FLASHPOINT Presentation: Tony Bedard on EMPEROR AQUAMAN



After his appearance in Brightest Day, Aquaman has emerged as a fan-favorite character, and readers are anxiously awaiting his new series next fall by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis.

But before that comic begins, DC's summer event Flashpoint will spotlight an even more bad-ass Aquaman in the three-issue mini-series Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman, which starts in June.

Written by Tony Bedard with art by Adrian Syaf, the Aquaman comic is based in the "Flashpoint universe," where someone has apparently altered the past of the DCU and its superheroes.

Although Flashpoint's orchestrator Geoff Johns gave Newsarama readers several details about the event, all we know about Aquaman is that his army is clashing with Wonder Woman and the Amazons.

And covers of their Flashpoint series have made it clear that the Amazons rule over Great Britain while Aquaman has devastated Europe, sending much of it under water.

But today, as part of our series on several Flashpoint mini-series, Bedard revealed a few more differences between Flashpoint Aquaman and his DCU counterpart. For example:

- Flashpoint Aquaman once had a relationship with Wonder Woman, and they were even "willing to give marriage a go for the sake of both their homelands."

- Something happened to change their feelings, and now they have "white-hot hatred" for each other.

- This version of the character is "scarred" and "embittered," although he feels conflicted about what he's doing in the war.

Newsarama talked with Bedard to find out more about the epic battles we'll see in Emperor Aquaman and what other characters might show up.

Newsarama: What role does Aquaman play in Flashpoint? How important is his story to what's going on in the main mini-series?

Tony Bedard: The war between Aquaman and Wonder Woman is the central global conflict in the Flashpoint universe. It dominates the headlines and places all of Europe in mortal peril, so I'd say Aquaman is a very high-profile player in the world of Flashpoint. In fact, I'd say it's the mini-series you won't want to miss from this whole event. Okay, okay, you can pick up Wonder Woman & The Furies too.

Nrama: We can only imagine that a war between Atlantis and the Amazons would be an epic battle. Will that be central to this series? Or will we find out more about this version of Aquaman himself ?

Bedard: Emperor Aquaman certainly touches upon the climactic battle between Atlantis and the Amazons, but it also gives you Aquaman's back-story, his secret origin. You get to see how his life took a different path in the Flashpoint reality and the two moments in his life that left him scarred, embittered and totally bad-ass. We'll also see a different version of familiar faces from undersea, such as Ocean Master, Mera and Doctor Vulko.

Nrama: What does Adrian Syaf's artwork bring to the series?

Bedard: I was lucky enough to work with Adrian before on my first arc of Green Lantern Corps and he's an incredibly gifted artist. There's a lot of power and dynamism in his figures, and his stuff just plain looks like big league superhero comics. Just like you know when you're watching a summer blockbuster movie by the look of it, that's the feeling you get looking at Adrian's pages. They have that grandeur you see in Jim Lee or Andy Kubert or Bryan Hitch.

Nrama: What can you tell us about this Aquaman? Who is he? And what side of him will we see in this series?

Bedard: As in the regular DCU, he is Arthur Curry, half-human King of Atlantis. But some crucial things went differently in his childhood and he grew up to be cruel and ruthless. He was cast out of Atlantis as a child to die of exposure, but the ocean animals sensed that he was the Sea King -- lord of all life beneath the waves -- and they bore him to his human father, Tom Curry, who raised him through most of his youth. Tom tried to have the sort of influence on his son that Pa Kent had on Superman, but things turned out tragically different.

Nrama: How would you describe his relationship with Wonder Woman?

Bedard: White-hot hatred. They blame each other for the most painful losses in their lives and it's pretty much kill-on-sight now. But once it was not so. They used to get along, and if it wasn't true love, at least they were willing to give marriage a go for the sake of both their homelands. But that only makes it more acrimonious now. They both feel completely betrayed by each other.

Nrama: This Aquaman appears to be a darker version of the Arthur Curry we know. But deep inside, is Flashpoint's Aquaman still the same character we know?

Bedard: Emperor Aquaman is definitely a darker mirror version of "our" Aquaman, but he isn't a heartless monster. He feels conflicted and guilty and everything else you might expect. But he's gone so far over the line that now there's no going back.

Nrama: Do you think readers will take the side of Aquaman, or Wonder Woman in the conflict? Or are they both so different from their usual selves that it will be hard to choose?


Bedard: If everybody does their job right, readers of Wonder Woman & The Furies will take Wonder Woman's side. Readers of Emperor Aquaman will take Aquaman's side. And with Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning writing the Wonder Woman series, I have no doubt they'll make her case eloquently. In fact, I'm picking up my game. I always felt a sort of friendly competition with those guys when they were doing the Marvel cosmic books and I was doing R.E.B.E.L.S. Now I have to knock it out of Flashpoint Park further than they do.

Nrama: You mentioned that we'll see Aquaman's history. Does the series take place in the present day of Flashpoint, or is it more about the past events that led up to Flashpoint and caused these characters to act this way?

Bedard: Emperor Aquaman actually bounces back and forth between the current war against the Amazons and the events that led up to Aquaman's decision to wipe out Europe. He seems like a monster at first, but the more you learn about his past, the more sympathetic he becomes. I'm hoping that by the end of issue #3 we'll have a very 3-dimensional villain here.

Nrama: Are you coordinating this with the Wonder Woman and Lois Lane writers?

Bedard: I've had conference calls with Dan [Abnett] and Andy [Lanning] so we're on the same page. They're both lovely fellows. I first met them a lifetime ago when I worked for Valiant Comics, and I'm so glad to have this sort of reunion with them. On the other hand, I'm enjoying tremendous freedom to flesh out this very warlike Aquaman. It's almost like "what if Aquaman was king of the Spartans?"

Nrama: What attracted you to writing a mini within the Flashpoint universe? How did you hear about the story, and why did you want to get involved?

Bedard: Geoff [Johns] called me one day and told me the basic idea and I was pretty much on board from there. The bonus part is that I get to work with one of my all-time favorite characters.

Nrama: Is the fact that he's one of your favorite characters the reason you wanted to write Aquaman for Flashpoint? Or is it related to his revival in Brightest Day?

Bedard: I've loved Aquaman since I was a kid watching the Superman/Aquaman Adventure Hour. I just pretty much assumed back then that Aquaman was of the same stature as Superman. Plus, I loved his pet walrus, Tusky. Flash forward a few years and I find out that to most comics readers, Aquaman is the Rodney Dangerfield of the Justice League. Plus, no Tusky. But that's okay, I know he's great and I'm totally enjoying Aquaman's new rock star status from Brightest Day. It's my hope in Emperor Aquaman to show a version of Aquaman that actually makes you appreciate the normal one even more.

Nrama: Aquaman is one of the rare characters that DC has confirmed will still be around after Flashpoint, because we know Geoff is writing his ongoing series later this year. Does this mini-series set things up for that series?

Bedard: I don't want to speak to the specifics of Geoff's series, except to say that I'm totally psyched that he's relaunching the character. Having seen Geoff bring the shine back to Green Lantern and the Flash, I'm happy that he's making Aquaman an A-lister like he ought to be.

Nrama: Then to finish up, Tony, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman?

Bedard: Only that the Sea King will know if you don't read his comic book. And you really, really don't want to disappoint the Sea King. Not unless you can hold your breath for a very long time.

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