One of the strongest aspects of DC Comics’ New 52 is the ability to introduce new characters and concepts to the core of their long established mythologies, and no hero has benefited more from this treatment than Aquaman! Now helming a second ongoing series beginning in April, the King of the Seven Seas will be leading the Others to new adventures as guided by writer Dan Jurgens. No stranger to Aquaman himself, having written his ongoing series in one previous iteration, Jurgens took time out of his busy schedule to share some thoughts on the characters we’ll see grow in the series, how Aquaman may be different this time around, and a little on diversity in comics in general.
Matt Santori-Griffith: Welcome back to the world of Aquaman, Dan! It’s been awhile since you last wrote the King of the Seven Seas. How do you feel about returning to the character, especially now in the New 52?
Dan Jurgens: It’s tremendous fun, in no small part because Geoff Johns did a tremendous job reshaping the character. He took the idea that Aquaman is a bit of a joke head on and turned it on its ear. He’s more fully fleshed out and charismatic. At the same time, the concepts of his past and Atlantis are a bit more mysterious, which is fun to play with.
MSG: With the launch of Aquaman and the Others, we’re seeing a franchise beginning to develop around what some would imagine is the unlikeliest hero. What does this ragtag team bring out in Aquaman’s character that Mera or the Justice League don’t?
DJ: First of all, I certainly don’t think of them as a ragtag team.
I would say that it’s a team of disparate personalities and characters, which is what I like about it. They come from different places and have very different backgrounds, which makes for an interesting mix.
With the Justice League, you have a group of characters who want to be part of the team. These guys are more casual than that, and ultimately, I think Aquaman is the glue that holds them together. Without him, there is no group. They are the “Other League”.
MSG: As sort of a quintessential James Bond figure, the Operative seems most likely to challenge Arthur’s perspective on the world and how they as heroes interact with it. What do you see is his motivation on the team and do his loyalties really lie with the Others?
DJ: Those are aspects of the Operative that we’ll actually be exploring as the series unfolds.
He’s clearly a man with a multifaceted background– a man who likely worked for any number of nations but at the same time served none.
But he’s older now and might be a bit more inclined to pursue a cause because it’s right, rather than for how much it might have paid or what it could do for him.
MSG: In contrast, Prisoner of War seems deeply committed to keeping connections and making amends with those he’s served with in the past. Will we be seeing much of this character’s history going forward and how do you believe his past shapes his actions with the team today?
DJ: Oh, we’ll absolutely be looking in on some of his history. We have to know not only who he was but who the men in his unit were, as that all shapes the character.
Like many who serve, Prisoner-of-War wore his nation’s uniform for the right reasons. Even then he saw a greater place in the world for himself and that isn’t a bout to change.
MSG: Ya’Wara has perhaps been the most popular of the team to date — not surprisingly, as we seem to know the most about her. Established as the chosen Jaguar Goddess in the pages of Justice League, and revealed as bisexual in subsequent issues of Aquaman, what are your thoughts on what she brings to the dynamic of the team, particularly in relation to Arthur?
DJ: I find Ya’Wara to be incredibly interesting because her background is very different than what we usually see in comics. At the same time, she has an edge to her that isn’t typical of female characters. That will provide some cool moments down the road.
While it’s true that Sky identified Ya’Wara’s interest in Kahina, it’s just as true that it would appear Aquaman and she had a relationship that went deeper as well. Those are aspects of her character that we’ll certainly be exploring.
MSG: As the latest recruit, and replacement for the late Kahina the Seer, Sky is literally the new kid on the block. Will we be exploring the team through her eyes, and — with two members having gone to the grave — will her powers of necromancy be a vehicle for that exploration?
DJ: Absolutely. Sky has made it clear that she “talked” with Kahina at some point. There’s no reason we can’t find out more about what might have been said in the past– or what might be said in the future.
MSG: Since their last battle with Black Manta, the team has been short one member, as Vostok-X gave his life for the good of the team. Meanwhile, the Operative’s grandson Aaron is in the picture. Will he be playing a role in the series, particularly given his infatuation with Sky?
DJ: Aaron will continue to be part of the series, though not in the way you necessarily think. I think there’s a place for a non-powered character who can still be very, very useful to the team.
MSG: More generally, the Others, along with the Movement, is one of the few richly multicultural super-hero teams in comics today. What are your thoughts on the responsibility or privilege of this kind of diverse representation?
DJ: Anytime a writer takes on a book, the idea is to build out each character into something unique to them.
In this case, the diversity of background will have to be a strong part of that. That will have to shape their motivation as well as the way they relate to one another. A writer has to be on top of his or her game to do that well so I hope I’m up to the task.
MSG: Any final thoughts or special teases for the Comicosity audience?
DJ: It’s a unique blend of characters, which will hopefully make for a unique blend of stories. We think we have the opportunity to find a somewhat underserved spot in the market and I encourage everyone to give us a try.
Aquaman and the Others debuts from DC Comics in April 2014. In the meantime, if you want to catch up on the Others’ backstory, check out Aquaman Volume 2: The Others, available in comic shops and bookstores now.