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Interview: Tony Bedard Talks Ocean Master

During Villains Month, writer Tony Bedard will take over one of Aquaman's villains books, featuring Arthur's brother, Orm.

Aquaman's brother, Orm AKA Ocean Master has been imprisoned at Belle Reve after he, and the Atlantian army, was tricked into attacking the surface world. It's been a few months, but Orm is somehow on the loose this September in his own Villains Month book. Writer Tony Bedard answered some of our burning questions

Comic Vine: Orm has spent quite a bit of time locked away in Belle Reve. When he gets out, will he focus right on Aquaman, taking back the throne, or revenge on everyone else that was involved in his imprisonment?

Tony Bedard: His first item of business is just getting back to the sea. He's been landlocked since they threw him in jail, and that's a fate worse than death for an Atlantean. So when the big jailbreak happens, all the other escapees are out to join their liberators, or just raise hell. But Orm has one simple goal: get back to the water. And what happens on the way is anything but simple.

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CV: What is this particular issue about?

TB: Orm didn't know much about the "surface world" before mounting his strike on the Eastern Seaboard, and frankly he didn't care. Now he's spent a few months here and it's worse than he ever imagined. Not just being locked up in jail, but the air, the food, the whole place reeks of chemicals and pollution. He sees how cruel humans are to each other, and how they just accept that cruelty as normal. But Atlantean culture isn't like that, and he just sees us as savages. But on his way back home his contempt for humans is put to the test. He may be Aquaman's enemy, but he's not a purely evil person. In fact, he has pretty good reasons to hate Aquaman. So can he look the other way as innocents are dying all around him in a global crime spree? Or will his inner nobility compel him to take action? Does he really not care if humans live or die? Or is there a spark of humanity within him?

CV: What has changed about Orm since the last time we've seen him?

TB: He's been humbled by his time in jail, by the way he was duped into attacking the surface world, by the way Aquaman took the throne from him and cast him aside. Now he's just sitting in prison, awaiting his war crimes trial, fully expecting the death penalty. He's a shell of the man he was. Then comes the opportunity for freedom, and suddenly he has a chance to go home, maybe reclaim his kingdom. But is he still the same man who was so sure of himself when he sat on the throne? What I love about Ocean Master in the New 52 is that Geoff really made him a morally gray character. He's not a true villain. In fact, I pretty much agree with his beef against Aquaman. But he's just never cared if a surface worlder lives or dies. Now, we see if he's changed at all -- if he's still hard-hearted towards humans, or if he's learned to value them at all.

CV: What makes Ocean Master a great villain?

TB: It's that morally gray aspect, the sort of thing you see with Sinestro, Magneto or Dr Doom. They both consider themselves heroes in their own way. So does Ocean Master. He only took the throne so he could help "free" his half-brother Aquaman from the surface world. His devotion to Atlantis is very real and altruistic in its own way. I actually think most Atlanteans would rather have him back on the throne. So it's the fact that you can totally relate to his motivation and even see Orm's nobility shining through that makes him a compelling character. He'd be a lot less interesting if he was just flat-out evil.

CV: Will we see appearances from supporting characters such as Murk, Scavenger, or Swatt?

TB: We see Scavenger show up in the BLACK MANTA issue, but the OCEAN MASTER story is focused solely on Orm and his troubled journey home. There are a couple of other super-inmates from Belle Reve with whom he has run-ins, but no marquee villains. So while the Black Manta story deals more directly with the main story of FOREVER EVIL, the Ocean Master story is more of a character study, and having written both issues with Geoff Johns, I've feel like I got to have my cake and eat it, too!

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CV: Where are Aquaman and Mera during all of this?

TB: I am not at liberty to disclose that. Don't want to spoil anything for the FOREVER EVIL series. What I can say is that when I read Geoff's script for FOREVER EVIL #1, my head pretty much exploded! There is stuff going on in that series that you wouldn't believe!

CV: There quite a few stand-out villains within this new Aquaman series (The Trench, Orm, Black Manta, The Dead King). Who do you think is Aquaman's most menacing foe and why?

TB: I'm gonna have to go with Black Manta. The sheer intensity of his hatred for Aquaman and the lengths he'll go to for vengeance cannot be underestimated. Plus, I've had a man-crush on Black Manta ever since I first saw him in the old Aquaman cartoon and on Superfriends. He just looks so cool, and on the cartoon his voice was Darth Vader cool. I actually have action figures of both Manta and Ocean Master on my desk as I write this (I've been a big Aquaman fan for years and I couldn't be happier that he's finally having his moment in the sun).

CV: What are you most excited for, without spoiling anything obviously, about this issue?

TB: I'm excited to team up with Geoff for this tale. He's great to collaborate with and his storytelling instincts are impeccable. We gave Orm some truly twisted moments where you see that his version of doing the right thing is utterly alien to us, and yet...he really is trying to do the right thing! He's both dangerous and admirable at the same time. It's a fascinating mix. And I'm also excited about the amazing artwork Geraldo Borges is turning in. From jaw-dropping scenes of Ocean Master leading the armies of Atlantis to heart-wrenching scenes of Orm walking through a surface world gone mad, Geraldo really sells the grandeur and the emotional core of this story. Yeah, Aquaman and his villains have all finally become A-listers, and I'm giddy that I have a chance to contribute to this moment in my favorite hero's history.

Thanks to Tony Bedard for taking the time to answer some of our questions and make sure you guys check out AQUAMAN #23.2 OCEAN MASTER when it hits store shelves on September 25th!