assembled by 'rith
So who is this guy, anyway?
(Caveat: For the purposes of this FAQ I've tried to disentangle the S&S take/fanon from the canon, which might vary in certain respects. Grain-of-salt disclaimer.)
Couple of good sources on the 'net for Tempest history and information:
Because Garth's history is generally less well known than the other Titans, here are the highlights.
* His mother, Queen Berra, is exiled from the Atlanean city of Shayeris due to fears that her unborn son would inherit his murdered father's talent for sorcery (not without reason).
* Berra gives birth in the Atlanean city of Poseidonis, where prophesies about the evils of purple-eyed children still hold sway among certain religious groups. Garth is taken from her and left on Mercy Reef to die--much as Orin (Arthur) had been, years previous, due to similar prophesies about blond-haired children.
* Garth spends the next decade or so surviving alone in the ocean's wilds; I postulate that the unseen magic of the sorcerer Atlan has a lot to do with not only how he survived, but kept from going completely feral.
* He is found by Aquaman and becomes his sidekick--although not granted the protections of a ward, much less a son. See Arthur and Garth below for more.
* Garth, now called Aqualad, meets Robin and Kid Flash and soon after becomes one of the founding members of the Teen Titans.
* In Poseidonis he meets Tula, and the two of them quickly fall in love. She is the true love of Garth's life, the single most important person ever for him. Garth irregularly participates in Teen Titans adventures over the years, mainly concerned with Tula and Arthur's demands on his time.
* Garth is 18 when the Crisis occurs. Tula dies in the Crisis, leaving him devastated.
* He joins in Titans adventures a few times, the result of which usually leave him kidnapped by villains (with no rescue from his teammates forthcoming) or comatose.
* In the course of a mission for Arthur and due to a bit of mistaken identity, Garth gets himself tied to a stake while the Sher'Hedeen (mer-sharks) loose some flesh-eating water on him to kill him. One of the Sher'Hedeen, Letifos, tries to interfere, but she is too late and Garth is seemingly devoured. Neither Aquaman nor the Titans (who have disbanded) seem to notice.
* Rather than getting dissolved, Garth is actually sucked into an alternate dimension by Atlan, the immortal (and immoral) sea mage...who happens to be Arthur's father (biological father, not the king from whom Aquaman got his throne). Atlan spends a few years teaching Garth how to be a mage--and a powerful one at that. Garth eventually returns to his native dimension, where only a few months have passed, so he's now he's the eldest of the Titans instead of being one of the youngest. He pops up out of nowhere to save Aquaman and Dolphin. Garth's arrival surprises Arthur, who doesn't seem to have noticed that he was gone, and impresses Dolphin, who thinks he's grown up nicely.
* Garth goes off to explore his past. (This is the four-issue Tempest miniseries.) He goes to the ruins of his parents' castle and runs into both Letifos and the supposedly deceased Tula, who says she got better. Garth's too happy to care about specifics. Letifos tries to warn him of danger, but Tula fights her off. Garth becomes Tempest...with the help of a bedsheet. Frustrated with the girls and himself, Garth throws a bit of a hissy while wrapped in the bedspread (that happens to be a copy of the flag of Shayeris), decides that the shredded comforter actually makes a nice design, and makes it his uniform. He also decides to call himself Tempest. The girls stop fighting long enough to be unimpressed. Sadly, Letifos is right. Tula is still dead. She is one of the minions of Slizzath, an evil wizard and Garth's uncle. Slizzath is on the scene to steal Garth's magical heritage and he is using Tula to interrupt the ritual Garth needs to perform the transfer. Various hijinx occur: Garth stabs himself in the heart (thinking he's magically protected), runs into his mother, who is now the leader of a clan called the Idylists--radical pacifists who would rather be destroyed than fight Slizzath--and ends up defeating Slizzath and his army of undead. The most poignant moment is when Tula realizes that she's part of that zombie army and begs Garth to kill her again. Garth, who never got over Tula's death (in the Crisis) the first time, complies with much anguish.
* Garth hooks up later with Dolphin -- he eventually finds out then that she'd been with Aquaman first -- and, well, Cerdian happened. Dolphin is impatient with Tempest's work with the Titans (he is the team's financier as well as an active member), preferring him to stay home with her and baby and be happy with his role as Prince and Ambassador from Atlantis. After Garth is nearly killed by some pointy-faced bad guys in another dimension, Dolphin issues an ultimatum: quit or she leaves. She does, in fact, leave when Garth stalls. Garth anguishes for a bit, then the Titans series ends and Garth is home in Atlantis with his family. This leads into the post-Obsidian Age goofiness in Atlantis and has Garth and his family under house arrest, Garth sneaking away to find Arthur, and Garth adventuring with Aquaman while trying (in vain) to get Orin of Atlantis to come home and fix things. [You'll note that Garth is constantly fleeing his wife. Discerning readers take this as a sign.]
* Now: Garth is publically known as the Titan, Tempest, and as the Atlantean ambassador. He's about as famous as...any foreign ambassador. How many ambassadors do you know by name? He's not commonly known, but his identity is public, both as ambassador and Titan.
Garth's canon relationships pretty much boil down to Tula, 'Syndi' (a random chick he picked up in New Titans 112), and Dolphin, near as I can tell.
Or, Why do Tempest fans hate this chick?
Dolphin's whole domestication is out of character. Her personal history is completely at odds with the way she was presented in the issues where she and Garth hooked up, and the latter Titans era. Dolphins are not monogamous creatures. Dolphin's an adventurer in her own right and...well...aptly named. Not much for settling down or serious things. The whole idea that she'd suddenly crave wifedom, even in light of being pregnant, was a little off. That Garth, now Tempest, would ask anyway is not so odd. That she'd accept is.
To clear up one common misconception: Garth did *not* know she had previously dated Arthur when they got together.
What's this about Aquaman mistreating Garth? Question 9 of the Tempest FAQ gives the historical perspective.
IMO, it boils down to a great deal of emotional neglect and a measure of inadvertent physically rough treatment. There was no sexual abuse whatsoever. Arthur is not a child molester. (And this is only specifically noted in this FAQ because I've seen the idea in other fics, and want to make it very clear that is not the case in canon.)
For all of Arthur's faults, he is still a hero. One who had no idea how to deal with a child, but a hero nonetheless.
Atlantis: The great undersea kingdom, a former continent, made up of a bunch of city-states such as Poseidonis (the main city, where Arthur rules), Tritonis (where the mer-people such as Lori Lemaris live), Shayeris (formerly Crastinus, in the Hidden Valley--destroyed by Slizzath and since rebuilt), Thierna na Oge, and Hy-Brasil, among others. The city of Poseidonis is commonly referred to as "Atlantis" in and of itself by surface-dwellers who don't know better.
So what's Shayeris, anyway? As in "Garth of...". As noted above, it's the city his parents came from and the source of his mystical heritage. His father was a king, so that makes Garth....
Is Garth a Prince? Yes. Actually, technically, he's a King. Garth is heir to the throne of Shayeris. He's refused to take the throne and the city is currently ruled by a regent.
Garth faced a lot of prejudice when Arthur brought him to Atlantis, due to his purple eyes. The religious faction of Shalakites, in particular, would just as soon have seen him exiled again.
Most of the rest of the Atlanteans have come to know Garth as Arthur's associate, under his protection to begin with and certainly capable of protecting himself now. Some of their attitudes toward him are possibly warmer than Garth himself would believe. Along with Arthur, he's helped save the city any number of times, and Arthur has left the city in his care when he was absent.
Garth does not have any contact with Shayeris at the moment. He may not have the luxury of ignoring his heritage forever.
Canon has been unkind to Garth: either he's powerless, or he's building uncontrolled magical gates that send Atlantis spinning lost through time. Blah. Darkseid used him as a channel to save the world during Our Worlds at War (OWAW), which was nice but...odd.
My worst fear is to see him become mage ex machina, with a spell for every occasion.My take:
* The magical training he received from Atlan mainly taught him to access his elemental powers and manifest beams of pure magical force from his eyes, not to cast spells. Atlan *wants* him to come back for proper spellcasting training. At the moment, Garth isn't interested. (And I would like to point out that super-strength and endurance + elemental powers + magical optic blasts make him Really Freaking Powerful already.)
* He has cast a gate spell. Once, in the Tempest mini, from a scroll. This is *not* something he can do at will. However, he may have an affinity for such magic, which may be what Darkseid tapped in OWAW.
The following information comes from the back pages of the Tempest miniseries, and many thanks to Phil Jimenez for being such an ubergeek. :)
* Normal Atlantean traits: Ability to breathe water, super-strength (8 tons), and great stamina, as a result of the ocean pressures. Limited telepathy, primarily with other Atlanteans. [Sidebar: I interpet Atlantean telepathy as "weak," meaning that they can only send and receive to other telepaths.]
"His body tissues are filled with particular liquids and dissolved gases that are compressed similarly to the surrounding seawater. Garth's internal fluids, therefore, push outward as forcefully as the ocean presses in. Garth is then able to descend to a maximum depth of 566 fathoms (3,400 feet). His body contains a particular fluid that permits him to adjust his buoyancy at varying depths, allowing him to ascend and descend in bodies of water with relative ease and speed. ...Garth's body is particularly dense, making him highly resistant to physical injury.
"Garth's blood stream is filled with an amino acid similar to glycoprotein that keeps his body fluids liquid in severe, subfreezing ocean depths. The glycoprotein lowers the freezing point of his body fluids by preventing the formation of ice crystals in his body and preventing cellular damage. Garth's body naturally adjusts its rate of production of glycoprotein depending on the depth of the water he's swimming in and its temperature. Normally, Garth possesses a high, relatively stable body temperature created by a circulatory system that recirculates warm venous blood, which minimizes heat loss. This system permits his body to generate the heat his muscles require to summon the power he needs to swim at such high speeds; however, descending to great depths greatly impairs his ability to move and swim quickly, because his body's circulatory system shuts down its special recycling system so his body's energies can be directed toward the creation of glycoprotein, which prevents his body fluids from freezing and solidifying."
* Can swim up to 97.75 knots/hour (85 mph) toward the surface; about 30 minutes at top speed before needing to rest.
"Tempest's senses have been adapted for ocean living as well as landgoing.
"The corneas in Tempest's eyes are able to refract light at the same angle of the water surrounding him, allowing him to see clearly in salt water. A nearly clear membrane covers his eyes when he is on dry land, reflecting the light differently and allowing him a degree of vision underwater. Underwater, Tempest has excellent close-range vision; however, his visual acuity and ability to focus on distant objects drops dramatically at a distance of about 100 feet. His range and ability to focus is stronger on dry land. Like other Atlanteans, Tempest is affected by the amount of light that filters down to the ocean floor. While Tempest's light-sensitive eyes can see particularly well in dim light, they are unable to detect any light below 1,000 feet and he therefore has to use his other senses to navigate at such depths. Tempest is partially colorblind. He can see the colors red, yellow, and orange, but green, black, and blue are almost indistinguishable to him."
"Tempest is particularly sensitive to sound. His sense of hearing would allow him to hear someone speaking to him underwater at a depth of 2 fathoms (12 feet) almost 1,000 feet away. The two sets of semicircular canals in each of his ears are extremely important to Tempest's sense of balance and orientation (even more than a land-dwelling human) and they are helpful for sensing changes in the speed and direction that he swims. On dry land, Tempest's hearing is affected by the speed at which sound travels (sound travels approximately four times faster underwater). Because of this, Tempest has on land a difficult time discerning the location from which a sound has traveled and reached his ears. For example, he might have a troublesome time moving out of the way of a speeding car he couldn't see (behind him, perhaps), because he would not be able to immediately discern its location in relation to him (it would sound as if the care was coming from all directions at once). This also affects Tempest's brain's ability to process and interpret various sorts of sounds, including those he's heard before. Thus, while on dry land, Tempest depends heavily on his sense of sight to help his brain translate audible information."
"Tempest's sense of smell is acute. The sensory cells lining the olfactory plates in his nose are extremely sensitive to odors dissolved in water. Tempest can smell particular odors as far as 1,000 feet away at depths of 4 fathoms (24 feet). His sense of smell on dry land is even more acute, enabling him to trace distinctly powerful odors at distances of over 2,200 feet. Tempest would be able to distinguish between two people 100 feet behind him who he could not see simply by their odor." [Sidebar: There's untapped potential: Garth as bloodhound. :D ]
"Nerve endings in Tempest's taste buds allow him to sense sweet, sour, salty, and bitter as well as fatty and amino acids. Thus, Tempest would be able to discern the ingredients of food or drink he's tasted and determine minute differences between brands, recipes, and foodstuffs that are slightly spoiled or have been tampered with." [Sidebar: More untapped potential: Garth as sommelier or poison-detector.]
Nothing about sense of touch, but I assume as human normal.
"Tempest extracts oxygen from the water through special sieve-like pores in his skin. The pores act as minute gills, full of blood capillaries in membranes so tiny that blood flowing through them extracts oxygen from water passing over the pores.
"Tempest is amphibious. While he primarily dwells in the ocean depths, Tempest can survive on dry land for approximately one hour before needing a steady supply of water to cross his gills and allow him to breathe. When on land, Tempest breathes by extracting oxygen from inhaled air with vestigial lungs in his thorax. After about one hour on dry land Tempest's lungs become unable to filer out the waste carbon dioxide and he begins to suffocate. Rainy weather helps." [Sidebar: in other words, this is the base state for all Atlanteans. Garth can extend the 'time limit' through his other mystical abilities; see below. Arthur (Aquaman) can clearly survive longer than the one-hour time limit despite having no mystical abilities; whereas once this could be attributed to his hybrid status [Atlantean mother/human father], the recent revelation that his father was actually the ancient Atlantean wizard Atlan eliminates that theory. It may be postulated that Atlan, being closer to the original Atlantean human gene pool, can survive out of water longer like his human forebears and therefore passed this tolerance on to his son.]
* Mystical powers--innate
"Tempest's other powers are the result of the magic energies of his sorcerous ancestors mixing directly with their genetic line*; hence, unlike his forebears, Tempest was born with the ability to manifest many of his magic-based powers. The powers he possesses beyond the normal adaptations his body has made to survive the ocean depths are part of his genetic makeup. [*Sidebar: That's a tad confusing. Basically, his father Thar was a practicing sorcerer; he studied for three years subjective time with the wizard Atlan, and in the course of the Tempest mini Garth absorbed the powers of a mystical energy pool. The combination of these factors , I think, released his innate magical abilities as below and also gave him the potential for true spellcasting.]
-- project purple force blasts from his eyes
-- the ability to generate areas of extreme heat or cold
"He is able to convert water into ice by psionically removing enough heat from a particular area of water that it reaches the freezing point. More adept at using his cold powers than his heat powers, he can, for example, create simple structures like walls or spikes with the ice, and his control over his frozen creations is more exact. He has even manifested an ice 'prison' composed of simple bars and walls, strong enough to hold a normal Atlantean. As with his heat-manipulating abilities, however, Tempest cannot use his powers beyond a range of about 60 feet."
-- the psionic ability to manipulate water currents
"Now that he has absorbed the energies of his ancestral energy pool, Tempest possesses limited magical abilities which can be greatly expanded with focused practice and use. Chief among these current abilities is a magic 'sense'; Tempest can detect magical energies and their manipulation in an unspecified but small area around him. He possesses a postcognitive ability, which allows him to sense ambient magical energies and spells up to seven hours after they've been cast.
"Tempest possesses the potential to use his magical energies for a variety of effects including interpersonal and broadcast telepathy, astral projection, dimensional travel, limited telekinesis, demonic summoning, and most important, the ability to communicate directly with the primordial energies of Earth's oceans, rivers, and seas--the 'spiritual essence' of the planet itself--including their elemental protector, Naiad." [Sidebar: The key word here is potential. Neither in canon nor in fanfiction would I like to see Garth become mage ex machina. All of these abilities would require focused training time.]
Essential: The Tempest four-issue miniseries (and its lead-in, Showcase '96 #1, "The Final Aqualad Story") by Phil Jimenez, HIGHLY recommended as the best (and among the only) source for Good Garth in canon.
Other: You take your chances. Wolfman didn't use him much in the classic era (although try Tales of the Teen Titans #45-47 for a spotlight, particular on Aquagirl). See Teen Titans #12-16 (Jurgens run) for the first time Tempest showed up in his new costume. "The Technis Imperative" (JLA/Titans) was a nice spotlight on all of the founding Titans. Grant Morrison made use of Tempest's abilities in DC One Million. Phil Jimenez made him the linchpin of the fate of the universe in OWAW--but you had to be reading Wonder Woman to see it. And it's not his fault that Atlantis got thrown back in time for the Obsidian Age storyline in JLA--his spell was co-opted by a more powerful sorcerer.