The following contains spoilers for Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 17, “Leviathan Wakes,” available now on HBO Max.
In young justice, one of the most intriguing journeys was that of Aquaman. King Orin accepted his inheritance, relinquishing his identity as Arthur Curry, before handing over the mantle to Kaldur. The latter accepted Aqualad’s promotion, as it meant his king could focus more on Atlantis than the Justice League, as well as Mera and her son.
Additionally, as Aquaman, Kaldur was able to lead the League, which in itself was a reward for his insight and ability on the field. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman had always been in awe of him, even as teenagers, so Kaldur’s background and overall succession seemed organic to the series. But, Ghosts just flipped the Aquaman dynamic in a massive way, officially knocking out Kaldur, while also showcasing two new Aquamen.
Kaldur’s decision to take temporary leave came after leading an expedition to find Arion’s crown in Xebel. Little did he know, it revealed the new Arion as a false homecoming, which left Atlantis searching for a new king once again. All this drama and the realization that no matter what, he would always be confined to a life of war and politics had Kaldur contemplative – and more so, vulnerable in a way he never openly was.
Kaldur informed his liege that he was stepping down for a bit, embracing Wyynde and making it clear that it was time he put their love first. Orin was happy because Kaldur never took time off – something Wyynde begged him to do. Wyynde could tell Kaldur was mentally fractured after losing so many teammates, like Superboy, so he needed a break. It was also a very endearing moment for LGBTQ fans, proving that the show is serious about bringing those relationships to the forefront in a very relevant way. It added humanity and nuance in a way no one had ever predicted, proving that despite his cold demeanor, Kaldur had a heart, which left Wyynde grateful for this new chapter in their love.
As for replacements, well, Orin accepted that he would never be the true king of Atlantis. As a half-breed and son of Tom Curry on the surface, the underwater kingdoms wouldn’t trust him as much. This is why, despite being the son of Queen Atlanna, they were all eager to vote for Arion, thinking that Orin would be a hybrid and not someone purebred who could foster true unity.
This led to Orin abdicating the throne and resuming the role of Aquaman, hoping to find meaning and direction. He was simply tired of being a member of the royal family, so it will be interesting to see how he fits into the League hierarchy and what his diplomatic role will be with Atlantis.
Orin also granted the mantle to Lagoon Boy for aiding Kaldur as Atlantis’ guardian. La’gaan was a bit of a temper, especially after Miss Martian dumped him for Superboy, but in recent years, after acquiring a family of his own, La’gaan has become an even more exemplary champion of Atlantis. He’s always proven himself with Young Justice, so Orin thinks it’s time for him to be recognized for all his service. Kaldur also fully endorsed it, eager to see the next chapter unfold for both heroes while he takes his respite. Fans are curious to see how Orin will fare in his old job, how La’gaan will adjust to greater responsibilities, and ultimately whether Kaldur will take up arms again.
Find out how the new Aquamen are doing with new episodes of Young Justice: Phantoms Thursdays on HBO Max.
Young Justice: why each episode has the number “16”
About the Author