'DROWNED EARTH' Kicks Off as AQUAMAN Swims Toward a New Direction

Drowned Earth
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

This week, Justice League launches “Drowned Earth,” an event that hinges on the mythology of Aquaman — and sets up what comes next for the character when a new creative team takes over his solo title.

Not only will the Justice League story flood the entire Earth, but according to writer Scott Snyder, it’s “literally about sea gods, space pirates and space krakens” — all tied into Lex Luthor’s plan to bring doom to the planet.

Snyder and Justice League artist Francis Manapul are working on the event with James Tynion IV and artist Howard Porter, who’re handling two Specials that bookend the event. The next two issues of Aquaman by Dan Abnett and Lan Medina also tie into the “Drowned Earth” story.

Newsarama talked to Snyder to find out more about the “Drowned Earth” event, how it ties into the over-arching Justice League storyline, and how this sets up what comes next for Aquaman when Kelly Sue DeConnick and Robson Rocha take over the title.

Newsarama: Scott, although the “Drowned Earth” event fits into the overall story you’re telling in Justice League, it really focuses on Aquaman and his mythology. Was that the plan, to have an over-arching story that takes a few issues at a time to focus on a conflict involving a character or two within that bigger story?

Credit: DC Comics

Scott Snyder: Yeah, exactly. We have this sort of big Uber-plan for the year where each arc would be focused on a couple characters, or a few characters at a time, to give everybody a moment in the spotlight.

So the whole goal with Justice League is to remind people over and over and over again that we’re telling one big story that started with Metal and ran through No Justice, and now goes through the Justice League books.

And even though every book is really independent, doing its own special thing, it’s a story that we’re trying across the books: Justice League Dark, Justice League, and Justice League Odyssey, and other books coming up, to be able to sort of culminate in something really, really special in just under a year from now.

Every arc is really distinct, and we people to feel like they can jump on at any moment to follow the heroes they love that are being featured in different specific arcs, but it is one big story.

It’s meant to be, like, the biggest, craziest Aquaman thing that we could do while still being sewn into the bigger fabric of the story we’re telling over the course of the year.

James Tynion: As Scott said, it started out as a core Justice League story, but when we looked at it, and the company looked at it, we saw that this was something we could really elevate and tie the other books into.

The story we’re planning on telling seems even bigger than the pages of the Justice League. So now we have Aquaman and Titans tying in, and we have the specials coming in November. But we wanted this to feel like a big, bombastic Aquaman event, even though it’s still part of the structure we’re building in Justice League.

It’s both the next arc of Justice League and a big standalone Aquaman event.

Credit: DC Comics

Nrama: This week’s issue of Justice League is billed as a “prelude,” but having peeked at what’s inside, this is a little more than a prelude, isn’t it?

Snyder: Yeah, they billed it as a prelude, but it is sort of a part one, for us spiritually, at least.

A lot happens. It really is pretty crucial to pick it up. Essentially, it builds the basis of our story.

What we can give away, I think, ahead of time is that what Aquaman discovers is that long ago, Atlantis’ first great hero, Arion, with the help of Poseidon, defended Earth and its oceans against a bevy of sea gods that were hear to sort of claim Poseidon’s trident to give life to oceans across the galaxy.

They were fended off an locked away in this “Graveyard of Gods.” And now they’re back to take our planet, flood it with alien liquid that changes anybody that touches it into an aquatic fish-zombie monster that they can control.

So it’s the highest level of crazy that we can do.

But it also touches on some very deep Aquaman mythology and expands it in ways that I think will make fans of the character very happy.

Nrama: It also features Aquaman’s extended cast, as it invoices the Aquaman title, right?

Snyder: Yeah, it also expands Mera’s mythology. She’s a big part of it. Black Manta’s a big part of it. Ocean Master is in it.

And it really builds a very rich history that’s new alongside the great history that already exists for Atlantis.

Tynion: It’s been great working with Dan Abnett on this too, over in the Aquaman book.

Nrama: In the first few pages of Justice League, you also hint at some of Aquaman’s past and how it might relate to his future. Because of Aquaman’s status right now, is this an important story to set up what’s next for Aquaman?

Credit: DC Comics

Snyder: Yeah, we’re taking Aquaman at a really interesting moment. Mera is now queen of Atlantis. Atlantis has played such a big role in Aquaman’s mission in the DCU, whether he was supposed to be king of Atlantis, or whether he was rejecting that role.

Now, he’s at a moment in his life where I think he sees Mera doing a good job at this thing that he was always reluctant to take. And he’s searching for a new mission as Aquaman. And he’s looking back to who he was as a child, what the powers meant to him back then, things his father said, and the mystery of his mother’s leaving him behind.

It’s a great moment to get to explore the character because all the stuff that’s been done with him stands, and that’s part of his baggage and also his legacy. But also, he’s looking for something new.

So it’s a great time to do this kind of an event with him, because it both looks back and nods to all of this huge mythology and history that belongs to the character already, but it also uses it to build something new.

Even though we’ll see the history of Atlantis, with nods to Atlan and all the kinds of things about it that are already there about its sinking, it gives you a brand new scope as well, because it’s literally about sea gods, space pirates and space krakens that come down to flood the Earth.

It’s hugely mythic, hugely grand and cosmic because we want Aquaman to feel that big.

Because he’s looking for a new place. And in a way, he is our great mariner, you know? And his powers, all of it, look outward.

I think in his mind and in his heart, he’s been a little bit trapped and caged by some of the demands of Atlantis, and now that that’s gone, I think this event hits him right at a moment when he’s looking for a direction in his life that’s going to give it a different sort of purpose as well.

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