WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Aquaman: Deep Dives #1, by Steve Orlando, Daniel Sampere, Juan Albarran, Adriano Lucas, and Wes Abbott, on sale now.
Aancient weapons are a dime a dozen in the DC Universe. These mystical MacGuffins almost always carry an un-explainable power capable of turning someone into a demi-god, granting wishes or giving them a nice power boost. And in Aquaman: Deep Dives #1, Black manta attempts to steal the DC Universe’s newest ancient artifact, the Sporting Snare, with disastrous results.
While little is revealed about its creators and its history, this Snare is the Mermazons’ holy weapon, and it was sitting in a museum of Amazonian artifacts when Black Manta tried to steal it.
In the issue, Aquaman put the Snare among Themysciran artifacts under a false name as a way to hide the weapon in plain sight.
Bearing an uncanny resemblance to a certain prosthetic appendage held by Arthur Curry from the ’90s into the early ’00s, the Sporting Snare holds an unmistakable harpoon-like design. A pointed hook/blade attached to a thick rope of indeterminate length makes this a great hunting weapon for submerged quarry (its original intent). Crafted with an alloy resembling gold, it’s sharp enough to pierce the armor and skin of Aquaman, which, while not impossible, is no easy task.
The “Tether of Amphitrite” — as it’s labeled — sits behind a glass case and is sought after by Black Manta, who violently breaks into the museum in order to obtain it. He’s stopped mid-robbery by Aquaman, who battles him as Manta spouts his usual Inigo Montoya-esque dialogue about attacking Aquaman to avenge his father. After he manages to knock Aquaman over and grab the artifact, he manages to stab Aquaman with it. However, the hero simply smiles as a shock travels through the weapon itself and incapacitates Manta.
As it turns out, the Sporting Snare was a gift from the Greek deity Pallas to the Mermazons, a race of trident wielding women who lived under the sea. It was blessed as a hunting weapon, enchanted to always draw blood from those who were targeted with it. However, this double-edged weapon also came with a curse, dooming anyone who used it for power to a never-ending personal famine.
With his foe incapacitated, Aquaman returns the Sporting Snare to the ancestral home of the Mermazons, the people who originally created it.
While the Mermazons haven’t appeared or been mentioned in the DC Universe before now, they have a deep history that stretches all the way back to the ’40s. Originally, the Mermazons were a race of subsurface warrior women who fought monsters and allied themselves with the Red Torpedo, Quality Comics’ deep-sea hero. While they haven’t been seen in decades, Quality’s heroes were sold to DC years ago, and this marks their introduction into the DC Universe.
While the Sporting Snare is left safely with the ruins of their kingdom, Black Manta seemingly now suffers a unique condition, a never-ending hunger that almost serves as the physical embodiment of his endless lust for vengeance with little regard to reason or truth. While Aquaman leaving the Snare with the remains of the Mermazons is a symbolic gesture of goodwill, it could put the Snare exactly where Black Manta could find it to end his hunger once and for all.
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Aquaman just stole a powerful ancient artifact from a long-forgotten group that just completely changed Black Manta's life forever.