Over the course of his three-year run on Aquaman, writer Dan Abnett has proven that he’s willing to make significant changes to the character, not only booting him from the throne of Atlantis but — now — thrusting the kingdom of Atlantis onto the surface world of the DCU.
This week, Abnett is uniting with Rob Williams to launch a crossover event that addresses the political ramifications of Atlantis surfacing, as “Sink Atlantis” runs through the months of August and September in both Aquaman and Suicide Squad. The story begins in this week’s Suicide Squad #45 (with art by Joe Luis) and concludes in Aquaman #40.
After co-writing “Sink Atlantis,” Abnett will be tying the book into the Justice League event “Drowned Earth” with October’s issue #41.
Including spin-offs and pre-“Rebirth” series, Dan Abnett will have written more than 50 issues before his run ends on Aquaman (with Kelly Sue DeConnick slated to take over next). After that transition, Abnett will continue to write Titans and Silencer, both ongoing DC titles.
Newsarama talked to Abnett to find out more about his “Sink Atlantis” story with Williams, what he hopes for the transition to the next Aquaman writer, and what readers can expect from Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad meeting the cast of Aquaman.
Newsarama: Dan, how did the decision to bring Atlantis to the surface come about, and what stories did you imagine coming from that?
Dan Abnett: It’s an idea I’d been toying with throughout my run in the series, but it crystalized after Scott [Snyder]’s Dark Nights: Metal series. Coordinating with Metal gave us the rationale to do such a big and serious thing.
I don’t think I dared to think what could do with it if I did it, however. Certainly there’d be a lot of stories about how the surface world would react, which is what we’re seeing in this crossover.
Nrama: This week’s Suicide Squad #45 starts the crossover you’re doing with Rob Williams. Did you know Rob Williams before this crossover, and what's it been like working with him?
Abnett: Yes, we both write regularly for the UK’s illustrious 2000AD. We got on very well, and had good collaborative chats on the phone to put the elements together. It was very nice to be working with him, rather than just alongside him.
Nrama:What can readers expect from this crossover? Anything you can share about some of the action or interesting scenes we'll see?
Abnett: Well, for a start, lots of fun as two very different groups of characters — the Squad and Aquaman and his supporting cast — get to clash and interact.
But it’s also high stakes, and revolves around the divide between the open and the secret. There’s the open conflict between Atlantis (and Queen Mera) and the world, and the very private, dirty-tricks level battle behind the scenes between the Squad and the “Ninth Tride irregulars” Aquaman draws together to try and beat the Squad at their own game.
Nrama:It does sound like an interesting mix. What characters are you excited to juxtapose as the humorous and ragtag Squad meets the more regal and ancient world of Atlantis?
Abnett: That “clash of worlds” thing is an element that we hit repeatedly. Inevitably a lot of the best cultural and tonal contrast moments come from Harley — Harley and Murk, Harley and Mera, Harley and Dolphin — but the opportunity of sliding in King Shark and Killer Croc on opposites sides was too good to miss.
But it’s not all riotous fun and silliness. The threat is very real, and there are some surprisingmoments of pathos and human interaction.
Nrama:With Mera now able to be coronated, what's Aquaman's status? You mentioned that he’s drawing together the “Ninth Tride irregulars.” Is he still lurking in the shadows like Atlantis' version of Batman?
Abnett: Kind of. He wants to stay out of her way. He doesn’t want to tarnish her first days on the throne by being visible and reminding Atlanteans of the “failed king they got rid of.”
But it’s painful for him. He wants to be part of her big moment, and celebrate her coronation. He knows that her becoming queen will have a big effect on their relationship. They both know this.
Nrama: So Mera’s not dealing so well with it either?
Abnett: Mera is struggling too. She didn’t want to be queen, but in the end she realized she had to be. It’s a huge responsibility, and they might have to sacrifice their future happiness together for it to work.
Nrama:There have been a lot of changes over the course of your run. I’m sure we’ll talk again before the transition, but is there anything you want to tell fans as you’re planning to leave Aquaman soon?
Abnett: I believe it’ll be in very safe hands.
If you count the pre-“Rebirth” lead-in and the Mera limited series (which was a definite part of the Rath epic), then I’ll have been on Aquaman and the stories of Atlantis for over 50 issues. That’s a pretty respectable run these days. It’s been an amazing ride, every step, and an honor to have had the chance to contribute significantly to the continued growth of such a great icon.
I wouldn’t want for a second to undermine the new creative team. I think the book’s going to go to great places, but I hope Aqua-fans miss me just a little bit.