Aquaman Annual #4
Title: Dead Calm
Cover Title: The Judgment of Kings
Cover Date: 1998 (15 July 1998)
Theme: JLA - Ghosts
Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Vince Giarrano
Inks: Jonathan Sibal
Colors: Michael Danza
Lettering: Albert DeGuzman
Asst. Editor: Chuck Kim
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Cover: Bernie Wrightson
Cover Price: $2.95
During a quiet night, Aquaman is re-reading the Chronicles of Atlantis when Arthur Junior, his dead son, appears before him. Arthur keeps asking "Why?", then swims away. Aquaman follows him to the Aquacave.
A woman of Poseidonis who killed her slobby husband is haunted by his ghost, which she kills repeatedly.
The leader of the Shalakites is surprised by the sudden appearance of Shalako himself, who declares their beliefs in him to be false, and tells them to worship Suula, the goddess of the skies.
In the Aquacave, Arthur Junior continues to ask "Why?" and Aquaman confronts another ghost: of the mysterious Atlantean Queen Lorelei. She attempts to seduce him, and Orin, the first King of Poseidonis, arrives.
Vulko and Koryak are fetching the militia to deal with the Shalako imposter in the temple, but the militia is dealing with their own ghosts in the form of Honsu the Conquerer and Prince Kraken. They incite the crowd to follow them in battle.
Garth is out of the city, with Dolphin. He is awakened by... Tula. She knows that she is dead, and they have a frank talk about life and death and love.
Orin the First and Aquaman discuss the night's events. Aquaman learns that the ghost of Dardanus is in Tritonis inciting Iquila's people to war against Poseidonis. He vows to stop it, when Lorelei asks why. Lorelei then tries to seduce both Aquaman and Orin at once...
Shalako gloats in the coming battle between Tritonis and Poseidonis. Orin and Aquaman leave the Aquacave after tying up Lorelei so she can't affect the battle. As Shalako begs the gods to allow him and the other kings to live again after the sacrifice of the citizens of Atlantis they are about to give, Aquaman arrives between the armies and orders them to stop the madness.
Tula learns that Aqualad is truly over her, and that he values his continuing life more than being reunited with her prematurely in death.
Aquaman battles Honsu, Kraken, and Dardanus, who get a little help from Lorelei, while Orin tries to talk sense into Shalako. When Shalako lets go of his dream of living again, the hatred is lifted from the gathered armies of Atlanteans. A light illuminates the depths, and the ghosts vanish. Except Arthur Junior, who again asks "Why?" Aquaman asks him "Why what?" Arthur Junior responds, "Why no hug?" Aquaman hugs his dead son as he vanishes again.
Dolphin and Garth get to know each other a little better, and Dolphin dispells Garth's pain at seeing Tula yet again.
The murderess in Poseidonis goes before Aquaman and confesses her crime, pleads guilty, and goes to her exile, hoping it will stop her husband from haunting her.
A great looking cover, if a little busy. The "ghosts" on the cover are a little more... decayed... than the ones inside the book. Aquaman's hook has a beehive look that it's never sported before, too.
The creative team listed on the cover is wrong.
This story works much better if you've read The Atlantis Chronicles. If you need a hint that you ought to read them, just look at the first page. Yes, that's the logo from the comic book on Aquaman's copy.
A scorecard of the ghosts who show up in this issue:
Aquaman's hook is retracted at the beginning of this story, underscoring that it is a weapon he doesn't leave armed when relaxing. He actually extends it to poke himself to make sure he's not dreaming.
Garth and Tula have one final meeting, until next time. The purpose of the meeting is to determine if Garth is truly over Tula enough to have another relationship. He is.
The murderess dealing with her dead husband coming back was a piece of typical Peter David comic relief. The man didn't even accuse her angrily, just adopted his old habits that drove her to kill him in the first place. When she confesses, Aquaman tells her that the ghosts are gone, but her personal ghost has hung around to torment her further.
The swan song for PAD's Aquaman, well worth the money if you are familiar with the Atlantis Chronicles and the rest of PAD's Aqua-work.