The Act of Disenthralling Ourselves: Exclusive Preview of 'Aquaman and the Others'
A comicbook couldn’t reflect the relevance of Lincoln’s thoughts, could it?
“The dogmas of the quiet past,” Abraham Lincoln says, “are inadequate to the stormy present.” And by the end of the quote, it’s hard to see how any other quote can effectively grapple with the full weight of what’s being attempted in the pages of Aquaman and the Others.
Aquaman and the Others #6 releases this Wednesday and in a crucial scene appears early in the book—the Others, as a group, meeting the new Vostok-X. The is laced with the iconographic and metonymic struggles that make Aquaman and the Others such a rich text; reliance on technology despite failing to understand the mechanism by which said tech functions, the willing choice to withdraw to the margins of society, service to ideals that ends in a neo-Marxist alienation, and from the original Matrix, how knowing the path is not the same as walking the path.
In an almost throwaway line, huntress and all-round warrior goddess Ya’Warra suggests, “Ask Sayeh, she knows what awaits us…” But in a sense, and due in no small part to the fact that the line is so beautifully evocative of the old pulp traditions of storytelling, so do we. We know exactly what must happen next for the characters. Because, after a lifetime of being exposed to it, we’ve imbibed fully the pulp tradition.
But despite Sayeh knowing “what awaits us,” and Ya’Warra pointing this out to team members who’re already clear on exactly that, despite even Vostok-X’s “shadows of a memory” from his predecessor, the pages of Aquaman and the Others are laced with a deep irony that defeats our subconscious inclination to commodify this comicbook as a product of the nostalgia economy. (You only need read the original “The Others” storyarc in Aquaman #7-13 or the first Aquaman Annual or indeed, the first five issues of this series, to immerse yourself fully in how postmodernly ironic Aquaman and the Others’ take on lost Atlantean artifacts and the entire pulp tradition is.)
Read enough of Aquaman and the Others and you’ll discover characters and entire storylines launched on the back of the old pulp tradition, and yet at the same time, desperately trying to break the spell that this old tradition can be adopted wholesale with no need for negotiating a place in a radically changed technocultural landscape.
Read Aquaman and the Others and you’ll quickly come to realize two things. One, that Aquaman and the Others really is the cutting edge of the New 52 experiment, to see if the emotional cores of these characters and the stories of their struggles (what’s sometimes called their “high concept”) can really be played out again, right from the start, in the world of our newer cultural aesthetic. And two, that the task of confronting the miserable and deathly specter of the nostalgia economy can only fully be encompassed by something Lincoln said:
The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise to the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.
Please enjoy our exclusive preview of Aquaman and the Others #6.