Aquaman's trident has been on quite the ride lately. Originally stashed away in the Atlantis Treasury, guarded by a legion of specters whose very existence is bound to the walls of Atlantis, the trident reappeared when it was salvaged by Vulko and Ondine in Aquaman #29. The former King of Atlantis has come a long way since then, and his iconic trident has been instrumental in aiding the Undercurrent resistance that is bent on usurping the villainous Corum Rath. Now, in Aquaman #37, Aquaman's trident seemingly evolves again, this time with the aid of some semi-friendly ghosts.
The trident first got an upgrade when Corum Rath started tampering with Atlantean magic. The trident responded to the new uptick in magical energies and began crackling like never before. Aquaman took on Rath, but the villain's reliance on the Abyssal Dark, a demon once thought to be the source of all magical energy in Atlantis, proved to be too much for even the trident's power. This is when a band of well-meaning ghosts entered the fray, led by Elder Null, one of the aforementioned specters who exists to serve the King of Atlantis.
Elder Null has added an asterisk to his sacred pact, though. As it turns out, Corum Rath is still the King of Atlantis, but he's also irreparably corrupted by the Abyssal Dark. Elder Null drops some hot truths about the true nature of the Abyssal Dark and declares that he and his fellow specters will aid Aquaman and the Undercurrent in overthrowing Rath. How can they possibly help Aquaman against a mad king driven further off the edge by the corrupting influence of a demon so ancient and powerful that the founding Atlanteans sealed it away at the end of a long, bloody war? By imbuing Aquaman's trident even further with righteous power.
The exact nature of the magic is a curious thing, though. Elder Null describes his magic as "protective" and only as effective as the "faith" of the user. "Atlantean magic is driven… by the will and spirit of Atlantis itself," Elder Null says. This is a curious caveat for Arthur Curry, whose recent arc has been defined by his willingness to fight for Atlantis, but not to serve as its king. It seems that the effectiveness of Elder Null's magic will largely depend Aquaman's ability to resolve his love for Atlantis with his feelings about being betrayed by those he served. Is Aquaman's faith indefatigable, or has it been shattered? It's a legitimate question, as much of the last 10 issues has dealt with Arthur confronting those who overthrew him originally.
The final page suggests that Aquaman's crisis of faith runs deep. While Elder Null's speech and the accompanying art implies that Aquaman's trident is the focus of his spectral blessing, the final page paints a different, far grimmer story. Corum Rath reigns triumphant over Aquaman's unconscious body and the trident is shattered. Only time will tell what -- or who -- will help Aquaman regain his faith in Atlantis.
In comic book shops now, Aquaman #37 is written by Dan Abnett with art by Riccardo Federici and Stjepan Sejic. Joshua Middleton provided the issue's variant cover art.