When Jeff Parker takes over Aquaman in December, he'll have his eye on '60s-style big ideas — and the revamping of fan-favorite Aquaman characters from the past.
The writer, who's currently winning DC fans for his Batman '66 series, said he's also bringing a bit of a '60s flare to Aquaman, digging into the character's history for inspiration, as well as mining the era for concepts and characters to reintroduce into the New 52.
When Parker begins with December's Aquaman #26, he'll inherit the current artist, Paul Pelletier, as he takes over the title from Geoff Johns, the DC chief creative officer who launched the title in September 2011.
Although he's introducing a new storyline that sees Aquaman involved in a global conflict, Parker said he intends to keep the overall tone established by Johns — including a promise to still show Aquaman "shark punching."
Newsarama talked to Parker to find out more.
Newsarama: Jeff, how did the opportunity to write Aquaman come about, and what appealed to you about writing the character?
Jeff Parker: Simply, the editors called me and essentially asked how I felt about Aquaman. I've always liked the character, I like that he's the oceanic hero and how rich that is with elements to set him apart from other superheroes.
Nrama: Even before Geoff Johns launched the Aquaman title in 2011, he was defining this character in his other work. Now that he's leaving, what's your approach to the book? And are there specific things about his run that you like and intend to keep doing?
Parker: I especially like the way Geoff began the book; I felt like Aquaman took good advantage of the clean slate start. It implied that he's been in action awhile, people know him, but you didn't have to know continuity and could come in clean. I love the way Geoff and Ivan Reis showed Aquaman as serious and mature — he's kind of all business when it's hero time. And Mera has been fantastic — she's impulsive and it makes perfect sense for her character. Even though it's fun writing hotheads, I like the way Aquaman comes off as more rational than most of the Justice League, and I want to keep going with that.
Really, it's excellent foundation and I plan to use all of it. Geoff planted good story threads that I want to make use of too.
Nrama: Then maybe I should rephrase the question and just ask you as a new writer on the book: What are you hoping to bring to the title overall?
Parker: A lot of big action and sense of discovery. Shark-punching.
Nrama: For Aquaman himself, any specific goals you've discussed with editors that you guys want to do with the character?
Parker: Because he's a hero/king, he's always pulled in two directions, and in his case it's two different worlds, the surface and Atlantis. I feel like historically, readers drift away when he stays in undersea intrigues too much, so I want to get him up on land a lot.
Nrama: What about Mera? What are you hopes for that character?
Parker: I want to make sure she gets to cut loose and do what she does- which is generally, anything she wants. She's in a tough position, in that she's more or less viewed as a foreign enemy by the Atlanteans, but is in a governing role with them. Fortunately, Mera doesn't care much about what anyone besides Arthur thinks.
Nrama: What's your history with the character? Have you been an Aquaman fan in the past? Any stories stick out that you were either influenced by or would like to emulate?
Parker: Pretty fond of the character from childhood, watched the cartoons and read the comics like Steve Skeates and Jim Aparo's stories. Then reprints of the 60's work. I associate Aquaman with some of my favorite artists like Nick Cardy and Ramona Fradon, they made that book beautiful. And it's going to stay that way because the mighty Paul Pelletier is staying on, which I was over the moon about. Paul and I worked together some at Marvel and the guy is a force of nature. A massive imagination and beautiful execution.
As for emulating, I want to tap into those '60s stories, but through a modern storytelling eye. I like the constant big ideas that rolled out in that period.
Nrama: In your first storyline, your characters are dealing with the pressures of ruling. You already mentioned that Mera's viewed as a foreign enemy by the Atlanteans. And while we don't know the outcome of Geoff's current storyline yet, how is the new status quo affecting Aquaman and Mera?
Parker: Quite a bit! I can't say too much because Geoff has important developments you still need to see.
Nrama: Then are there any other challenges coming their way in the first storyline that you can talk about?
Parker: Yes, in short, concerned groups of the world have realized that the oceans are a vast territory that they really have no control over and are terrified about what else might be down there waiting to surprise them, as when the U.S. and Atlantis had its conflict. And these groups are going to establish a presence.
Nrama; What other characters are you planning to introduce or put the spotlight on during your run?
Parker: I want to recreate some characters from the past to build up Aquaman's enemies.
Nrama: Oh, any hint who you're considering? It seems like there's a lot of potential for a rogues gallery and supporting cast.
Parker: I feel like there's a ton of potential there. Don't want to say who just yet!
Nrama: Fair enough. Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about your work on Aquaman?
Parker: Everyone online has been very receptive and I want to thank those readers for being willing to see where we take things. I promise you adventure!