All the jokes about talking to fish aside, I was thinking yesterday about why Aquaman doesn’t get the love and admiration that other big name superheroes do. If Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are Batman and Superman, then Aquaman would probably be Ben Affleck. Sure, he’s pretty cool and he was once relevant, but now his star doesn’t shine as bright as it used to.
Aquaman has never been the “cool” superhero in most people’s eyes. That’s not to say he doesn’t deserve any respect. He is, after all, a founding member of the Justice League, not to mention the king of his own nation. Yes, he can talk to fish, but he also has super strength and is a formidable warrior. Aquaman even had his own animated series from 1967 to 1970 and had two sidekicks: Aqualad and Aquagirl. Every superhero worth their salt has a sidekick, and Aquaman has two of them.
In the days of the Super Friends animated series, Aquaman usually just hung out in the Hall of Justice or swam around in the ocean waiting for a water-related emergency. He was effectively reduced to a second-string status, and was barely more useful than the Wonder Twins. I think that Super Friends did more to hurt his reputation than anything else. The big three (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman) shared most of the spotlight and even heroes like Flash and Green Lantern were eventually edged out.
Let’s explore Aquaman’s history for a moment. The character was first introduced in More Fun Comics #73 in 1941. He was created by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris. He has since starred off and on in his own comic series, as well as having numerous guest appearances in other comics over his seventy-year history. Beyond his famous ability to control marine life, he is a powerful telepath. He possesses superhuman strength, speed, agility and endurance. He’s amphibious (naturally), has resistance to extreme cold and has enhanced senses. Just recently he has demonstrated the ability to jump great distances and he’s somewhat invulnerable to bullets.
Throughout the years, Aquaman (also known as Arthur Curry and Orin) has gone through several changes in both appearance and storyline. He has even died and been replaced by another Aquaman, Arthur Joseph Curry, before being resurrected during Blackest Night. He has seen some stuff during his lifetime and has been through most major events in the DC Universe. He was even leader of the Justice League for a short time and was credited for saving the Earth from a Martian invasion.
That only scratches the surface of the Aquaman universe. In addition to all that I just mentioned, he is also the King of Atlantis. As such, he commands a large and technologically advanced army of Atlanteans. This has also lead him to come into conflict with the surface world on more than a few occasions. He is, for all intents and purposes, the Superman of the Seven Seas and not a person you’d want to make an enemy of. He also has a smoking hot wife named Mera; not every superhero can make that claim.
Speaking of enemies, he has been pitted against a rather unique list of rouges over the years. Being the ruler of a vast underwater world, he is constantly facing threats from within his kingdom as well as from without. His most notable nemesis (and one of my personal favorites) is Black Manta. The two have a long history, reaching back to his first appearance in Aquaman #35 in 1967.
Today, Aquaman has experienced a surge in popularity due in part to the prominent role he played in Brightest Day after his resurrection. This culminated in a new ongoing series, launched as part of DC’s New 52. He may not wear a big S on his chest, have a utility belt full of cool gadgets or wear a power ring, but Aquaman is DC royalty and has been one of the heavy hitters in the DC Universe for quite some time.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I was one of those fans that dismissed him because he wasn’t as cool as Batman or Green Lantern. Let’s face it, talking to fish isn’t a skill that tends come in handy very often; but that’s not all Aquaman should be known for. He has contributed to the success of not only the Justice League, but the entire DC Universe.
In the first issue of the new Aquaman comic, writer Geoff Johns attempts to make fun of some of the stereotypes that surround the character and shine a light on his slightly humorous public image. But Johns also seems to be taking the character in a new direction, and I for one am very happy about it.
There have been a number of new comic series released this month, in addition to the DC’s New 52. Some new series have been good, some not so good and others have been downright great. This new Aquaman is definitely shaping up to be one of the sleeper hits in DC’s new line of comics. Along with a few other new titles, I am quite proudly and publicly announcing that I will be adding Aquaman to my pull list.
So if you haven’t picked up Aquaman #1 yet, or if you’ve never been interested in the character, I urge you to give it a read. Not only will you be surprised at the great writing and superb artwork, you’ll be able to see that even the guy who talks to fish can be cool. Be sure to also check out Seth Jacob’s review of Aquaman #1 here on Comic Booked!