For Your Consideration: DC’s Aquaman: The Atlantis Chronicles Deluxe Edition

Robert Greenberger

Robert Greenberger


by Robert Greenberger

Atlantis!

In the mid-1980s, DC Comics was riding pretty high. We had a series of major sales and critical successes showing a breadth the company had not enjoyed in some time. As a result, Publisher Jenette Kahn was pretty much open to anything editors or creators were passionate about.

Sitting at my desk, I was pondering post-Crisis elements of the new DC Universe that deserved exploration. It was not that long ago that Len Wein formally tied the Atlantis seen in the Lori Lemaris adventures and the Atlantis where Aquaman ruled in his Who’s Who entry. Using Arion’s Atlantis of 45,000 years earlier as a starting point, he posited them as twin domed cities. Both developed serums to allow the inhabitants of the sunken cities to breathe underwater but Tritonis’ people had an unexpected reaction: developing tails, making them mer-people.

We also had the mystery of why baby Aquaman was left abandoned to be found and raised by lighthouse keeper Arthur Curry, the purple-eyed curse we knew afflicted Aqualad, and a few other questions. There had to be a story in it.

Not just a story, but a sweeping, multigenerational epic akin to the John Jakes books that were so popular just a few years earlier.

Aquaman: The Atlantis Chronicles Deluxe Edition HC

Aquaman: The Atlantis Chronicles Deluxe Edition HC


Now that I had a notion, I needed creators. Admittedly, I approached the team of Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway first, but they were busy trying to launch their Hollywood careers so eventually passed. Since I saw this as something other than a pure superhero story, I next turned to Peter David, who was already writing Star Trek for me and had sold several prose works. He jumped at the chance and began doing his homework.

I then began thinking about art. At that time, the great Spanish artist Esteban Maroto was completing his work on Amethyst and was coming free. Knowing his work from the Warren magazines from the previous decade and seeing his handling of the characters for Karen Berger, I knew he was the right man for the task. He happily accepted.

Atlantis Chronicles #1

Atlantis Chronicles #1


What I began to call Atlantis! was retitled The Atlantis Chronicles and work was underway. Marketing wasn’t sure they could sell a maxiseries lacking in recognizable costumed champions of justice so we negotiated with them settling for seven 48-page issues. Better, I also got them to make the rare commitment to not only advertise the book at launch but between issues four and five, something unheard of at the time.

Peter’s scripts rolled in and were fired off to Spain, where a neighbor or family member did the translations and Esteban lit a fresh cigarette and got to work. Every six or seven weeks, I received a package with the complete art and all work stopped as I marveled at the detail. To keep the book looking unique, I recruited Gaspar Saladino for the lettering and he brought an artistry to the pages that complemented Esteban’s art.

New to DC colorist Erick Kachelhofer completed the team. He was hired for our new in-house coloring department so he’d work on the color design and separations just down the hall, where I could frequently peek over his shoulder.

Atlantis Chronicles #5

Atlantis Chronicles #5


When we finally came out in 1990, the book was acclaimed and to my pleasure, it has continued to receive fond looks back on various blogs. The story content proved influential as it informed all Aquaman stories that followed and remains a part of the DC firmament (less so during Rebirth but you can’t have everything).

All along, I argued the series should be collected for the new bookstore distribution channel. It was a fantasy that could appeal to non-superhero readers. I even felt it belonged as an entry in the Science Fiction Book Club. Sadly, the appeals fell on deaf ears and over time, it became the butt of jokes at the semi-annual collected editions meetings. Marketing would periodically poll retailers and the numbers never supported my assertion.

Then I left DC and figured the book would never get collected. Thankfully, Jason Momoa solved that conundrum. With Aquaman now shooting, DC is finally collecting this epic fantasy and Aquaman: The Atlantis Chronicles will become a reality this fall. I’ve written its introduction and couldn’t be more delighted for the creators that this will be real.

Atlantis Chronicles #7

Atlantis Chronicles #7


Peter has often listed this as among the works he is proudest of and as an editor, it certainly is a highlight in my tenure. I am very pleased you will finally have a chance to see it for yourselves.

Purchase

Aquaman: The Atlantis Chronicles Deluxe Edition HC

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