Aquaman is king of Atlantis no more.
With the events of this week's issue, and heading toward the oversized Aquaman #25 later this month, Arthur Curry has lost his seat on the throne and is trapped within the undersea world, hunted by the very guards he used to command.
Aquaman #25 also begins what writer Dan Abnett calls a "powerful new direction" for the title, with new artist Stjepan Sejic giving the book a new visual style as well.
Newsarama talked to Abnett to find out more about the new direction, how the art brings Atlantis to life, and why issue #25 is a great time for new readers to check out Aquaman.
Newsarama: Dan, it's looking like Aquaman is going to lose his throne. Is that the focus of his battle in the next storyline?
Dan Abnett: Yes. That political strand is something I've been dealing with ever since I took the book over — the idea that Arthur is quite progressive, and because he's half-surface dweller, he understands that Atlantis is stuck in the past and has got a naturally "anti" feeling about surface-dwellers.
As king, he's worked very, very hard to break down those prejudices and try to bring Atlantis onto the world stage and make it a productive and important part of the nations of the world. That path has not been easy going.
But most of the threats he's faced so far have been external threats — people like Black Manta trying to sabotage his efforts and bring Atlantis to the verge of war with the U.S. All sorts of things like that.
But now we discover that the biggest problem of all is that Atlantis — or at least a very strong, vocal part of the Atlantean population — is so set in its way and so, sort of, with a small "c" conservative about its long-held fear of the surface and all the horrors that represents that they're not backing Arthur's attempts to drag Atlantis kicking and screaming into the modern world.
And that is going to lead to a major clash over who gets to sit in the throne.
I think the outcome is going to be shocking.
Nrama: The solicits are making it clear that he is going to lose the throne.
Abnett: Yes, but I think it's going to be even more shocking than that — the price he's going to pay and the turnaround that's going to happen in the nature of this book.
It is a very, very dramatic moment.
I mean, obviously, we've carefully timed it to tie in with the 25th issue, because that's a bit of a milestone. But I hope, like all great twists and swings in the face of fortune in a character, this one makes perfect sense. It might be bad and unexpected, but it is completely organically part of the process that we've been pursuing for the last 25 issues. I think it makes perfect sense.
Nrama: So issue #25 changes gears for the series?
Abnett: Yes, it's a very, very big, dramatic change.
And it's a really great point to join in. It's sort of, in some respects, a very fresh start. After a year of an intense bi-monthly run, we’re shifting back to monthly. That’s not a sign of a drop off in success, it’s just time to regroup and focus. One of the things we’re doing is changing art style, and that’s going to need the pace of a monthly book to achieve. So a turning point for Aquaman, the start of a major new direction, a fresh focus and feel… it’s a very big difference.
For new readers who want to read Aquaman, it's a great place to join in and be part of the story. We make every possible effort to make sure that those readers are welcomed.
Nrama: That issue also brings on a new art team. Is that part of the change you're talking about? The art style?
Abnett: We're changing art teams not because there's anything wrong with the art team – we've had amazing art. The art team that's been on for the first 24 issues (25 counting the "Rebirth" issue) – Scot Eaton, Brad Walker, Wayne Faucher, Philippe Briones and Gabe Eltaeb -- has been absolutely brilliant. And they have, I think, put in a track record that is unmatched by any other Rebirth book in DC — I think every other book has required more artists to step in to do fill-ins and stuff to get to that 24-issue mark on a bi-monthly basis. But our three guys have done an extraordinary job. And every single cover has been by the same team as well.
If nothing else, they need a bit of a rest. They've done a super job.
So to mark the change in Aquaman's fortunes, and indeed the nature of Atlantis and its nature with the world, we're changing the artist and going with a different art style completely in the form of Stjepan Sejic. And it's amazing. It's dazzling stuff that I think people will be impressed by. He’s bringing the culture and people of Atlantis to life in an astonishing way.
Nrama: Can you describe the new look of the book? And it starts in #25?
Abnett: Stjepan starts in #25, yes. His work is what we used to call fully painted, but it's not that anymore because it's all computer generated. But it is the most extraordinarily powerful, vivid, colorful, almost photo-realistic — just really, really gorgeous stuff.
We've done a lot of stories over 24 issues which have taken place in Atlantis, but this story — because it's so much about Atlantis — is going to be set in the heart of Atlantis for several issues, and Atlantis is being visualized in the most extraordinary way. This is like a big budget movie version of this.
We want people to understand that Atlantis is its own living, breathing thing with its own culture and its own style of architecture and costume and technologies. The pages are amazing.
Nrama: You've been on Aquaman… how long now?
Abnett: I think I was doing it for about five issues before "Rebirth." I took over at about issue #48 and went through to #52, and then the "Rebirth," and then the relaunch.
So my run on Aquaman is actually longer than the "Rebirth" run, and so is my run on Titans , actually, because we began with Titans Hunt .
With Aquaman , there wasn't a lot that needed to be fixed with "Rebirth." It was in good shape. It was very much following on from the path that was set up by Geoff [Johns] at the start of New 52. So it was a matter of reinforcing that with the "Rebirth" issue.
And I feel like we're doing that again.
Nrama: With issue #25?
Abnett: Yeah, for long-time readers, this is a big, new, bold development for where we've been going all along. And for new readers, it's a great place to jump on board to something new. It's a powerful new direction.