This week, DC is kicking off the Justice League /Aquaman crossover “Drowned Earth,” a five-part event that not only floods the Earth with water but also gives Aquaman’s history and legacy some new energy and depth.
The event is framed by two Specials by James Tynion IV, who’s been helping Scott Snyder guide his Justice League title toward this event. In November, the story crosses into two issues of Justice League (by Snyder and Francis Manapul) and one issue of Aquaman (by Dan Abnett and Lan Medina).
The first framing issue out this week, Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth #1, features art by Howard.
In last month’s prelude issue of Justice League, readers learned that DC’s history includes a battle between Atlantis and three cosmic “Ocean Lords” named Commander Drogue, and Captain Gall, and Fleet Admiral Tyyde. These three powerful characters were defeated, but now they’ve returned for revenge (with some help from Black Manta and the Legion of Doom).
Newsarama talked to Tynion to find out about how the Ocean Lords were created, what their goals are on Earth, and what readers can expect from Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth #1.
Newsarama: James, now that we’ve met these Ocean Lords, one of the things that they all have in common is that they’ve been prisoners this whole time in the Graveyard of Gods, right? Are they “gods” from other planets?
James Tynion: Right, yes, these three characters call themselves the Triumvirate. Each of them is the equivalent of Poseidon on their own planet. They were the god of their ocean.
One thing that we touch upon in this story — in this issue, but also in the entire story — is that life in the ocean was much more of a struggle on other worlds. There were certain conditions here on Earth that were safe-guarded by Poseidon that allowed the kind of vibrancy and different types of life to emerge here on our planet.
They had a much harder path.
Back in the day, Poseidon and Arion faced off with these gods when they first came to Earth. They understood the kind of power that existed beneath the waters of Earth. And they were killed and cast down into the metaphysical prison of all god-kind in the DC Universe, which is this new location that Scott and I are introducing called the Graveyard of Gods.
Now, they have been freed by the Legion of Doom, and Poseidon has been cast down into the Graveyard of Gods in their place. And they’re coming to finish what they started, to take Earth’s ocean for themselves.
Nrama: Each of them has a backstory. Did you develop each of those for the three Ocean Lords?
Tynion: At first, we kind of knew what they were as a group. Then we came up with a couple descriptors and everything, but one of the first things we did was send all the information to Francis Manapul, who sent back these three incredible designs.
Once we had the designs, that’s when we started building the characters into who they are now.
We had filler names and all of that, but once we saw them, they became characters to us. Then we knew that we had Commander Drogue, and Captain Gall, and Fleet Admiral Tyyde.
We’re seeing them come here to Earth with a real deadly agenda, and each of them has a different incarnation of what being a sea god is, and what those powers really mean.
Commander Drogue, he has The Flood, which is the Kraken type creature that is throwing up all of this water into the world. The Flood is flooding the Earth with this kind of cosmic water that’s poisoning and transforming every inhabitant it touches.
And then we see with Tyyde, she can see powers and energies as though they are waves that she can pull back and give forth. And that’s one of the big key parts of this issue, is what she does with Aquaman’s powers.
And then we have Gall, who has the ability to kind of manipulate the pressures of the deep ocean.
They also each sort of play with all the myriad ways the ocean destroys. The ocean can be this major source of death.
So much of the story is about how the ocean is a source of life. And wanted these three gods to embody the opposite of that.
Nrama: They each have a military title?
Tynion: Yes, we wanted them to each have this different militaristic nature as a sea god because they’re leading this huge, massive invasion force from the inhabitants of the worlds they once ruled over.
Nrama: And these inhabitants will then rule over the Earth? And their goal is to rule over humans that have been turned into these … what do you call them?
Tynion: Oh, I don’t know. Fish zombies? [Laughs.]
Nrama: And this is all connected to the Legion of Doom, as you mentioned. In this week’s framing issue, will we see more about Black Manta’s role in this?
Tynion: Yes, we see Black Manta really take the center stage here. Back in Justice League #8, we saw Cheetah kill Poseidon. And that’s really one of the major moments that instigated the entire events of this arc.
But we also saw that the artifact that Black Manta took from the undersea base in the first arc of Justice League — that’s an important piece. That is going to be a key, key piece in this arc.
Nrama: But this first issue, this framing issue, kind of kicks off all these elements, from Aquaman and Wonder Woman to Mera and Ocean Master, to Batman and the Justice League — all dealing with the effects of the Ocean Lords?
Tynion: Yes. This is the first wave of the invasion. This is the Justice League completely overwhelmed, trying to survive an invasion when they’re down a few members. Three of their members are off-world, two more have fallen off radar — Wonder Woman and Aquaman are not responding to any communications. Batman’s in a wheelchair in the Hall of Justice. And they are trying to fight three gods who have set off on a full invasion and flooding of the Earth.
That is going to be pretty hard on the Justice League and pretty much everyone. That’s also one of the things that makes this issue so much fun to write.