Warning: SPOILERS through Aquaman #39
The latest chapter of the Sink Atlantis storyline has seen Aquaman granted permission to establish an Atlantean version of the Suicide Squad in order to counter the American Task Force X's effort to destroy his nation. This is not the first time Arthur Curry has worked alongside the likes of King Shark for a noble cause, but it is the first time it has happened with the official sanction of the Atlantean government.
The conflict between Aquaman and Task Force X is only the latest skirmish in a long shadow war between the Atlantean and American governments in the pages of Aquaman. The past two years have seen The United States attack Atlantis in response to the actions of an Atlantean separatist group called The Deluge and an attack organized by Black Manta and the terrorist group NEMO that was meant to look like a preemptive strike launched from Atlantis. A rogue element of the US government also attempted to assassinate Arthur Curry using a group called the Aquamanrines - an elite team of USMC troops genetically-altered to survive underwater.
After the Atlantis civil war and with the sunken city-state now back on the surface of DC's Earth thanks to the breaking of the curse that originally sank it, these same hawkish elements within the American government felt now was the perfect time to end the threat of Atlantis once and for all.
Enter Amanda Waller and Task Force X, who are pressured to take a hand in things by Admiral Meddinghouse - the man responsible for creating the Aquamarines. With the threat of her own dirty laundry being aired if she doesn't cooperate, Waller sends a team to deliver an explosive payload that should safely sink Atlantis to its former position. The team soon realizes, just before they are discovered by Arthur Curry and the security surrounding Queen Mera's coronation ceremony, that their payload is a magically-enhanced nuclear bomb that will destroy Atlantis outright rather than merely sinking it.
Ironically, it's Harley Quinn and Deadshot - the two members of the Suicide Squad who tried to back out of the mission when they realized what they were holding - who are captured by Aquaman and imprisoned, while the rest of the team retreats into the lowest depths of Atlantis. Recognizing Harley and Deadshot from the Justice League vs Suicide Squad event, Aquaman describes the group to Queen Mera and the Catch-22 situation Atlantis is in. They know the Suicide Squad is run by the American government, but there's a reason they use known super-villains for the program - plausible deniability. By retaliating against the United States for the actions of Task Force X, it will frame Atlantis as the violent threat Admiral Meddinghouse and his allies want them to be and turn the rest of the surface world against them.
With no other options available to her, Mera grants Arthur's request to contact King Shark - a crime-boss who runs the lowest sections of Atlantis where the Suicide Squad is hiding - and the other criminals who lent Aquaman their support during the civil war. Distasteful as they may be, they were ultimately loyal to The Crown of Atlantis when it counted and they know the foundations of Atlantis better than anyone. It remains to be seen if this new Atlantean Suicide Squad will be able to counter their surface-dwelling counterpart, but the battle between them is sure to be an exciting one.
Aquaman #39 is now available from DC Comics.