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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Atlantis Chronicles #7 - Sept. 1990

Comics Weekend "The Atlantis Chronicles" by Peter David and Esteban Maroto.

After suffering a defeat in Egypt, the Atlanteans moved onto Greece where, weakened, the Greeks fought so effectively that many of the Atlanteans wanted to give up.

Honsu wanted the battle ended quickly, so he offers to put up their greatest warrior versus the Greek's. In this case, Honsu's son Kraken:
It looks as though Kraken is going to make quick work of his opponent, until the Greek warrior jabs a jagged stone into Kraken's head, killing him. Honsu is reduced the tears--the first time an Atlantean has ever had the ability to cry--and the masked warrior reveals himself to be...Honsu's other son Haumond!

Haumond admonishes his father, saying he has caused enough destruction to both worlds. He will stay on land, while his father and his army return to the sea.

We then learn that the old priest telling the story this whole is time is Haumond himself. He is visited by Atlan (who still looks young, thanks to his living under the sea all this time), who tells his brother the sad history of Atlantis in the intervening years--more betrayals, more murders, more intrigue. Haumond responds woefully, "How very much the same."
Manuel's shipmates laugh at him when they cannot find the mermaid he swore he saw, but we know he's right.

Under the sea, more time has passed, and we have a new historian, Atlanna, who also happens to the queen of Atlantis. We get a sense of where we are in human history when an Atlantean brings a sort of good-luck charm to his king Trevis--a life preserver marked "U.S.S. Titanic."

The conservation is halted when a young boy is brought in, clinging to life after a barrel of toxic chemicals spilled on him. Despite all their attempts to save him, the young boy dies.

This causes another rift in the Atlantean power structure--one of the ruling council, a man named Kalandro, insists that the surface world is infringing more and more on their world, and they must do something to stop it. He is countered by another member of the council...named Vulko.

Meanwhile, Atlanna is haunted by the fact that she has not been able to provide her husband--and Atlantis--with an heir:
Atlanna gets her wish, and finds herself back in bed next to her husband. Atlan has told her what will become of her son, about how he will have wisdom and leadership, how he will be a great warrior, how he will produce a child, and how he is destined to battle with his half-brother, who Atlan will also sire: "Their final battle will decide the ultimate destiny of Atlantis. Either it will rejoin the surface world...or be destroyed...forever."

Atlanna thinks she may have dreamed the whole thing, and that its Trevis who is the father. But when fish begin accosting the now-pregnant Atlanna, she starts to have her doubts.

Eventually, the child is born, but all is not good: the child bears the birthmark of Kordax, which many of the royal council think is a harbinger of doom. Vulko thinks that is ridiculous, insane even. They turn to their king Trevis for a decision.

Trevis quietly takes the child and plans to abandon it in the sea. After doing the ugly deed, he writes in Atlanna's journal how sorry he is for what he's done, and how unworthy he is of her. He takes a knife, and opens his veins, dying almost immediately.

Atlanna, having recovered from giving birth, returns to her journal:
...the end!

And so we've come to the end of the Atlantis Chronicles: a sprawling, hugely complex series, wonderfully realized by Peter David and Esteban Maroto.

As most of you know, I'm generally not a huge fan of the "hook for a hand", more mystical/fantasy era Aquaman that Peter David ushered in in the 90s. And while I have a greater appreciation for it now than I used to, a lot of it still leaves me cold.

That said, I can say without a doubt that I think this series is David's single greatest contribution to the Aquaman character. Combining elements from history, mythology, and of course comics, David weaves a complex, human tale that, to me, gives Aquaman the character a mythological heft that leaves almost all the other DCU characters in the dust.

He's helped of course by the superb work of Maroto, who gives the whole series a classic, adult look, something really out of step with 90s-era comic books. How this series has not been collected in some more deluxe format yet is baffling to me.

This is a truly wonderful series, and it works whether you're a big Aquaman fan or not (of course, you wouldn't be here if you weren't). These issues can be found very cheaply on eBay, and the Shrine recommends them to anyone interested in a really good story, brilliantly told.

I enjoyed this series so much, and as I read it certain questions about it popped into my head. So I contacted my friend--and Atlantis Chronicles editor--Bob Greenberger for an interview about the series, which we'll see here tomorrow!


Michael Jones said...

This is the only issue of the series that I was unable to obtain. After seeing that cover, I can see why others snapped it up! Now I know how the series ended...thanks.

Wings1295 said...

Quite epic & sweeping, complex and intense. Don't know of any other character with a complex origin tale like this. Truly magnificent.

Wings1295 said...

And can't wait for the interview tomorrow!

Joe Slab said...

What followed this series rob? What is the Time and Tide mini-series or did it lead directly into Aquaman #0 where he lost his hand?

Joe Slab said...

Correction: I mean Aquaman #1 by PAD, I believe # 0 actually came out after #1 for some reason ???

Caeb02 said...

when I read Atlantis Chronicles, a long time ago,I realize the great character Aquaman was. Since then I become a great Aquaman fan. Thanks for the Aquaman Shrine!

Greetings from Chile.

(excuse the poor english)

rob! said...

Michael--Glad to be of service!

Joe--Yeah, the scope of it is pretty amazing, especially in retrospect. Its like if DC did "Tales of Gotham" with no Batman until the last page.

Joe II--AC came out during a point where Aquaman had no series. The next Aquaman book after this was Volume 4, the Shaun McLaughlin run.

Caeb--Thanks for commenting, welcome!

Tempest127 said...

Joe, the reason issue #1 came before #0 was because of Zero Hour, the DCU cross-over event of that year. All titles during that month sported a "0" issue number no matter where the title was in its run.