Who is Vulko? Willem Dafoe's "Justice League" Character Explained

Actor Willem Dafoe was cast in DC Films' "Justice League" movie in mid-April, but any details about his role had been hard to come by. Following a visit to the film's London set, we finally know that that Willem Dafoe will be playing Vulko in the upcoming "Justice League" film. But who is Vulko?

For a character who's been a constant presence in DC Comics' "Aquaman" titles for nearly 50 years, he's not exactly the first name of when you think of Justice League allies. Few know he was actually the king of Atlantis for more than a decade! With a rich comic book history to explore and a bright movie history ahead of him, it's time to get to know the Atlantean ally Dafoe will be bringing to life starting in late 2017.

Vulko made his first appearance in "The Brave and the Bold" #73 (by Bob Haney and Howard Purcell), when he helped Aquaman and Aqualad discover a whole other universe was hiding in a single water drop!

When Aquaman was then kidnapped by the evil ruler of this universe, Vulko, Mera, Aqualad and Aquababy had to turn to Aquaman's Justice League teammate, the Atom, to shrink down and bring Aquaman back!

After his introduction, Haney quickly brought Vulko over to the pages of the "Aquaman" ongoing series (which he also wrote) the very next month in "Aquaman" #35. Nick Cardy was the artist on that title, and it's very likely he began drawing the character before Vulko's official debut in "The Brave and the Bold" #73. It's possible Haney didn't much care what Vulko looked like, with "Aquaman" #35 showing see a very different looking Vulko (his name is also initially spelled with a C in "Aquaman" #35).

When Steve Skeates and Jim Aparo took over as the new creative team on "Aquaman" with Issue #40, they brought Vulko with them (using the Cardy design, but with a K in his name) and made him a regular member of Aquaman's supporting cast. Vulko appeared in nearly ever issue until the series ended.

Three years later, when Aquaman got his own feature starting in "Adventure Comics" #435, Vulko was along for the ride. He served a dual purpose of both being the go-to expert for all things scientific or medical, as well as being Aquaman's most trusted adviser. In 1977's "Adventure Comics" #448 (by Paul Levitz and Jim Aparo), Aquaman had lost his crown to the evil Karshon, but Vulko helped free his true king by imploring the people of Atlantis to believe Vulko, who had served kings before Aquaman, believed in Aquaman.

At the end of the issue, Aquaman actually decided to abdicate the throne and Vulko, of all people, became the King of Atlantis!

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