WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Aquaman: Deep Dives #2, by Michael Grey, Aaron Lopresti, Matt Ryan, Hi-Fi and Wes Abbott, available now.
As the King of Atlantis and ruler of the seven seas, Aquaman has always dedicated his life to the protection of his maritime environment, especially from reckless damage and rampant pollution caused by the surface world. And, in the latest issue to the digital-first series Aquaman: Deep Dives by Michael Grey, Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan, he finds new associates to continue his crusade to defend the oceanic ecosystem by any means necessary.
In Aquaman: Deep Dives #2, he partners, up with a reimagined version of a team that was first introduced during the Silver Age: the Sea Devils.
Created by Robert Kanigher and Russ Heath in 1960’s Showcase #27, the Sea Devils were a team of underwater adventurers in the style of contemporary television series like Sea Hunt and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea which were popular at the time. While lacking powers themselves, the team would face strange and fantastical sights and dangers from the unexplored ocean depths in addition to nefarious figures they encountered on the high seas. The team would receive their own starring title which ran for 35 issues from 1961 to 1967.
The classic core team consists of leader Dane Dorrance, his girlfriend Judy Walton, her little brother Nicky Walton and Biff Bailey. Given their mutual setting, the team would partner up with Aquaman on multiple occasions, including joining with an alternate universe incarnation of Arthur Curry to battle Ocean Master during Final Crisis. After Infinite Crisis, the team was reimagined from being primarily explorers to a more aggressively militant group dedicated to protecting the environment. Following the DC Universe relaunch with the New 52, the Sea Devils’ actions would become even more aggressive, bordering on outright ecoterrorism to protect the oceans from corporate and government pollution at all costs.
In the latest issue of Deep Dives, Aquaman discovers deadly chemical pollution being dumped into the oceans that is mutating the local wildlife. Arthur tracks down the corporate culprits dumping the chemical barrels from their tanker only to find that the Sea Devils have beaten him to it and were already caught in the middle of a deadly firefight against the ship’s crew. Shocked by how openly the team appears to employ lethal force, Aquaman convinces them to stop the corrupt, corporate malfeasance without resorting to killing, with the superhero and his old friends subduing their opponents in short order.
Because of their actions in violently attacking corporate vessels without any sort of jurisdiction, the Sea Devils now find themselves wanted by international law. Fortunately, Aquaman decides to officially make the team diplomatic agents of Atlantis, so long as they continue not to exercise lethal force as they keep the seas clean. While initially considering their own autonomy, Judy reminds Dance that there is no better offer available as the Sea Devils would be granted a degree of diplomatic immunity due to their official connection to Atlantis leading him to agree to Aquaman’s terms.
The Sea Devils have been a paramilitary group for some time instead of their Silver Age, deep-sea adventurer roots. But in this series’ continuity, the team works under the explicit supervision of Atlantis, enjoying diplomatic immunity while ensuring the oceans are free of unscrupulous environmental actions by corporations and world governments. And while the team still looks to use its combat training and weaponry to enforce its eco-friendly agenda around the globe, now they will at least do so without being willing to take human life as an extension of Atlantis and Aquaman.
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Aquaman gives a Silver Age team of DC heroes some Atlantean protection to help them carry out their violent new mission.