With Tad Williams taking over Aquaman, I'm presuming that a number of people who are Tad Williams fans will be reading the book for the first time. This page is an attempt to explain the current cast of the book... which characters are new and which have shown up before, so that new readers can more easily enjoy the story.
SPOILERS!!!!! There will be spoilers for the current issue of Aquaman ahead, please read the book first!
Characters in Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #50 - in order of appearance:
- Narwhal (Issitoq) - First appearance. Hints are given as to a previous identity, but this is his first appearance as Narwhal.
Narwhal from Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #50
- Pardoner - First appearance. A minion of the Bishop of the Deep Church.
Pardoner from Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #50
- Aquaman (Arthur Joseph Curry) - Introduced in Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #40. Arthur's father was a oceanobiologist, and when Arthur was born prematurely, the only way to save him was to give him an experimental serum that made him into a water-breather. He was released into the ocean during a storm that destroyed his father's facility, met King Shark and the Dweller and became the new Aquaman. Arthur internalized a magical translation device when healed by the Dweller, and has the ability to understand undersea languages, along with possible other powers. He cannot breathe air for very long.
Arthur Joseph Curry from various issues
- The Dweller of the Depths (Orin, Arthur Curry, Formerly Aquaman) - This is the former Aquaman, but he's been transformed by some force that he does not remember. He has amnesia, and crafted a prophecy based on his own life that led to Arthur Joseph becoming the new Aquaman. The entire left side of his body is now made up of mystical water, as seen in Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #45. His abilities include the ability to heal with his left hand.
The Dweller from various issues
- King Shark (Nanaue) - The son of the God of All Sharks, King Shark is a bad bad guy who has been hanging with Arthur and the Dweller since Arthur helped him in Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #40. He left for awhile, but came back under mysterious circumstances. King Shark absolutely HATES the original Aquaman for spearing him during a battle (the injury is still there, and the Dweller's abilities could not heal it). King Shark has taken advice from Vulko, and respects him as much as a killing machine is able to respect.
King Shark from various issues
- Purification Shoal - First appearance. The honor guard of the Deep Church, beating up on Topo when they first appear.
Purification Shoal from Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #50
- Topo - First appearance. He is a coleoid humanoid, a freeborn citizen of Neos. The name is from an old Aquaman octopus friend. Topo was a loyal pal and even babysitter during the Silver Age.
Topo from Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #50
- The Bishop of the Deep Church - First appearance.
The Bishop of the Deep Church from Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #50
- Mera - Aquaman's former wife. Mera comes from another dimension, where she was queen and ruler. She gave it all up to marry Aquaman. Misfortune plagued their union, though. Their baby son was murdered by Black Manta, then she was kidnapped by Thanatos and had another son. Her second son aged rapidly when brought into Aquaman's dimension, so she chose to leave with him back to another dimension. Eventually she was brought back to Aquaman's world, and has been dealing with her relationship with Aquaman ever since. After the Obsidian Age, she was drugged by the Sorcerers of Atlantis and forced to sentence Aquaman to death. The sorcerer Hagen also turned her into an air-breather, which led to sorcerous attempts to change her back when Hagen was overthrown. Those attempts attracted the Spectre, who destroyed Atlantis. One year later, she is living under the ocean again, but we haven't yet learned how she was changed back into a water-breather. She knows that the Dweller is Aquaman, even though he refuses to admit it himself.
Mera from various issues
- Tempest (Garth, Formerly Aqualad) - Found as a young boy by Aquaman, Garth became Aqualad and shared many adventures with Aquaman. He also joined the Teen Titans, and had a series of adventures with them. When Black Manta pitted Aquaman against Aqualad for the life of Aquaman's son, Aquaman attempted to kill Aqualad for real. This changed their relationship forever, and led to Aqualad going off alone to find his parents. He succeeded in his quest, learning that he was the son of a King and heir to incredible mystical powers. After claiming those powers, he became Tempest, and rejoined Aquaman as an equal. Of late, he married Dolphin and they had a son, Cerdian (Ian for short) together. When the Spectre destroyed Atlantis, Dolphin and Ian vanished.
Garth from various issues
- Jim Lockhart (Red Torpedo) - Co-administrator of the Windward Home, a peaceful place of research and education. He was a hero in the Golden Age and a member of the Freedom Fighters.
Jim Lockhart from Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #43
- Vulko (now a ghost) - Vulko was a member of the leadership of Atlantis when Aquaman (Orin) was born. He is a scholar and scientist, and one of Aquaman's oldest friends. Vulko was killed when the Spectre destroyed Atlantis, and found himself drawn to the Windward Home, where he took up residence as a ghost. He is an expert in Atlantean knowledge.
Vulko, alive and dead
- Elsa Magnusson - Co-administrator of the Windward Home, a peaceful place of research and education. Elsa is the widow of Mark Merlin, Prince Ra-Man, and a sorceress in her own right.
Elsa Magnusson from Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #43
- Atsiul - Introduced in Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #41. Atsiul is a warrior who joined the scattered forces of Atlantis and became loyal to Mera. He was captured by Aurati raiders and rescued by Arthur and King Shark, but didn't trust Arthur at all. After Arthur defeated him in single combat, Atsiul got a bit more friendly. He starts this story as a leader in the guard of Atlantis.
- Cal Durham - Introduced in Adventure Comics #452 (Jul/Aug-1977), Cal was a lackey of Black Manta, who believed in a new homeland under the waves for those oppressed above the waves. He became disenchanted with Manta after seeing his methods, and rescued Aquaman from one of Manta's traps. After serving his time in prison, Cal went to New Venice to find Aquaman and warn him about a new plot against Atlantis. He hasn't been seen in an Aquaman comic since the early 1980s. Cal cannot breathe air.
Cal Durham from Adventure Comics #452 and #477
- Rodunn - Introduced in Aquaman #63 (Jan-2000), he was Aquaman's personal guard. Intensely loyal to Aquaman, his opinions were changed after the time of the Obsidian Age, and he was part of the crew that attempted to carry out Aquaman's death sentence. Sent to finish the job, he had a revelation after Aquaman used the water hand to heal him, and became fanatically loyal to Aquaman again. Rodunn is covered with scars from his injuries. In Sword of Atlantis, Rodunn is Mera's personal guard.
Rodunn from various issues
Places/Groups important to understanding Sword of Atlantis.
- Atlantis - Depending on who you talk to, this either refers to the whole of the sunken continent of Atlantis, or the capital city, which is also known as Poseidonis. Some surface-dwellers make it out to mean all the territory under the sea, but to those who live in the sea, it means a specific place OR a specific power (government).
- Poseidonis - The capital city of Atlantis. Survived the great deluge under the leadership of the historical Orin. The inhabitants tend to be dark-haired and humanoid. As a group, they tend to be very xenophobic, but after their recent experiences that trait is less likely to be shown outright. During recent events, the city was completely destroyed by The Spectre for its use of magic. It is now in ruins.
- Tritonis - The sister city of Poseidonis, the inhabitants are mostly mer-folk.
- Thierna Na Oge - A city of magic ruled by Nuada Silverhand.
- Sub Diego - Created when part of San Diego fell into the ocean in Aquaman #15 (Apr-2004). The disaster was planned by unknown forces, and created a new group of underwater breathers who cannot breathe air. Instrumental in creating the waterbreathers was Geist, who also worked for Arthur Joseph's father before he worked for the people who sank San Diego.
- Windward Home - A magical floating mansion that serves as a cross-specialization think tank, answerable to no government or nation. It stays in international waters. The people of Windward Home attempt to broker nonviolent solutions to world problems and get people to look at things in different ways. Jim Lockhart, Elsa Magnusson and Vulko are based on Windward Home, as are the Sea Devils, led by Dane Dorrance.
- Surfaceman's Grave - A trading center where survivors from Atlantis have gathered. Arthur Joseph met Mera there for the first time.
- Ymirsheim - First appearance. A mysterious island discovered by the researchers of Windward Home. Contains ancient Atlantean writing.
- Neos - First appearance. Topo is from there.
- Dyss - First appearance.
Recent Events in Atlantis
It's horrible to be an Atlantean! Through the past few years there have been some awful events to deal with. It's a wonder the entire populace isn't utterly insane!
There aren't any good starting points to describe the woes of the Atlantean people, so let's just start with their general background. The city was sunk in the time of the historical Orin, as seen in The Atlantis Chronicles. The survivors developed into an insular and xenophobic race that nonetheless managed to colonize a good portion of the ocean floor.
Not too many years ago, as the time flows, earthquakes made the city too dangerous to live in, and the people fled Poseidonis. Led by Aquaman's son Koryak, they went to their sister city, Tritonis, and asked for access to the tunnels, which was only granted under duress. Unfortunately, in the tunnels they found an ancient Atlantean nightmare who enslaved them, then conquered the Tritonians. After the nightmare was vanquished by Aquaman, the people of Poseidonis were forced to rebuild Tritonis, then serve the Tritonians as long as their king felt was needed to pay back for helping conquer them.
In the meantime, the city of Poseidonis itself rose from the ocean floor on the back of the meteor that originally sunk the continent. It turned out to be a giant ancient alien ship, and with it Aquaman was able to fly the entire city around. The people eventually returned to the city, with Aquaman now firmly in control. After a time as "surface dwellers" living in the floating city of Poseidonis, complete with tourists, the city was sunk again when an attack by the god Triton destroyed the ship.
After Aquaman got back in control, there was peace for a bit until an attack by the island nation of Cerdia leveled much of the city. An all-out war between Atlantis and Cerdia resulted in Atlantis annexing Cerdia as part of their territory.
Then came the Imperiex attacks. Atlantis was threatened, so Aquaman and Tempest used a fallback plan they had prepared to send the city back in time to a golden age in Atlantis' history where the people could recover then return. The spell went wrong, however, as the golden age wasn't. The people of Atlantis spent 15 years in their own history, working as slaves for their ancestors.
They were freed when the Justice League went through time to sort out the mystery of the missing city. As they left the past, Aquaman sank Atlantis again, which made him a criminal to his own people. They sentenced Aquaman to die, then used magics they had gleaned from their ancestor captors to rebuild the city. Those Atlanteans who had journeyed to the past were more likely to use magic than they had previously. This would be their downfall.
During yet another worldwide crisis, the Spectre crossed the world collecting and destroying all magic. The sorcerors of Atlantis brought the wrath of the Spectre down on the city, and he destroyed it. Vulko and Koryak (Aquaman's son) were killed in the attack, Dolphin and Ian (Tempest's wife and son) vanished. Many of the citizens went to Sub Diego to try to pick up the pieces of their lives there.
When Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis started one year after the destruction of the city, Mera was back and acting as ruler to the scattered remains of the Atlantean people, trying to pull back enough of the ocean's strength to make the city rise again.