15 and the first thing they did was introduce a brand-new status quo for Aquaman.

You see, there was a massive earthquake that sent a good chunk of the city of San Diego into the ocean, with thousands of people dying in the disaster but a much larger population of 400,000 people going missing!

A month passed but then a young boy shows up on the mainland. He is a survivor from the earthquake, but then he dies in custody. It turns out that he was now a WATER breather! After another young woman shows up who used to be a normal human but now can only breathe water, Aquaman investigates and discovers that the vast majority of the missing citizens of San Diego were still alive, they had just been mutated so that they could only breathe underwater! Aquaman encountered them in Aquaman #17...

Two issues later, they discover the scientist who used Aquaman's genetic material to come up with a way to manipulate the water supply in San Diego to turn most of the people in the city into water breathers. That would coincide with the city being toppled into the ocean. The scientist believed that he was helping things by getting people ready for a future where there eventually is no dry land for people to live on...

It's sort of the kind of plot that mad scientists were using on the Super Friends all the time in the early years of that series (just a lot more deadly).

Okay, so the now-water breathers decide to remain in their town, now dubbed Sub Diego. It essentially becomes Aquaman's Gotham City/Metropolis/etc. Other water breathers settled there, as well.

However, during One Year Later, where all the DC books jumped forward in time one year, we see that there is now a new Aquaman in town,as the book became Aquaman, Sword of Atlantis with #40 (by Kurt Busiek and Butch Guice). The new Aquaman is paired with the Dweller of the Depths, a being who turns out to be a mutated version of the original Aquaman...

We then check in with Sub Diego in Aquaman, Sword of Atlantis #52 (by Tad Williams and Sawn McManus) and we discover that most of the city is gone and what has remained has just gotten taken over by BlacK Manta...

Eventually, the Dweller in the Depths dies.

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