by Brian Truitt)
When he's been in the Justice League over the years, Aquaman has been a small fish in a big pond when compared to the likes of Superman and Batman.
So, him leading his own superhero team is a pretty big deal for Aquaman and the continuing build-up of "a character of intellect, one of action and one who's not at all what he used to be," says Dan Jurgens, writer of DC Comics' Aquaman and the Others.
Featuring artwork by Lan Medina and Allen Martinez, the second issue (out Wednesday) continues to explore the past and the personalities of the international group introduced last year during Geoff Johns' run on the flagship Aquaman series.
There were hints and indications as to the Others' enigmatic pasts and connection to Aquaman, Jurgens says. "That's something we want to continue to build on as we try to make these characters real and something readers can latch onto."
Each of the Others carries a powerful relic connected to ancient Atlantis, and a mysterious force began to strike them individually to capture their talismans. It brought the group together, but as they've regrouped, someone's blown up their plane.
The new issue begins hinting at their secret enemy, and all will be revealed in Aquaman and the Others No. 3. Meanwhile, the roots of the relics become clear as the unseen foe draws the heroes closer together to obtain the items, Jurgens says. "It all has to work through Aquaman somehow."
Yet instead of leaning on classic Aquaman supervillains such as Black Manta and Ocean Master, Jurgens wants the Others to find their own rogues' gallery.
"If you put six people in a room together, those six people all have different and unique pasts — assuming they didn't grow up on the same block together," he says. "We can assume that all of these people made enemies along the way."
The characters in the Others are mostly based on pulp-era stereotypes: Ya'wara is the classic jungle woman individual, the late Vostok was the jetpacked hero, The Operative is your resident spy, Sky Alchesay is the Native American with a through-route to other dimensions, etc.
But Jurgens has found favorites among them as he's put the team on missions.
The writer digs Prisoner of War because he's an Army veteran who wears the dog tags of those who died in battle around him, essentially carrying their souls with him at all times.
"If he has 15 people inside of him, and their memories and personalities, what does that mean?" Jurgens says. "What were the experiences of those 15 people? And if one of those people was a paramedic, how will that help him in battle at some point?
"Really, he's intriguing because he's that many characters all rolled into one."
When she ran with Aquaman years ago, Ya'wara enjoyed a telepathic connection — and perhaps something more — with the superhero, and she "sees herself very much on Aquaman's level," Jurgens says, plus has an edge to her from being self-reliant having lived in Brazilian rainforests. (She also can communicate with jungle animals like Aquaman can with those in the sea.)
The original team of others had a psychic teammate named Kahina the Seer who had visions of the future before being murdered by Black Manta.
Her sister Sayeh has similar powers — unfortunately for her, in the first issue of Aquaman and the Others that meant having a glimpse at the world 35 years from now seen in the weekly Futures End series (also beginning Wednesday and featuring Jurgens as a co-writer) where the world's greatest heroes have been turned into frightening robots and cyborgs by Brother Eye.
Jurgens teases that upcoming issues will not only present a "reframing" of the team but also tie into Futures End and DC's "Five Years Later" line-wide crossover in September. "If you have someone who can see the future, and you're publishing a book about that future, there absolutely has to be a connection there."
When Jurgens has written issues of Justice League America and Justice League International over the years, he's had to deal with characters appearing in other titles of their own, the scribe says. "You don't have as much freedom in that kind of group book."
With Aquaman and the Others, though, the title superhero appears elsewhere but not his cohorts. "They then give me that chance to open things up a little bit," Jurgens says. "You can start to push the boundaries in such a way that I haven't typically been able to do in terms of character and development."
And drama, too, with Aquaman's main squeeze Mera showing more than a little jealousy when it comes to his relationship with Ya'wara.
"I don't know about you, but if my wife knew I had had a telepathic past with another woman, there would be questions there," Jurgens says with a laugh. "And that is definitely something we want to play around with. That's too good to overlook."