There is a general consensus from the non-comic reading community that Aquaman (aka Arthur Curry) is “uncool”, that he is “lame”. I believe that the Super Friends ruined his image and since then that interpretation has been the one that has stuck in people’s minds. I am here to inform you that not only are those who think the character is “lame” are wrong but that he is actually a pretty bad-ass.
Ever since the Super Friends animated TV series, which would have been for most people their first and often only exposure to the character, Aquaman has been as kind of dorky and assumed that his only power is that he can talk to fish. Although, if you watch the series you will see that most of the characters were written in a pretty goofy manner and definitely aimed at children. Batman and Robin were very inspired from the Adam West era, while other character’s interpretations were inspired by the comics of the 60s (an era known for some strange ideas). Aquaman’s translation came off the worst with his power watered down and made to look very unconvincing. Maybe it was Hanna-Barbera’s simplistic animation style or that the writers didn’t have a great grasp on the character but whatever it was, it didn’t help the character. Throughout the years the idea that Aquaman is “uncool” has stuck and is still brought up, even on television shows like The Big Bang Theory.
What people often forget is that the Super Friends is not the source material and Aquaman has had varying success in comics since the 1940’s. The tone of the character, along with the medium, became increasingly more serious with plots about the responsibility of being the King of Atlantis and even loosing a hand. Throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s the stories and history became convoluted for many years, with different interpretations and different directions. It wasn’t until the New 52 relaunch that the character was able to striped to his core and really shine.
Thanks to Geoff Johns the New 52 allowed for the character to start fresh, stripping away the convoluted past and shrugging off the uncool stigma of Super Friends. Johns spent the first 6 issues not only reintroducing the character but also debunking all the misconceptions from The Super Friends. Aquaman doesn’t talk to fish, but instead “reaches into their midbrains telepathically to push them” and help him out. Aquaman is just as useful out of water as he is in water, with enough strength to lift a van with his trident. He doesn’t wear an orange shirt, it is actually chain armour. These first 6 issues build the character to be not only a strong character, shrugging off the previous stigma with ease, but also build a human side to the character. This is done through the relationship with his father but also we also empathise with him when he is torn between his life on the surface and his past as ruler of Atlantis. The character is fleshed out even further when you see that he has a conscience over the fate of a certain enemy and if he made the right decisions.
Speaking of enemies, no hero is complete without a decent set of enemies to create threats for them. Luckily Geoff Johns has been able to create new enemies while reintroducing old ones to create some great stories and situations. The series begins with a new threat, The Trench, a relentless breed of aquatic monsters who will eat anything in sight. In the second story arc, where we see more about Arthur’s past in Atlantis, the classic villain Blank Manta is introduced. Black Manta is ruthless and would stop at nothing to get what he wants. He also has a personal vendetta against Aquaman, but I wont spoil what it is. The other major villain in the series is Orm (aka Ocean Master) who happens to be Arthur’s half brother and the King of Atlantis. This arc crosses over with Justice League and gets slightly political and at the same time shows that he can keep up with the likes of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
Speaking of the Justice League, of which Aquaman is a founding member, he is able to play his part and be just as interesting and exciting as the rest of the members. Additionally to prove he means business he does this…
I think that attitudes towards the character are starting to change, not only due to the current comic series, but also thanks to Injustice: Gods Among Us. Looking at the footage it is clear that Aquaman means business.
So What are Aquaman’s Powers Exactly?
- Can swim at super speeds
- Super strength (strong enough to pick up a van using his trident)
- A highten endurence, stamina, reflexes and durability (enough that he can resist gun fire)
- Can telepathically control fish and other sea creatures
Aquaman Sounds Awesome, What are Some Great Comics to Read?
I would start at the start of the current series and continue reading. These are the current collected editions available…
Aquaman vol. 1: The Trench (Collecting Aquaman #1-6)
Aquaman vol. 2: The Others (Collecting Aquaman #7-13)
Aquaman Vol. 3: Throne of Atlantis (Collecting Aquaman #0, 14-16 and Justice League #13-16)
Aquaman Vol. 4: Death of a King (Collecting Aquaman #17-19, 21-25)
Aquaman vol. 5: Sea of Storms (Collecting Aquaman #26-32 and Annual #2)
Aquaman vol. 6: Maelstrom (Collecting Aquaman #33-40 plus stories from Secret Origins #2 and #5) – Available in July 2015.
Hopefully I have been able to persuade you that Aquaman is not the uncool character that the Super Friends had lead you believe. Aquaman is a strong character who is fleshed out with an interesting back story, which continues to get increasingly fleshed out with every issue. I highly recommend that you check out the collected editions listed above, as you will see that Aquaman is bad-ass character who could rival Batman – in or out of water.