The Aquaman Shrine: After several issues of wall-to-wall action, this first installment of "Maelstrom" immediately seems to be setting up a story that's more contemplative, more internal. Is this on purpose?
Jeff Parker: Well issue #35 is a bit of calm before the storm, and it reflects the fact that Aquaman has taken some time to think on things and is ready to start making some calls. The whole Maelstrom arc is completely driven by him instead of him reacting to outside forces, which is what tends to happen with super hero figures. He’s realizing that he’s taken a lot of things for granted and not questioned enough, and now he’s charting a new course. And he well knows that digging up secrets doesn’t always improve things, it can make them worse, but he’s dead set on finding out the truth about his mother Atlanna.
AMS: You've given both Aquaman and Mera--especially Mera--the occasional funny aside ("Now you're going the fun way", "Vow eternal vigilance, knock yourself out"). Is this a way of drawing a distinct line between the New 52 versions of the characters and the older versions, who both could be pretty grim sourpusses?
AMS: After some initial hesitation right after the change, Aqua-Fans have really taken to Paul Pelletier and Sean Parsons work on the book. Can you describe your working relationship with them? Has it changed over the year you've been doing the book?
AMS: Your stories have subtle, and sometimes explicit, references to Aquaman stories and characters of the past. We know you're a long time fan of the character, so are these easter eggs for similar fans, or do they have a greater thematic purpose?
JP: They work as easter eggs, but I really choose them because I think they’ll work or this still some magic in the concepts that can be polished back to the surface. There’s a certain quirkiness in those old stories and stuff of the time like the early Doom Patrol that I really like and think works in this world.
AMS: When preparing another arc like "Malestrom", what's your writing process like? Do you have an endpoint you want Aquaman to reach and fill in to get there, or do different moments come to you and then you shape them to fit the narrative later on?
JP: Usually that is exactly the case, but this time it was different. This time I wanted Arthur to get headstrong about an idea and pursue it, no matter what it results in, so I began writing without a clear end in mind, which is not often what I do. But it’s really paid off, once I outlined the story and started to realize what could happen, I was very happy. And we get some cool interactions with characters like the Martian Manhunter and Gorilla Grodd, it’s a full-on quest.
AMS: You're writing Aquaman at a time that could arguably be called the most popular the character has ever been. Does that zeitgeist bleed in to how you write him? Your Aquaman seems more confident, more sure of himself, than previous versions. Is this a coincidence?
In my mind, Arthur Curry has been kind of dodging the duties he accepted, an extremely reluctant king who would rather be out saving the day instead of making decisions of court. And that hasn’t changed, he’s still that way- he was raised in a quiet lighthouse where you worry about people’s safety, he wasn’t taught how to be a royal leader. But he’s made enough saves at this point that he is feeling confident about calling some shots. And he’s doing the things that come with getting a bit wiser--instead of still holding grudges like he well could with Dr. Shin and Daniel Evans, he’s realizing that they’re his best chance for answers and bringing them into his circle for help. He goes against the Atlantean Council over people who even tried to kill Mera--these are tough choices, and he’s committing to them.
AMS: And finally, as Aquaman's current caretaker, what's your take on Jason Momoa as the Sea King?
JP: I love it, that was a fantastic bit of casting. I don’t care that it will probably be different than what we have in the books, I’m excited for it on its own terms and can’t wait to see him as Aquaman.
The Aquaman Shrine thanks Jeff Parker once again for sharing his thoughts with us, and of course for doing such a great job with Aquaman! "Maelstrom" Part 2 hits shelves November 26!