Tony Bedard is getting to revisit the '90s, harpoon-handed Aquaman, but the circumstances of Convergence — which separated the hero from the ocean itself — have made the hero an "intense, dark" version of Aquaman
An editor on Aquaman and JLA during the 1990's, Bedard is very familiar with the version of Aquaman who recently lost his hand. For Convergence: Aquaman, he's also reuniting with his CrossGen collaborator Cliff Richards.
Bedard told Newsarama that this version of Aquaman is "willing to go way further than you'd expect" when, during Convergence: Aquaman, he fights Deathblow of the WildStorm universe — which might explain his blood-covered face on issue #2's cover.
Convergence: Aquaman is one of the dozens of two-issue tie-ins to Convergence, the mega-event that takes over the DCU in April and May. Aquaman is trapped within a domed Metropolis because an evil Brainiac has stolen cities from throughout DCU history.
Bedard is writing three of the Convergence tie-in mini-series, including Convergence: Speed Force, Convergence: Aquaman, and Convergence: Green Lantern/Parallax. In our ongoing series of interviews with the creators behind Convergence, we asked Bedard to tell us more about his Aquaman story.
Newsarama: Tony, with Aquaman, you have a history with this version of the character, don't you? As an editor? Did that help as you put the story together?
Tony Bedard: As an editor, I got to work with "harpoon-hand" Aquaman both on JLA and on the Aquaman monthly series.
I'm a big Aquaman fan from childhood, so it's a personal treat to revisit the Sea King at his darkest/angriest moment, still coming to terms with the loss of his hand.
And, yeah, it's like reuniting with an old friend to see him like this.
Nrama: Did you have to go back and do some research on that time period — dust off some old comics that you edited?
Bedard: Not really. This is a version of Aquaman I really feel I know, but it's also a big departure from what was established, because in Convergence: Aquaman, he's been trapped in Metropolis for a year since the dome went up.
This means he's been away from his wife Mera and from Mother Ocean itself, and that's put him through some real anguish and soul searching.
Nrama: You also wrote Aquaman for the Flashpoint event. What attracts you to this character?
Bedard: It goes back to watching the old Aquaman cartoon from the '60s when I was a little kid. I always thought he was an A-lister and it actually surprised me years later to find that he was in some ways the least respected member of the Justice League.
I always thought it a little ignorant to sell short the ruler of 7/10ths of the planet.
In recent years, Geoff Johns did a lot to raise his stature, and I'm pleased to see that Aquaman is finally getting some love.
Nrama: OK, you've talked about his status a little bit, but for people who don't know this version of Aquaman, how would you describe him? And what's his history like?
Bedard: It's just after Aquaman lost his hand (eaten by piranhas) during the early Peter David Aquaman run.
He came to Metropolis with a freshly bandaged stump and was caught up in the abduction of the entire city.
We meet him a year after the dome went up and Aquaman has been through some major changes. Bad enough that he had to deal with the loss of his hand, but it's even worse that he's been cut off from Atlantis, from Mera and Aqualad, and from the ocean itself.
In fact, after Metropolis was domed, cut off from the outside world, Aquaman tried moving into the Metropolis Aquarium. This didn't sit well with the locals, and there's a level of distrust that's lasted ever since.
Nrama: Him moving into the Aquarium is both funny and sad. But it sounds like he didn't stay there? What's his status as we meet him?
Bedard: He's living at STAR Labs, where he had his harpoon-hand constructed and he's trying to figure out where he fits into Metropolis's hero community. Everybody thinks he's a little crazy and they're not sure what to make of him.
His best friend is Dane Dorrance of the Sea Devils, who is trying to help him deal with being separated from the ocean, not to mention from his wife.
And just as Aquaman is coming to terms with his new status quo, the dome comes down and he must fight with Deathblow from the WildStorm Universe. Poor Aquaman can't catch a break.
Nrama: Can you describe the threat Deathblow poses to Aquaman?
Bedard: Deathblow is sort of an unkillable Punisher. He may not be as strong as Aquaman, but he won't stay down, no matter what you do to him.
He is also an expert at exploiting vulnerabilities in his opponents. So once he has Aquaman's vital stats, he can come up with scenarios that put Aquaman at a disadvantage (which is exactly what he does when he attacks STAR Labs).
Nrama: You're working with Cliff Richards on this book. What's it been like working with him?
Bedard: I first worked with Cliff years ago on my CrossGen Comics series Route 666 and loved what he did. He's only gotten better since then. He has a very realistic style, and manages to visually convey a lot of moody, internal stuff about Aquaman that really brings him to life.
He draws one mean Deathblow, too. Really makes him a scary dude. It's nice when an artist can bring such nuance to scenes. I suppose it's like having really good actors if you're making a movie.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about Convergence: Aquaman?
Bedard: This is not your dad's Aquaman. He is intense, dark, and willing to go way further than you'd expect in order to beat an unkillable foe. Do not miss this one!