Showcase '96 #1 - Charted Courses
Title: Charted Courses
Cover Date: January 1996
Anthology: Three Stories
Other Stories: "Friends, Foes, and the Other Guys, Part 1" and "All the Old Familiar Places"
Writer: Phil Jimenez
Pencils: Scott Kolins
Inks: Scott Kolins
Colors: Tom McCraw
Lettering: Albert DeGuzman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.95
Aqualad, Garth, dead to the real world, has lived for months in the Grotto with Atlan, Aquaman's father. During this time, Atlan has trained Garth to use the natural sorcery he was born with, including powers of ice and fire.
But now it is time for Garth to return to the real world, to live again. The Grotto is a convergence point between many planes of existence, and Garth has merely to swim through to the surface to go home. But Garth doesn't think he's ready. His destiny is to become the guardian of all humanoid communities beneath the sea, as Aquaman's duty is to the creatures, and the responsibility scares him.
Atlan insists that he go, and Garth feels the helplessness of fighting against fate. Atlan shrugs and tells him that if he wants to stay, the guardian of the Grotto, Thedir Mon, will be sure to keep him company... by fighting him constantly.
Garth fights Thedir Mon, a giant robot. He is surprised at his own confidence and ability to fight, and decides that nothing will make him shirk his responsibilities. He suddenly realizes that Atlan set up the fight to make him more confident. He confront Atlan, who doesn't deny it. Then he goes to face his future...
First off, this is the second story in this issue of Showcase. The other two issues deal with Steel and Guy Gardner: Warrior, and Metropolis SCU. The cover has Steel and Guy on it.
There's a lot more to this story than meets the eye. First off, Garth really died in Aquaman #9. He was brought into this other dimension by Atlan, or he would've gone to whatever passes as DCU Heaven...
Atlan tells Garth that he is to "become the guardian of all the humanoid communities who live beneath the sea; the many and varied beings who come from Atlantis or are descended from it." He goes on to say that as Aquaman defends the creatures, Garth will defend the people. Big stuff, there.
Thedir Mon is a representation of Aqualad, before he came to the Grotto. By defeating and destroying it, Garth symbolically deafeated his past.
A good, and necessary, bridge between Garth as last seen in Aquaman #9 and Garth as next seen in Aquaman #19.