So I’m a big fan of Spooky Altean thoughts and here’s a thing that just occurred to me:
The mermaid planet basically confirms in VLD’s verse that creatures from human mythology actually exist and are out there, just, they’re aliens.
So let’s look at Alteans a moment.
They’re very similar to humans, physically- albeit they average smaller than us. They’re very long-lived, have pointed ears, and the ones we’ve seen are all very pretty- like basically all it took was Coran with a ponytail and half the fandom was charmed by him.
They also have significant magical power and are described as a highly diplomatic species.
Proposed theory: Alteans are the Fair Folk. They chilled out significantly in the process of becoming a spacefaring empire but truth, bargain, and agreements are still very important to them.
The plot in the comic with Coran’s fake hostage situation involved a deal with very steep interest rates- which is classic fae lore. Usually it’s the normal person indebted to the fair folk but there’s also stories of people outfoxing or capturing a fairy and getting massive riches out of it.
Consider how all Alteans, seemingly, can make themselves look almost like any other species they want to- but always come across just a little bit off.
Consider how Haggar is received by the empire. There’s this interesting thing about who uses Haggar’s name, and who doesn’t. With the exception of Zarkon and the Druids, most of the empire refers to Haggar obliquely as “the witch.” And it’s very likely “Haggar” is not her original name at all. When she’s trying to flush out the spy in high command, it gives some context to why the main empire is so scared of her, and her druids.
With Haggar in particular I think about how there’s lore around the fair folk that depicts them as kidnappers- and people returned do not always return the same way they left, or, entirely… right. And how in-universe Shiro’s prosthetic is evidence that he attracted the “attention” of Haggar. Sendak also shows us some people do it on purpose but desperate or avaricious people barter with the fair folk all the time in fairy tales.
I don’t think the Alteans were secretly evil or anything like that- but a race whose main M.O. is diplomacy had to have some way of dealing with people who were not really interested in negotiating, or who were more interested in negotiating with the Alteans at swordpoint. Having a suitably intimidating reputation, or just a very special gift with words and arrangements would make perfect sense of that.
It is unwise to cross an Altean in a deal.