The Others are unknown in the any DCU continuity. Given the depth of Superman’s, Jordan’s and Wayne’s history, it was brilliant that Johns chose this path for Aquaman. Aquaman is by no means like any other hero – the closest that comes to mind would be T’Challa but even then there is a great distinction between them. The introduction of The Others allows readers of any era to learn more about this constantly sidelined hero and adds another layer to the Atlantean mythology.
Aside from the introduction of The Others, the arc shows us more of Arthur’s history. By any standards, a story like that wouldn’t intrigue me given the typical progression that Johns opted to take. However, the introduction of Dr Shin was able to turn this mundane history into one of the most compelling one. Dr Shin is hardly an exceptional character and most other series would be unable to use him the way that Aquaman is able to. That said, throughout the arc, not only does he fuel intensity but his character’s progression ensures that he could be one of the most impactful characters as this series progresses.
The highlight of this arc is the reunification of The Others as well as the establishment of their history. Much like the Justice League, The Others were formed by necessity and not by choice but unlike the aforementioned, they have had a very rough history and have no personal ties to each other. In this 7-book arc, Johns was able to establish their individual personalities, powers and interpersonal relationships with the team seamlessly weaving the backstories of each of them in the arc. What was amazing was how the arc portrays that our heroes aren’t perfect in the way Arthur deals with loss like most humans would. This allows him to differentiate him from other heroes with similar backstories like Kal-el.
Black Manta makes his New 52 debut in this arc as well. Not only is his story and motivation perfectly told, his presence throughout the arc was omnipresent despite him having little actual screen time. This is particularly interesting as it showed how formidable Manta is and like ‘Voldemort’, the mere thought of his name warrants caution (albeit to a lesser extent). While the final confrontation could be met with some skepticism, the shear intensity of the artwork and writing is enough to make readers overlook the minor flaws. In fact, the unfortunate sorrowful death of Vostok was in itself sufficient to support the final battle.
All in all, it is a phenomenal arc and a definite must read especially for someone who has never read much of Aquaman.