Monday, August 05, 2013

"Ghosts" of plans past...

A couple of times, we've covered one of DC or Marvel's annual crossover events, like the Terminus Factor or JLApe or Citizen Kang. I had most of DC's 1998 Ghosts crossover, where the various heroes of the Justice League are visited by spirits from their pasts, but was missing two of the issues. Well, I got those two now...and really may have to dig around for the rest, since I moved recently and my collection is a bit scattered. So, we'll take a look at a couple, set up a "Ghosts" tag, and hopefully get to the others later. Today, Aquaman Annual #4, "Dead Calm" Written by Peter David, pencils by Vince Giarrano, inks by Jonathan Sibal.

Set during the hook-hand 90's period of the book, Aquaman is having trouble sleeping, and has taken to reading back issues of the Atlantis Chronicles. He feels like he identifies more with those past kings and queens, than anyone from his own time, but is interrupted by the sudden appearance of his son Arthur Jr, who had been killed by Black Manta years ago. Still a baby, Arthur Jr asks "Why?" Aquaman takes that to mean, why is he dead, and doesn't have a good answer. Suspecting this may be an attack, Aquaman decides to try to take it out of the city; unaware that other ghosts are returning: a woman named Rivva is confronted by the ghost of her husband Mort, whom she murdered. At the church of the Shalakites, the titular sorceror Shalako returns, to tell them they're doing it all wrong, and should be trying to win the favor of the sky goddess.

Following Arthur Jr. to the old Aquacave, Aquaman finds the ghost of Queen Lorelei, who tries to seduce him; and Orin the First, who warns the ghosts of Atlantis are powerful. He has a point, since Honsu the Conqueror and Prince Kraken have also returned, and are rallying the citizens to attack the surface world. Shalako is preparing for much the same, Rivva keeps re-murdering her husband but he won't shut up, and Garth (former Aqualad, now Tempest) is visited by the ghost of Tula, the Aquagirl killed in the Crisis. Tula wants Garth to leave Dolphin, and join her instead.

Meanwhile, Orin the First explains how the ghosts are working up the people, to relive their history; and Aquaman says they must be stopped. Lorelei simply asks, "Why?" She has a somewhat valid point about the Atlanteans being "a fickle lot," who alternately worship and dethrone their king as needed, pretend to be more intellectual than they really are, and probably deserve whatever happens. Then she tries to seduce both Orins...they don't fall for it, although Orin I admits Lorelei is persuasive because there's always a little truth in her lies. As they swim to save the people, Aquaman and Orin I have a rather meta conversation, where Aquaman admits to spending most of his life, just wanting to be liked; but as king that couldn't be a concern for him anymore, and sometimes to demonstrate his confidence he may have unnecessarily alienated people. That's probably still happening to this day...

While Aquaman fights Honsu, Kraken, and later Lorelei; Orin I talks down his brother Shalako; and Garth says he can't go with Tula, which is what she wanted to her, that he was over her. The ghosts begin to disappear, but Arthur Jr. returns to ask "Why?" again.

OK, that made me tear up a little. Elsewhere, Garth is a little wrecked, but Dolphin, who slept through the whole thing, is there for him.

Finally, Rivva goes before the king, and confesses to the murder of her husband, waiving trial and going straight to exile. Aquaman tells her the dead are gone, and won't haunt her anymore, but he's dead wrong on that one.

1 comment:

SallyP said...

Ah...nothing like some Aquaman angst.