"You have hundreds of champions to defend a few land masses. I protect the other seventy percent of the world...and there is only one of me."
—Aquaman's job description, in his own words, in Kingdom Come
The King Of The Seas. The Monarch of Atlantis. The Justice League of America
's underwater protector. The nature Superhero
Aquaman (a.k.a. Arthur Curry a.k.a. Orin) is a DC Comics Superhero
with water-based powers. He's probably best known for his Superfriends
appearances, the lame nature
of that version's powers and the fact that he is in practically every episode, whether this makes sense or not ("What's that? Trouble in the desert? Come on team, we haven't a moment to lose! And let's bring Aquaman with us; his ability to breathe underwater and talk to fish are sure
to be useful there!"). In essence, having him take part in anything whatsoever was sort of the super-powered equivalent to pity sex.
persona also appears in a Latin America-only
official parody series called The Aquaman & Friends Action Hour
, which resembles Space Ghost Coast to Coast
Aquaman's powers have varied over the years; in all incarnations, he is mainly known for his ability to breathe underwater, swim at high speeds and communicate with sea life. He also often has something to do with The DCU
's version of Atlantis
Aquaman originated in The Golden Age of Comic Books
. He first appeared in "More Fun Comics
" #73 (November, 1941). He was created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger. In his earliest appearances, Aquaman was also strong
enough to deflect an artillery shell one-handed and outswim a torpedo. His powers were at first said to be the result of special training
, but were later described as the result of his scientist father experimenting on him. Rather than communicating with sea creatures telepathically, he could speak with them "in their own language".
He wasn't the first
aquatic superhero (Namor the Sub-Mariner
first appeared 2 years earlier), but he eventually came to be the most well-known.
Aquaman continued in "More Fun Comics
" until issue #107 (January, 1946). He was then transferred to "Adventure Comics
", starting with its 103rd issue (April, 1946). During The Interregnum
, Aquaman was one of the few Super Heroes
who remained in publication, largely due to his status as the backup feature in Superboy
In the Silver Age
, Aquaman's origins were revamped; now, he was a Half-Human Hybrid
and surface human, raised by his father, a lighthouse-keeper, and unaware of his royal heritage until recently. He was super-strong and tough because his body was "adapted to the sea's depths", and he could telepathically
control anything that lived on or near the sea. However, he was also given a Kryptonite Factor
of sorts; he could only spend one hour
out of the water before succumbing to potentially fatal weakness. Aquaman's career was, like Superman's, also retroactively extended back into his childhood as "Aquaboy," Superboy
's sole contemporary hero.
This version of Aquaman turned out to be more popular than the original. He continued appearing in "Adventure Comics
" until issue #284 (April, 1961). He became one of the founding members of the Justice League of America
in 1960, and was a regular there. In 1961, Aquaman's strip got transferred to "Detective Comics
", he starred in a few "Showcase
" issues, and he got several crossovers with Superman. All in preparation of his first solo title, "Aquaman
" vol. 1 #1-63 (February, 1962-March, 1971, revived August, 1977-August, 1978).
In the process Aquaman picked up a supporting cast, something which he had generally lacked (for a time in the late 40s he had been aided by a Ditzy Genius
sidekick named the Sea-Sleuth but he had vanished without trace years earlier
.) Most notable among them were sidekick
Aqualad, and super-powered wife Mera. They even had a kid. The Bronze Age
led to his comic being canceled, Un-Cancelled
, and re-canceled repeatedly. His child was murdered in an effort to drum up interest and provide angst, and he became the leader of the Dork Age
version of the Justice League (often referred to as "Justice League Detroit").
After Crisis on Infinite Earths
rolled around, Aquaman, like many DCU
denizens, got a new origin. Now, he was the son of an immortal Atlantean wizard, abandoned to die for his blond hair
and raised by dolphins
before being found by the lighthouse-keeper. After this, Peter David
became his main writer, and revamped him; his hand was eaten by piranhas and replaced with a hook, he grew out his beard
, and moved toward epic, Barbarian Hero
-style adventures. This led to a successful ongoing series for a time, but it slipped in popularity after David was removed, and was eventually canceled.
This led to yet another revamp. Atlantis was sent back in time thousands of years, its citizens enslaved by their own ancestors, and Aquaman himself was imprisoned as living water. The JLA
freed them in "The Obsidian Age" storyline, but Aquaman himself was cast out as a traitor. This led to him finding King Arthur
's Lady of the Lake, gaining a magical hand of living water
, and going back to his original appearance. This series also involved an underwater San Diego ("Sub Diego"), whose inhabitants had become water-breathers.
This direction, while not wholly unpopular, didn't result in a high-selling series. Thus, during Infinite Crisis
, Atlantis was destroyed. After the "One Year Later" Time Skip
became Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis
, going back to the Barbarian Hero
adventures that had done well before. A new Aquaman was introduced, Arthur Joseph Curry, whose origin and powers were similar to the Golden Age
Aquaman. He was guided by the "Dweller in the Depths", a tentacled humanoid who was implied to be Aquaman — most prominently, through having the magical water hand.
The Dweller died at the end of the series, after being revealed as, yes, the original Aquaman, who had made a deal with the sea gods to bring Sub Diego back onto land, after the magic that allowed them to breathe underwater was revoked.
In the Blackest Night Crisis Crossover
, Orin came back as a zombified Black Lantern, determined to show people why you don't mess with the king of the seas. He got off to a hell of a start by ripping out a guy's heart and summoning a bunch of zombie sharks to kill people. At the end of the series, he was brought back to life with his classic appearance and no water hand due to his Black Lantern form repairing him. He then went on to play a significant part in Brightest Day
, discovering a new Aqualad along the way.
To make things more confusing
, it appears that Orin came back with a version of his Silver Age origin - Arthur Curry once again, the Half-Human Hybrid
of the lighthouse keeper and Atlantean. While he was cast out due to his blond hair, he eventually earned his people's trust and became King of Atlantis. Artie Joe
is also now considered to be a multiversal equivalent of Aquaman who left Atlantis at the end of Final Crisis
He gets a new Geoff Johns
-written ongoing as part of DC's New 52
relaunch. It really doesn't require knowing any of the above to jump on, and actually tackles the idea of Aquaman being a joke character in its first story arc. Later on, he gets his first ever additional title, team book Aquaman and the Others
His appearances in other media have been a mixed bag. The devastating legacy of Superfriends is discussed above, and probably the reason why the DCAU
version of the Justice League
did not include him as a regular. This turned out to be rather ironic - many think that series' portrayal of King Arthur as the regal Lord of Atlantis
(not in exile, but actually ruling the place), who cut off his own hand in order to save his baby son, stormed the United Nations single-handedly to demand answers, and frequently antagonized the League until the (usually good) reasons for his actions came to light was one of the best, and deserved more attention. He also had a pretty cool animated cartoon in the 60s where he threw hard-water balls
. He also appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold
where he was a Boisterous Bruiser
(and slightly egotistical), could throw hard-water balls (including ones that looked like aqua-Hadokens
), and turned water into swords
. A version of the character has also appeared in Smallville
a couple times. This Arthur Curry has some kind of water-controlling power allowing him to create kinetic balls of water that explode on impact, has some degree of superhuman strength and swims faster than Clark, but dehydrates easily. He wears orange and green like the comic book version, but only because that's his college's school colors.
The character will make his live-action film debut in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
, portrayed by former Game of Thrones
star Jason Momoa.
Aquaman now has a developing Character sheet.
"This looks like a trope for Aquaman":
New 52 Version
- Cain and Abel: Averted so far in the New 52 — Orm and Aquaman genuinely care for each other, but have radically opposing philosophies. While they've fought one another, neither wanted to kill the other and still don't.
- Class Reunion: Arthur attends his in the N52 Aquaman #28. He's reluctant about it, having bad memories of his time at school (like Power Incontinence, his father dying, and getting publicly outed), but all-in-all it turns out better than expected.
- The Exile: The assassins and conspirators who were supposed to be put to death for trying to kill Mera were instead exiled to a place near the antarctic to start a new colony.
- Faking the Dead: Atlanta faked her own death.
- Fallen Hero: Atlan, the Dead King in the New 52 run. He wanted to unite various races and welcome them into Atlantis, but his brother decided it was better to kill him and his family. He sank Atlantis in response.
- Fantastic Racism: Mostly from fear cultivated over the centuries, Atlanteans fear the surface which turned to hate. Note that most people didn't even know there was an Atlantis until it went to war. Orm himself actually pities them and only has a mild dislike until then. Though he reconsiders his prejudices somewhat after escaping Belle Reve and taking residence with a human woman and her son during Forever Evil, protecting them.
- Genius Loci: The spirits and memories of the dead become part of Atlantis, so when they don't accept him as a ruler the land itself quakes.
- Missing Mom: Atlanta, Orm and Arthur's mother died before Arthur got to meet her. And then he finds out her body was removed from its grave later on.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Black Manta. As some Belle Reve guards learned in the New 52's Aquaman #14, "the guy who loses to Aquaman" can kill you with his hands tied.
- If thought about, it's the 'Aquaman is lame' joke taken to its furthest extreme. If one thinks that Aquaman is lame, then surely his villains must be even more lame. Except Aquaman is actually a very powerful hero, ergo anyone who can fight him, even if they lose, should NOT be underestimated, but 'everyone knows' Aquaman is lame, so...
- Time Skip: A six-month one from the start of Forever Evil at issue #23.
- Wham Line: "In a fit of rage, seeking revenge, Aquaman killed Black Manta's father."
- Vulko to Arthur: Atlan was once a great hero of the world... and your ancestors were the villains.