Each Friday, we'll be letting a different DC.com writer share what they'll be reading over the weekend and why you might want to check it out. Here's this week's suggestion for a perfect Weekend Escape!
As we prepare to immerse ourselves in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, there’s no better time to get our feet wet in exploring Atlantis. We know it as the home of Aquaman’s royal palace, the seat of his power as king of the seven seas. But what do we really know about the people who live there? What is it like for the Atlanteans who live in the city’s lowest depths, beyond the notice of the crown? When Aquaman is deposed from his throne by an upstart usurper, that’s exactly what he finds out for himself. Welcome to Aquaman: Underworld.
Previously in Aquaman, the populist revolutionary Corum Rath led a successful rebellion against the crown with his “Atlanteans first” policies, taking advantage of an isolationist movement growing in opposition to Aquaman’s efforts to make Atlantis part of the larger international community. Now with Atlantis sealed off from the rest of the world by magic and Arthur left for dead, Aquaman takes up residence in the Ninth Tride—the poorest neighborhood in Atlantis, inhabited by its most neglected citizens. Here, Arthur finally learns to know the people he once presumed to rule for the first time…and that perhaps there’s a better way forward.
Let’s Talk Talent:
When you see Dan Abnett’s name on a comic book, that’s a guarantee you’re going to have a good time. This is the guy who brought us the most interesting modern take on the Legion of Super-Heroes, and you can quote me on that. He gave us Resurrection Man, one of DC’s most underrated titles from the ’90s, and his run on the also underread Justice League Odyssey stands up to any of the great cosmic sagas told within the DC Universe. And yet, Abnett’s Aquaman may stand as the highlight of his work with DC. After Geoff Johns restored respect to the King of Atlantis in the New 52, Abnett was given the unenviable task of following his act and did so exploring new depths within the character. In Underworld, Arthur’s journey reaches a pivotal point where he learns the lesson any monarch with a conscience must eventually wrestle with—that there is no moral way to be a king.
But if you’re checking in with Aquaman: Underworld, there’s a reason you’re here, and not at 2016’s Aquaman #1. I’m guessing that it’s the indomitable, game-changing talent that is Stjepan Šejić. When we’re told about the lost, otherworldly beauty of Atlantis, we typically have to take a writer’s word for it, but that’s not the case with Šejić, who makes us want to grow a set of gills and live inside of it. If there’s anybody in the world who can make Aquaman look sexier than Jason Momoa, it’s this guy right here.
A Few Reasons to Read:
- How the Other Half Lives: When we spend time in Atlantis with Aquaman, it’s usually at the palace before Arthur is called to protect its borders from some encroaching threat. But with Corum Rath having taken the throne, and the magical “Crown of Thorns” keeping everyone inside the city, Aquaman has the occasion to really explore Atlantis as one of its people for the first time in recent memory. Aquaman: Underworld is where we learn what it’s like not just to be a royal subject, but an Atlantean citizen.
- Deep Sea Magic: Aquaman: Underworld isn’t just a book about political intrigue and city life—it’s also deeply invested in the particulars of Atlantean sorcery, a culture all its own as the most ancient tradition in magic. Hauntingly depicted and intricately woven, you’ll have to forgive us for saying it truly casts a spell.
- King Shark is a Shark: Aquaman: Underworld doesn’t just give us a brand-new perspective on Atlantis and Aquaman’s role in it, it also redefines one of DC’s most iconic undersea villains. After all, if Atlantis has an underworld, then it must have its own kingpins of crime who run illegal trade and operations beneath the kingdom’s notice. And what better kingpin among the fish can there be than King Shark? It’s here that we get to know Nanaue in an entirely new way, as a shrewd operator beneath the sea fathoms apart from his mindless, man-eating reputation on land.
- It's Dolphin!: Aquaman: Underworld features the return of an popular supporting character who hadn’t been seen in quite a while—the winsome, white-haired, mute ingénue known only as Dolphin. Capturing hearts since 1968, Dolphin is drawn here by Stjepan Šejić in a way that makes you fall in love with her at first sight. For Aquaman, knowing her will lead to the most important decision he’s ever made in his life.
- That Art, Though: Seriously, you’ve never seen an Aquaman comic drawn like this. Often achingly beautiful with page after page suitable for framing, the ocean depths have never looked so good.
Why It’s Worth Your Time:
With its impeccable artwork. exploration of Atlantis and examination of a longstanding monarchy Aquaman has almost always taken for granted, Aquaman: Underworld is the perfect story for anyone who thinks of Arthur Curry as simply the king of the seas who can talk to fish. Because in this chapter of Aquaman’s saga, for what may be the first time, it’s here that Arthur finally begins listening to fish.
Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly "Ask the Question" column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for DC.com. Follow him on Bluesky at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Alex Jaffe and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros., nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.