"It's fantastic to have John Ostrander return to DC Comics to tackle The Others and Aquaman," Johns told Newsarama about the writer. "John's one of the most underrated writers in comics and the work he's done — Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad, his run on the The Spectre and his work on Martian Manhunter — are a huge part of why I fell in love with DC Comics in the first place.
Ostrander previously wrote Aquaman for a few issues in the early 2000's, but this is the writer's first time working with the new, rebooted version of Arthur Curry.
He'll be writing just one issue of the new series — this month's Aquaman #20 — but he'll be picking up on concepts and characters introduced by Johns during his current run. Most notable is the return of The Others — the group of powerful, heroic characters that Johns introduced in a story arc last year.
Johns said he's excited to see what Ostrander will do with The Others, calling out his previous character work. "John took characters like Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Nightshade and Bronze Tiger and proved to me, and everyone reading, with the right writer any hero or villain can be great," Johns said.
Although Johns was originally announced as the writer of the issue, the change in creative team was announced in April. The new issue will feature art by Manuel Garcia and Sandra Hope, with a cover by the series' regular art team of Paul Pelletier and Sean Parsons.
Newsarama talked to Ostrander to find out more about the gig and what kind of character building he's hoping to do in May's Aquaman #20.
Newsarama: John, how did this job working on Aquaman come about, and what attracted you to the opportunity?
John Ostrander: Geoff Johns got in touch with me and I really like what he’s been doing with Aquaman. His editor, Brian Cunningham, also expressed a real interest in working with me. I haven’t played in the DCU for awhile, certainly not since the New 52 debuted, so it was a chance to jump in. And, let’s be honest, a paying gig is a paying gig, and that’s important these days.
Nrama: I think I read an interview once where you said writing Aquaman was a challenge because it was tough to find his flaws, and so the one time you wrote the character's title comic, you told the story through someone else's eyes. Do you still feel that way about Aquaman?
Ostrander: I think I may have said that about Superman. With Aquaman my original attitude was “bland blond, swims fast, speaks with fishies.” I used my reaction in the story to which you’re referring: A reporter gets an assignment to write a feature about Aquaman and that’s his first impression. He gets stories from people who met (or claim to have met) Aquaman so we get an idea of how the public in the DCU sees Aquaman. That made it fun for me at the time. And, no, I don’t feel like that these days; Geoff has done a really incredible job in revitalizing the character.
Nrama: It does sound like you recognize the challenge that Geoff was facing when he relaunched Aquaman, though. Do you prefer writing stories about characters who might be more of a challenge?
Ostrander: It makes the job interesting. And a chance to be creative. Actually, now that I think about it, every character has a challenge one way or the other.
Nrama: Ah, good point. But let's talk about this new Aquaman's challenges. How do you envision the character as he exists in the New 52 universe? What's unique about this new Aquaman as Geoff Johns has re-vamped and re-introduced him?
Ostrander: He’s more dynamic, in my opinion. Very driven. There’s steel in him and some mystery. He has backstory that Geoff is applying bit by bit as it is relevant to a given story, which is the way it should be done.
Aquaman is alienated from both his human side and his Atlantean side. More of a loner. Geoff’s a very canny writer and keeps popping in little surprises, re-evaluating what has been there and re-introducing it with new spins.
Nrama: Besides Aquaman, what characters will be the focus of your one-issue story?
Ostrander:: I’m using The Others, the team that Geoff created, along with a new character and a new villain created specifically for the story.
Nrama: Geoff's introduction of The Others was pretty unique, and it's interesting that you want to utilize them for your story. What do you think works so well about the concept of "The Others?"
Ostrander: They’re not really a team. They work together, usually at Aquaman’s request, but I’m not sure they all even like one another. A real variety of character types and even ages. It’s fun to see how they bounce off one another. In addition to their own skills and powers, they each have an Atlantean artifact that gives them additional abilities.
Nrama: Geoff told us that you're introducing a new Others characters. What can you tell us about that?
Ostrander: The Others lost two of their members recently and their talismans need new owners. One shows up – a young Apache woman that we might term a shaman. Her name’s Sky.
Nrama: How does the story fit into the overall tale that Geoff's telling? Did you coordinate it with him?
Ostrander: Of course I co-ordinate with Geoff. He saw everything I did and was very generous. Encouraged me to treat The Others as if they were my own; he wanted to see my take on them. That made it really fun and gave me a chance to get creative. I think you could say this story works in parallel with Geoff’s overall story.
Nrama: What else are you working on these days? You've got Star Wars going, but is there anything else coming out from you that you want to tell your fans about?
Ostrander: I’m still working on Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi over at Dark Horse. We’re working on out third arc and things are getting very intense. Jan Duursema is doing phenomenal work. I may also be doing another DC job, but here’s nothing I can say about it at the moment.
Nrama: I bet there are a few characters that readers would like to see you write again. While we wait for word on that, is there anything else you want to tell fans about your Aquaman issue?
Ostrander: It looks great, I think the story is good and the characters are interesting. You need to buy this book!