DC signals new Aquaman series is coming with surprising protagonists

Aquaman by Dan Mora
Aquaman by Dan Mora (Image credit: DC)

DC's current Lazarus Planet event is serving two functions. In addition to telling a superhero story, it's also pulling double duty setting up continuity and storylines for the new Dawn of DC series to come.

Two of the stories in January 24's Lazarus Planet: We Were Once Gods anthology one-shot special set up the tie-in Lazarus Planet limited series Revenge of the Gods co-starring Wonder Woman and Shazam that DC has already announced. But its lead Aquaman story, 'Hunger Pains' by writer-artist Francis Manapul seems to set up a new Aquaman series DC has not announced that may feature a surprising cast of protagonists along with Arthur Curry and likely his extended family.

In 'Hunger Pains' a group of people on some unidentified Northern coast happen upon three people washed up naked on the shore with the water turned green from Lazarus lava.

Only one of them seems to be still alive as the people take a blond-haired man to a house where they try to care for him, though they strap him to a couch to be safe.

an image from Lazarus Planet: We Were Once Gods #1

an image from Lazarus Planet: We Were Once Gods #1 (Image credit: DC)

It turns out to be a prescient precaution, as the man wakes up very confused, very strong, and doesn't speak English. Breaking out of his straps, he attacks his hosts and his face turns a bit green and scaley, but he also sees a reflection of himself in a window and becomes even more confused, eventually biting and drawing blood from one of the people, and then snatching their dog (seemingly to eat) and fleeing the house.

If the M.O. is starting to sound familiar, Aquaman then shows up in the story's final and explains the man is one of the Trench, introduced during the 2011 DC reboot The New 52 as villains and briefly seen in the Aquaman movie.

The Trench are a long-lost population of Atlanteans who delved deep into the darkest parts of the ocean, evolving into a monstrous, cannibalistic form to survive the depths. Though the Trench have their own king and queen, the entire population seems to follow the orders of whoever holds the mysterious Atlantean artifact known as the Dead King's Sceptre.

The eruption of the Lazarus volcano that is transforming humans and metahumans all around the world (the "Lazarus effect") has 'devolved' people of the Trench back to their original more human Atlantean forms.

Aquaman tells the confused Trench man to let the dog go, as eating him is no longer who he is now, that he's more like Aquaman and the humans.

Then in a final monologue, as other people of the Trench emerge from the ocean (including children) behind him, Aquaman explains that he used to fear them too, but their monstrous actions are just their way of caring for and feeding their families and obscure their true humanity and that he now seems them as his true ancestors. One of the Trench even tries to say the word "hungry."

a page from Lazarus Planet: We Were Once Gods #1

a page from Lazarus Planet: We Were Once Gods #1 (Image credit: DC)

"... and if we can't show them how to share these shores, I'm afraid we'll see what they're truly capable of," says Aquaman ominously, which is followed by the words "To be continued in Dawn of DC."

That sure sounds like the promise of a new Aquaman series with a new direction for Arthur, tasked with helping the refugees of the Trench adapt to life on the surface world and navigate their assimilation into human society while protecting them from humanity who fear them as potential monsters, which they could revert to if he isn't successful.

Now that's just speculation, but as Newsarama has made a point of in the past, DC is a very deliberate publisher and it seems very likely we'll hear about some sort of new Aquaman project in the near future.

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I'm not just the Newsarama founder and editor-in-chief, I'm also a reader. And that reference is just a little bit older than the beginning of my Newsarama journey. I founded what would become the comic book news site in 1996, and except for a brief sojourn at Marvel Comics as its marketing and communications manager in 2003, I've been writing about new comic book titles, creative changes, and occasionally offering my perspective on important industry events and developments for the 25 years since. Despite many changes to Newsarama, my passion for the medium of comic books and the characters makes the last quarter-century (it's crazy to see that in writing) time spent doing what I love most.