Comicbook / Aquaman

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"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.

Said Superfriends 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. As of The New '10s, Hydrokinesis is increasingly common as well. He also often has something to do with The DCU's version of Atlantis.

History

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 and durable 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's title.

In the Silver Age, Aquaman's origins were revamped; now, he was a Half-Human Hybrid of Atlantean 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 idea of the son of a light-house keeper and a merwoman may be inspired by the old song "My Father Was the Keeper of the Eddystone Light".)

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 The comic, Atlantis was destroyed. After the "One Year Later" Time Skip, Aquaman 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.

Appearances in other media:

Aquaman now has a developing Character sheet.


Aquaman is the Trope Namer for:


"This looks like a trope for Aquaman":

  • Aborted Arc: Has quite a few of these in truth.
    • Peter David initially wanted to expand on AC's connection with The Clear to make him an elemental like Swamp Thing, this was upended by the editor and he left afterwards.
    • The story of Aquaman as the waterbearer of the Lady of the Lake was cut short in its time.
    • A run detailing the corrupt megacorp run by a Gregory Jupiter who'd illicitly acquired aquaman's DNA which transformed the populace of subdiego into water breathers was dropped as quickly as it was conceived.
    • Sword of Atlantis fell short of finishing how it should have due to the story taking a turn in a different direction.
  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis: Atlantis.
  • Already Met Everyone: Superboy, anyway, in the Silver Age as "Aquaboy," Earth-One's sole other superpowered superhero during Superboy's time-era. Yes, the Silver Age Aquaman was an active hero longer than nearly everyone else, even Batman.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Villains Black Manta and King Shark are examples of this trope, as is Dolphin, an occasional supporting character. Oddly enough, Aquaman himself does not fit despite his Animal Motifs.
  • Apparently Human Merfolk: All of the Atlanteans, with the exception of small minorities of Fish People and actual Merfolk.
  • Artificial Limbs: During his fight against Noble, his Hook Hand was destroyed and he used a mechanical hand for the remainder of the battle.
  • Atlanteans are Morons: Its a given that the people of Atlantis are putzing, xenophobic, bigoted, fascist, paranoiac and massively hypocritically Jerkass. But time and time again many of them'ev proven to be as stupid as they are misanthropic fundamentalist's.
    • Every time the people of Atlantis have an opportunity to choose their own leader, they usually choose some complete bastard who enslaves them. Usually the second Aquaman’s back is turned some evil maniac takes the reigns of power leaving it up to him to risk life and limb to save them from their own cack handed attempts at democracy. Brings up the horrible yet oh so true notion in Aquaman comics that “People can’t be trusted with freedom.”
    • More often than not; a great many would be dictators or jerkass subjects who rally behind them fail to understand or are too stupid to get. That going to war with the surface world over lame reasons, be it racism or another dumb excuse more often then not fabricated by Atlantis and its people, giving justification for pointless conflict. Is the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction. Unleashing Atlantis's power on the world would destroy both races and the planet they're fighting over, given that earth is a shared ecosystem where everything plays its part and the removal of one or more of which from it throws it all catastrophically out of balance, well... The rest is history.
    • As above, even Mera isn't immune to the idiocy that sometimes overtakes her subjects. When Mad Scientist Dr. Starbuck betrays Aquaman & Aqualad and the former's wife goes off searching for her husband. She leaves her infant son, Aquababy, in charge of Atlantis with the same Dr Starbuck who sent them up the river as regent. That’s right. Mera leaves a baby with a creepy old man she’s just met in charge of a whole nation; who subsequently leads the people of Atlantis in an attack he on the US Navy. Was it mentioned that the people themselves were totally fine with her incredibly poor decision on her part?
  • Atlantis Is Boring: The series has been struggling against this since Aquaman's debut.
    • Averted in Sword of Atlantis, as most of the series took place outside Atlantis, despite the title. In this series, Aquaman travels the undersea world having adventures that feel like they're out of a fantasy novel, and Atlantis is mostly ignored.
      • Averted in 'Chronicles of Atlantis', which boots Aquaman almost entirely in favor of telling the history of Atlantis from its beginnings up until Aquaman's birth. It is anything but boring.
    • His series in the New 52 begins with Aquaman in exile.
  • Author Appeal: Peter David loves writing for Aquaman, and the joy practically spills off the page when he penned Aquaman and Namor's battle in DC Vs. Marvel.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Forget everything Super Friends ever taught you about Orin and face the facts, Aquaman is the King of the Seas,(that's 70% of the planet, folks), and he is a huge badass.
  • Badass Beard: Aquaman has one in nearly every incarnation in which he's an elderly King of Atlantis. Not only does he have a white beard to rival Poseidon's, but it makes him sufficiently Darker and Edgier to make the reader know that no one screws with him. Ever. Even Superman in Kingdom Come treats him with kid gloves.
  • Cain and Abel: Aquaman's enemy Orm, the Ocean Master.
    • A recurring theme in the story of Atlantis, according to the Atlantis Chronicles.
  • Canon Welding: Before DC started emphasizing Shared Universe elements, both Superman and Wonder Woman introduced their own contradictory versions of Atlantis; later writers on all three titles had to tie it all together. See Our Mermaids Are Different below.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: In Rick Veitch's early-2000s run, the titular hero confronts his archnemesis (and murderer of his son), Black Manta, and, after defeating him, uses his new magic powers to re-wire his brain and cure him of his autism; the painful and incompetent treatment he received as a child was part of why he'd become such an insane monster. He appears to turn himself around, but the apparent Freudian Excuse and Heel–Face Turn are subverted when, at a critical moment, Manta stabs Aquaman in the back and explains: "Y'see, deep down, in my most secret heart of hearts, I'm still a totally depraved sonuvabitch whose main goal in life is to watch you die. Slowly and painfully. Just like your kid."
  • The Chew Toy: In more than one way.
    • Aquaman's life, after the Superfriends screwed his reputation, spiraled into a long series of blunders and humiliations. In order: he lost his beloved son, was left by his wife (who, by the way, started to openly loathe and hate him, berating him for A.J.'s death with every breath), was exiled again from Atlantis with no apparent reason, got his left hand eaten by piranhas, pursued a relationship with a Cute Mute aquatic girl who later became noticeably less mute and somewhat less cute (trying to kill him because of a major Mind Screw, leaving him for Tempest), became king again and got back Mera just to be later exiled, cursed and left to die by Atlantean Wizards, became the Champion of the Lady of the Lake and major of a city of modern waterbreathers just to be forced to trade his humanoid looks and sanity for keeping them alive, died while grooming his successor, was called back as a soulless corpse, was resurrected to have his hand lopped off (again) and was unwillingly turned into the new Water Elemental. He got better every time, but that's not the point.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The Golden Age Aquaman had a sidekick called Phineas Pike (aka 'the Sea Sleuth'.) Pike was a brilliant but eccentric detective with a Sherlock Holmes style deerstalker who knew almost everything about the ocean and ocean life except how to swim. After several appearances in 1949 where he was the brains to Aquaman's brawn he abruptly vanished from the storyline and has not been mentioned since.
  • City of Adventure: Atlantis.
    • Later Aquaman's city is changed to Sub Diego, which is just what the name implies: it's San Diego, but underwater.
  • Colony Drop: Atlantis was originally sunk by a massive asteroid. Shalako and his followers believed it to be this, sent by the Goddess of the Sky to punish the Atlanteans for forsaking her. But most assume it was just a natural event. It turns out it was neither; it was a literal Colony Drop by the alien Annunake, who later attempted to destroy another city the same way; fortunately the second attempt was stopped.
  • Combat Pragmatist: "That's your weakness, Namor. You're too noble to cheat." (This battle scene took place during the 90's inter-company crossover).
  • Culture Justifies Anything: How many Atlantean terrorists, usurpers and insurgents justify deposing Arthur every time he comes to the aid of the surface world or just being an inadequate leader. The fact that Arthur is born of the surface is as much a reason as discriminating against his friends because of their connection to him.
  • Darker and Edgier: The Peter David series.
  • Deadpan Snarker. Out of necessity during his Peter David run, or he'd go nuts with grief.
  • Depending on the Writer: Whether he outright controls fish, or if they just do as he says because he's the king of the ocean. For example, Geoff Johns explicitly states the former in the first issue of the New 52 series.
    • Also, whether said control extends to seagulls as well as aquatic life.
      • Also how effective (if at all) his powers are on non-aquatic life.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Constantly. Aquaman throws down with Gods and Lovecraftian Horrors on the reg. Starting in his teenage years, when he messed up Triton's attempts to, um, "claim" Wonder Woman, through Peter David's run where he threw down with Poseidon, Hades, Tiamat and others, all the way up to the more modern stories where he's "only" picking fights with Lovecraftian Horrors at the bottom of the Ocean, or the living embodiment of God's wrath.
  • Doing In the Scientist: In his first appearance, his powers manifested through scientific means.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Partly Averted, in the pre-post crisis conflagration Aquaman is still largely acknowledged if albeit still somewhat neglected as a hero and king by people of the surface world.
    • Averted entirely by the time of Flashpoint where he is a hitleresque sea conqueror who leveled half of Europe in his battle against the militarized Wonder Woman, sinking most of its major continental cities beneath the waves threatening to plunge the world into unavertable catastrophe. A real farcry from AC's superfriends projection as the whole world can no doubt attest.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: His original Golden Age status quo would seem quite jarring to modern readers. Instead of being half-Atlantean, he was a normal human who owed his powers to experiments performed by his scientist father. Atlantis was a dead, sunken kingdom instead of a place where people actually lived. He actually did talk to fish instead of communicating with them telepathically, and even then, these powers had time and range limits. He also had No Name Given, and wouldn't go by "Arthur Curry" until the late '50s. And of course, his iconic supporting characters and villains like Mera, Aqualad and Black Manta wouldn't exist until The Silver Age.
  • Eldritch Abomination: One Brave and the Bold story reveals that there is an ancient Lovecraftian demon which emerges at the bottom of the sea to destroy the Earth once a year. Aquaman and Etrigan have a standing pact to team up each year to drive it back to its own dimension. Yes, Aquaman not only punches out Cthulhu, he beats the ever loving crap out of him on an annual basis.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Villainous example with Black Manta, who originally depended on his equipment to fight Aquaman, but Neron transformed him into a manta-man in Underworld Unleashed. This would be undone some time later.
    • The same can be said for Ocean Master both Pre and Post crisis. Much like Manta, Orm was also a simple Pirate who relied upon tools and gadgets to stand on equal footing with Orin in his early career. In Both continuities he'd acquire magical abilities through either an Ancient Artifact or by making a Devil's Deal for power.
  • Enemy Without / The Heartless: This is the role which "The Thirst" plays to the Waterbearer. If a bearer uses their power to harm rather then heal then he will revive to drink life itself. His strength is based on the bearer's negative emotions and if they should wield their power against him as well, then the two will merge, leading to a particularly unusual Battle In The Center OF The Mind. Giving in is the only way to truly defeat him.
  • Enigmatic Empowering Entity: In the early 2000s Aquaman underwent yet another retooling, which involved him being named 'The Waterbearer' by The Lady of the Lake herself. Rather than a magic sword, he was given a magic hand made of water. It was Better Than It Sounds.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: Aquaman was one of the most prominent Black Lanterns. In Brightest Day, it turned out that he still had some of the Black Lantern taint - he summoned undead sea life just like when he was a zombie.
  • Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: One of Aquaman's enemies is King Shark, who's basically a humanoid shark.
    • Even earlier, an extended storyline used Green Lantern villain the Shark — a hyper-evolved tiger shark — as a nemesis.
  • Fad Villain: The reasons behind Black Manta's villainy have changed with the times. First he was "Doing this to help black people!" then it was "Nah, I'm doing this for the money." then his motivation was "Screw you, Aquaman!". Post-New 52 it's "You Killed My Father!"
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • As a child, Aquaman was exiled from his home due to people with blonde hair being discriminated against in Atlantis.
    • DC Atlanteans in general have proven themselves to be superstitious, racist jerks, sometimes with humanoid Atlanteans even targeting non human, more fish-like Atlanteans for being impure.
    • Aqualad's origin involves being discriminated against for his purple eyes.
    • Frequently, Atlanteans are borderline genocidal against people living on the surface.
  • Fish out of Water: Possibly the most literal example in history. Played for laughs in JLA: Year One.
  • Foreshadowing: A story from 1959 titled "Aquaman meets Aquagirl" featured Aquaman meeting the titular Aquagirl, a purple-eyed Atlantean who was jettisoned from Atlantis as a baby because purple eyes indicate an Atlantean who is a throw-back to the time before the oceans drank Atlantis. Not long after, Aqualad made his debut but rather from not being able to survive underwater he was afraid of fish.
  • Funny Animal: "Aquaduck," a Funny Animal duck counterpart who lives on the parallel world of "Earth-C-Minus" (a Funny Animal version of the mainstream DCU), and is part of his world's "JLA" (the "Just'a Lotta Animals").
  • Genre Shift: The Sword Of Atlantis storyline was an attempt at this; dropping most of the superhero Tropes and instead framing the book as a sword-and-fantasy tale, with the new Aquaman facing mystical threats and themes.
  • The Good King: No matter his people, his advisory, his wife & kids think of him. Arthur is and will always be this and more.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Arthur's brother, Prince Orm (aka the Ocean Master), despises him for taking the throne. This was also the motivation for the traitorous Captain Rodunn in Rick Veitch's 2003 run, but he repented after Aquaman saved his life.
  • Half-Human Hybrid.
  • Happily Married: Aquaman and Mera, to the point that in the New 52, it's the only hero marriage that is still intact.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: He can summon sea life. ALL sea life. Do you know how many living things exist within a cubic mile of ocean? That's not even taking into account the strength, durability and sheer force of will he possesses.
    • He commands all sea life, furthermore he's one of the most powerful telepaths in the entire DCU due to the fact that all life on earth (and several other planets) evolved from the sea and he can use his powers to tap into that part of the brain to control whatever the hell he wants (though only one writer has allowed Aquaman to control humans with the same finesse as fish).
    • Not to mention that, as has been pointed out elsewhere on this wiki, his skillset makes Aquaman effectively the ruler of over three quarters of our planet's surface. He's also not above pointing it out himself when people start giving him lip.
      • On occasion, his political powers as head of state of Atlantis also qualify - he not only commands an army, but it's also usually portrayed as being both magically and technologically superior to that of any surface nation: head to head, he could probably defeat the Green Lantern Corps if they decided to invade Earth.
      • "Don't even think about picking a fight with the King of Atlantis."
  • Heroic Sacrifice: If Sword of Atlantis had not been canceled, Arthur Joseph would have given up the part of Orin's soul that had kept him alive in order to revive him so that the original Aquaman could save the world from an evil sea god.
    • However, the original Aquaman was revived as part of Brightest Day and no mention has been made of Artie Joe since.
  • Important Haircut: Most of the different interpretations of the character can be distinguished by their combination of beard and hairstyles. Classic Aquaman (short hair and no beard), stoic Aquaman who was a frequent guest star without a series of his own (long hair and no beard), Badass Barbarian Aquaman (long hair and long beard), Boisterous Bruiser Aquaman (short hair, short beard), and Joseph Curry (long hair and no beard).
    • The "real name" being used by Aquaman at the time also tends to reveal the orientation of the character. Classic Aquaman tends to be called Arthur, Barbarian Aquaman tends to be called Orin, and Joseph is . . . well, Joseph, the only one of the four different interpretations to literally be a totally different character.
  • In-Series Nickname: While Mera found that amusing during the '60s run, and a slight annoyance in the '90s, she's now shown as completely fed up at the amount of people calling her Aquawife or Aquawoman, and ready to snap towards them whenever they use the unwanted fan nickname in her presence.
  • Insistent Terminology: His fans are quick to point out that he doesn't "talk to fish." He commands.
  • Interplanetary Voyage: A couple of times, mostly with the JLA but rarely by himself.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: He's been called on to fight these things a few times. For obvious reasons, Aquaman can deal with them on a much more level playing field.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: On the Atlanteans mostly. Seeing as all their magnanimously foolhardy decisions and Hidden Elf Village tendencies lean them into Ungrateful Townsfolk territory, especially towards Arthur. This usually ending up with a duly elected despot of the week, bequeathed the throne by Atlantis's idiot citizenry, who try to drown the world to pave the way for Atlantean supremacy; among other atrocities. One cannot help but feel a little vindicated when The Spectre literally put his foot down on Atlantis during Infinite Crisis due to all its Black Magic drawing the crazed spirit of vengeance to them.
    • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Kind of a long time coming given the number of times Atlantis and its people've pulled Aquaman off the throne only to beg him to take it back while still holding knives directed towards their begrudged king. Especially since one of the last times he lost his royal status was when Orin's infant son was killed by Black Manta and Mera left him out of shame and rage, blaming AC for the disaster. This all happened before Arthur lost his left hand to piranhas.
  • Legacy Character: Arthur Joseph Curry.
  • Lighthouse Point: Arthur Curry's father was a lighthouse keeper.
  • Love Redeems: Mera, post Brightest Day. Raised as little more than an assassin, her only purpose in life enacting her people's revenge towards Atlantis, she was meant to get close to the then-current king of Atlantis and start tearing apart the undersea kingdom from behind. However, she found Aquaman noble, gentle and likable, becoming an affectionate wife and a heroine on her own.
  • Making a Splash: The 1960s Aquaman cartoons showed him hurling "hard water balls" at his enemies under water.
  • Meaningful Name: His name is Arthur Curry. As in, KING ARTHUR Curry
  • Mobile Fishbowl: Aquman has a special suit filled with water for missions on land. It ends up saving the life of Martian Manhunter in Tower of Babel.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Parodies of Aquaman use this frequently due to his powers, as the above quote explains.
  • Never Heard That One Before: You may not have heard about this, but he talks to fish! Lampshaded perfectly in the first Justice League team-up episode on Smallville, in which Green Arrow and Cyborg relate to Clark Kent how Green Arrow first met Aquaman when GA rescued him from a whaling vessel. GA snarks "I saved him from being canned," and Cyborg chimes in "At least he would have been dolphin safe!" An irritated Arthur rolls his eyes and says to Clark:
    Arthur: Fish jokes. 'S'all I ever get are fish jokes.
  • '90s Anti-Hero: The Peter David revamp was a version of this, but probably the most well-received implementation of the trope on a pre-existing character. The changes actually seemed to make sense to many readers, and was intended to undo some of the damage that Superfriends had done to the character's reputation.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Topo the Octopus in the comics and Fluke the Dolphin in Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
    • PLATELET!
    • And no one can forget Tusky the Walrus in the Filmation series (who even made a brief appearance in the New Titans comic) — though God knows we've tried.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: There are pretty much three different distinct varieties of Atlantean in Aquaman's oceans. Poseidonians - the Apparently Human Merfolk like Aquaman and most of the other Atlanteans. Tritonaians - your mermaids and mermen like Lori Lemaris. And an unnamed race of Fish People like Lagoon Boy, the animated version of Triton, or the revamped Topo. In Superman #129, it was established that when scientists learned that Atlantis was sinking, they built a giant dome over the city, then later found a way to convert the populace into merfolk. As to why this has anything to do with Aquaman, Adventure Comics #280 tells that not everyone became merfolk successfully, thus a domed city remained necessary. This origin was later retconned in The Atlantis Chronicles, where is clearly stated that the aquatic serum was never meant to convert Atlanteans into merfolks, but rather to merely give them the ability to breathe water and thrive in the ocean. The merfolk came to be much later as an accident, when Shalako, a villainous wizard-prince of Atlantis, just to spite his scientist brother, tampered with the special serum used to achieve the transformation, turning his denizens into frog-legged humans, who later gave birth to the current merfolk. So, while every Atlantean city was originally domed, some of them got the domes dismantled for the benefit of the merfolks. Curiously, the Fish People of Atlantis have yet to be given either an official name or origin story in the entirety of the franchise's history.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: For all the grief that pop culture gives him, Aquaman is by no means a lightweight - command over all sea-life, de-facto leader of the oceans and super-strength among other qualities. Problem is, he regularly hangs out with powerhouses like Superman and Wonder Woman. Back in his natural element he is king.
  • Papa Wolf: If you threaten his kid or any other member of his family, you're pretty much screwed.
  • Princeling Rivalry: Aquaman is the strong first born who, in most incarnations, is betrayed by his younger half brother Orm/Ocean Master. But this being a classic comic book character he escapes the peril and puts Orm behind aquatic bars.
    • In the Justice League version, Orm chains Aquaman and his newborn son to the side of a cliff that's falling into magma. Aquaman gets one arm free and uses it to chop off his other hand so he can get out in time, and then goes to attack Orm directly. See Papa Wolf above.
  • Psychic Powers: Usually only works on fish and other marine life... but since all life on Earth came from the ocean, Aquaman can telepathically stun even humans (though this takes a lot out of him).
    • One particularly silly Silver Age story had him defeat a villain who used land-based animals...because the enemy had brought along a water buffalo, which Aquaman could control.
    • When he gave an enemy a seizure though tapping into their basal ganglia, Aquaman does it fairly casually, and he even says for starters he can give a seizure to incapacitate, implying that's not even all he's got. And what's more, he did it to a Martian, who are naturally strong telepaths in the first place.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Due to being adapted for life deep underwater as well as dry land Aquaman has basically won the Superpower Lottery: He's strong and tough to the point where he can lift over 20 tons, has several Super Senses, is very fast, and his telepathic abilities approach the Martian Manhunter's.
  • Rogues-Gallery Transplant: The Shark and King Shark started out menacing Green Lantern and Superboy, respectively.
  • Running Gag: Aquaman's love of hot dogs. This led to a hilarious moment when he was forced to see a doctor for an unrelated issue, and told he should be eating more fish.
  • Ruthless Modern Pirates: Aquaman often clashes with pirates.
    • Black Manta himself is a submarine pirate.
    • Blackjack, Aquaman's Golden Age archenemy, was one of these.
    • Ocean Master, before he gained magic powers. Fits too.
  • Scary Black Man: Black Manta again; emphasis on the "scary". He might look like a fairly average comic book villain, but he has a serious Lack of Empathy for other people, including his own son.
  • Sidekick: The Aqualads and Aquagirls.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal
  • Sunken City: For a time, Aquaman was based in Sub Diego, a portion of San Diego that was submerged in an attempt to convert humans into subaquatic beings. The population consisted of a mix of these altered humans and Atlantean refugees.
  • Super Speed: Aquaman can swim at 150 knots - that's an incredible 175 mph. He exploited that ability against the slow-swimming Namor (til he got too gabby and got upper-cutted out of the water.) And he's reached 10,000 feet per second, which is nearly mach 10!
  • Super Strength: His super-strength is often underestimated. The new Geoff Johns run even draws this visual parallel with his massive In a Single Bound jumps.
    • Just as a warming up, Aquaman lifts with ease an armored truck over his head after impaling it on his snazzy trident.
    • Mera grabs a would-to-be abuser's arm and gives him just a light squeeze. That's enough to cripple him for life.
  • Tame His Anger: Aquaman tries to get Black Manta to do this. It doesn't work.
  • Thematic Rogues Gallery: Most of Aquaman's enemies are involved with water and the ocean in one form or another.
  • To Hell and Back: Near the end of PAD's run, Triton has killed Poseidon and is kicking the crap out of Aquaman and friends. Aquaman lets Triton kill him, so he can get to the afterlife. Once there, he decks Charon, rallies the souls who didn't have boatfare, jacks Charon's boat, runs Charon over with his own boat, storms the literal Gates of Hell, cuts off one of Cerberus' heads, marches right up to Pluto and demands Poseidon back, ultimately convincing Hades with a very solid Batman Gambit. On his way out, Cerberus is back, and Aquaman has just one word for the titanic guardian of the underworld: Stay.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: After The Spectre razed Atlantis, robbing it of all its magic. The survivors of said cataclysm, blaming any and all former conjurers who also lost their powers as a result, would vindictively assail them in lynch mobs at the mere sight of one. With Extreme Prejudiced.
    • Of coarse while many of them were guiltless in the cities destruction. It most likely didn't help that a majority of whom headed by an evil cabal of wizards took the reins of power for themselves, imposing all manor of inexorable taxation's and idiot laws in their name.
  • Under City: There were originally seven lost cities that were once apart of the original continent of Atlantis. The five fragmented environments eventually expanded and became cultures of their own, having remained secret from the rest of the world for many many centuries. Even Atlantis was in the dark about this sordid history, either believing it to be myth & legend or just plain not knowing they existed.
    • Tlapallan: Under sea metropolis with a Mayanesque culture featuring yellow skinned atlanteans.
    • Hy-Brasil: Deep trench dwelling society which was the nucleus of Atlantis's defense cathedral and science wing.
    • Thierna na Oge: Oceanic coven city deeply tied to the mystic forces of the world, home to an onclave of atlantean sorcery.
    • Dreaming City: A once thriving hidden mountain colony where individuals unlocked higher conciousness through science and sorcery. Destroyed by Ocean master when he took control and lost it under Neron's influence.
    • Sharaia: An unknown city inhabited by Manta ray like atlanteans discovered by Arthur Joseph Curry during his stint as Aquaman.
  • Upbringing Makes the Hero: In some continuities.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Aquaman used to die if he wasn't in contact with water after an hour. This weakness has been removed.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In Dan Jurgens' underappreciated run on the book, the tyrannical surface nation of Cerdia went to war with Atlantis. Arthur appealed to the U.N. for help, to no avail. So Arthur and his people fought back and won, conquering Cerdia—all nice and legal because it was a defensive war, and Arthur had gone to the United Nations first. Arthur swears to the Cerdians that he will be a better ruler than the tyrants he has deposed, and is optimistic that having territory on dry land will make Atlantis more of a "real country" in the eyes of the world. A Flash Forward story even confirms that that will happen. Then the book was canceled, and we never heard anything about Cerdia ever again.
    • The Sub Diego arc involved an evil organization having stolen Aquaman's DNA for sinister reasons. Then Day of Vengeance happened and it was pretty much forgotten.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Aquaman is traditionally the poster-child for this trope, mainly thanks to Superfriends. However, due to overcompensation by modern writers it no longer really applies to him, see Heart Is an Awesome Power above.
    • As stated above, Geoff Johns has pushed this trope into a dichotomy: while the reader knows now how useful Aquaman's powers really are, the DC Universe internal public, accustomed to people like Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, sees Aquaman as the Superfriends equivalent.

New 52/Rebirth Version


  • 0% Approval Rating: To start with, not many among the Atlantean populace were all that happy to have a half-breed surface born king on the throne. Even after taking back his birthright he still wrestles with their superstition and hate fueled paranoia towards the land above.
  • Aborted Arc: Geff Johns' run ended with setting up another crossover between Justice League and Aquaman about Nereus trying to unite the Seven Seas. The crossover never came during Johns' tenure as writer of Justice League. Averted once DC Rebirth was announced, wherein Johns has said it's one of his planned projects.
  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis: Atlantis, as well as its mysterious seven other kingdoms.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Happens more times than one would think, The Dead King being the biggest case as his dirtbag brother Orin who simultaneously steals his sibling King's throne and kingdom also orders the murder of his family for ownership of Atlantis. The real kicker being? Him and his wife are the people whom our stories protagonist and All-Loving Hero descends from.
  • Altar Diplomacy: Many of the under sea kingdom elopements are done out of political arrangements. largely to better tie political powers with its military.
  • Ambadassador: New Aquaman comics are certainly shaping Arthur and Mera up to be, as well as the whole of the Aquaman Family. Arthur being The Good King that he is, after having stopped the criminal organization who sparked it, went the extra mile of stopping all fighting by unanimously surrendering to America. Even Superman Was Impressed With This!
    • Surprisingly so was the rest of the world, with many across the globe who'd given such props to the sea king have even christened themselves his AquaFans.
  • Another Dimension: Just as popular in the reboot as it was in previous run. The new take on Aquaman's story is rife with Alternate Universe's, Eldritch Location's and Lost World's adjacent to Atlantis and the mainstream DC Comics Continuum.
  • Atlanteans Are Bastards: While Arthur does and acts on whats best for his people, he knows full well that there are those within Atlantis who would gleefully take any excuse at face value to war with and brutalize him and the surface world.
    • Naturally the reverse applies to surface dwellers, most Atlanteans feel this way about humans. Especially Murk who confirms it in Aquaman Vol. 7 #18 after absconding Atlantean weaponry sold over the Black Market from thieves and slavers using them to steal from or sell off their own kind for profit.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Arthur has his moments, his best however was when he deposed his half-brother Orm in order to retake his title as King of Atlantis. Beating him in the middle of a war no less, singlehandedly halting the advance of atlantean forces with a word, four simple words to be precise.
    • Black Manta also fits the bill as he singlehandedly took the reigns of a Nebulous Evil Organization from its previous C.E.O. for his own, all for the sake of escalating his war on Aquaman and any dreams of peaceful coexistence with the surface world he had.
  • Balance of Power: Aquaman does his best to maintain this and establish a peaceful cohabitation between both worlds, for if it were ever to fall apart a world war would break out threatening the destruction of the Surface and the Seas.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: It does with the people of Atlantis. Years of hatred, arrogance, bigotry and paranoid delusions have made them believe just about anything and everything horrible about the surface world and its people. A mystic cabal from a separate dimension used this in their attempt to overtake the main DC universe by turning the people and the atlantean army against their king.
  • Break Them by Talking: One of the rare heroic examples in the new Rebirth titles, Aquaman actually managed to debase his greatest enemy Black Manta by stating how he wastes his life on pointless anger while Arthur is constantly reinventing himself.
    • Of coarse this comes back to bite him in the ass later on, while far from thinking of moving on from his hatred of Arthur. Manta has now expanded his horizons on how to achieve the goal of destroying him, thanks to an invitation from a Nebulous Evil Organisation which he then claimed leadership of for his own ends.
  • 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.
  • The Chewtoy: Downplayed compared to previous publishing but it is more present then ever before.
    • Remember all the Superfriends jokes? During Geoff Johns' run, it's revealed that they exist even in-universe. And everyone in the DC Universe feels entitled to openly berate the "guy who speaks with fishes", married to "Aquawoman/Aquawife" (who may be a mermaid who turns into a woman when dry), broke because of a lack of employment, wearing a ridiculous shirt and useless if compared with the rest of the League. This despite, as mentioned elsewhere, the Superfriends portrayal being the exception to the rule and the character actually being quite badass.
  • 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.
  • Cultured Badass: Comes with the territory when one is both king and adventurer seeking answers to his own home's past.
  • Culture Justifies Anything: How many in Atlantis view the surface worlds transgressions and intrusions into their domain, the fact that aquaman is surface born and their roundabout belief in prophecies provides yet another excuse for their isolationist, bordering genocidal views.
    • The upcoming Crown of Atlantis Arc will cement this as the people are putting a known terrorist on the throne.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: Since rebirth titles focus on the political side of Aquaman comics. The title character strives to improve relations between his kingdom and the surface world. To say in the least calling it an Understatement that it was an incredibly rocky effort is an oversimplification that doesn't do it justice.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: In the first few issues of the New 52 run, it's stated outright that the population of the DC Universe consider him a joke just as much as comic book fandom does. Meaning he's had to build up his reputation pretty much from scratch.
  • 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.
    • Many Atlanteans weren't too happy with the fact that their newest king was a half-born who descends from surface world heritage. A lot of them still aren't by Arthur's own words, Orm on the other hand while still somewhat fearful of the surface and yet tolerant of them nonetheless was elated to have a brother despite his mixed background. Openly admitting to have wept out of fear and sorrow over having found out he was trapped on the surface world and opting to save him from it.
    • It's telling that in New 52 continuity, Ocean Master's distaste for humans still makes him more tolerant than some of his followers. Though Ocean Master would grow to reconsider his prejudices after escaping a surface-world prison and taking residence with a human woman and her son.
  • 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.
    • Played again in Rebirth when Aquaman and Mera find a crevice leading to an Alien Sea planet dominated by sapient water. The same waterworld is also the Monster Progenitor turning those consumed by fear or rage into the rampaging sea beast Dead Water.
  • The Good King: Aquaman is pretty good at this despite his Hero with Bad Publicity status, both to the surface public and his subjects in Atlantis. Though it does and kinda doesn't help that the public of both are kinda Jerkass in they're own right.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Manta in spades.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: A sentiment shared by most if not all atlantean people. In particular, Murk of The Drift who bears much more than simple racism towards the surface dwellers. Something that happened to him in the deeply rooted past which he'd rather not disclose as of late.
  • In a Single Bound: Being fully adapted to live in the pressure of the deepest sea trenches, Aquaman and Mera, while on the surface, are both able to leap miles at times through the air, with Incredible Hulk-like jumps.
  • Interplanetary Voyage: Happens more often than not, two times Arthur has ventured to aliens worlds after the reboot. One was a planet afflicted by the Thule's incursion, while another was brought about by accidentally stumbling upon the mystery of Dead Water.
  • Ironic Echo: Manta in the beginning of the Aquaman Rebirth, stating his wife Mera was the linchpin in Arthur's dark world, that if he ever lost her the weight of being sea king would crush him indefinitely. Lets not forget how Flashpoint Aquaman turned out because of this.
  • It Runs in the Family: Noted by Mera about Atlanna that the good looks and superpowers pass from generation to generation, for Atlantean royalty. In Xebel's case one marries into the power as well as the crown. Whenever the last king of the colony passes both their title as monarch and the hydromancy of the royal bloodline passes over to their next marital successor.
  • Love Before First Sight: Mera meeting with Arthur in the secret origin comics. While initially poisoned by Xebelian propaganda, she came to adore Aquaman intently eventually becoming his loyal bride.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Most Atlanteans vehemently fear and hate the surface world as a whole. The few who truly detest humanity are part of a terrorist sect called The Deluge, a fiercely xenophobic movement which thinks war with the surface world is for the good of Atlantis.
  • 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.
  • Mordor: The mystically conceived alternate dimension of Thule erected by a cabal of mystics was equivalent to this until its destruction.
  • Mythology Gag: The New 52's Aquaman #10 features Black Manta's collection of nautical memorabilia, including Arthur's Hook Hand and the original Black Manta helmet. What makes it this is that as far as can be seen, Arthur never lost his hand in current continuity, and never met Manta before he wore his current helmet.
    • Hook Hand Arthur, complete with beard, shows up in an Imagine Spot of one of Arthur's classmates in Aquaman #28.
    • Aquaman #29 has Arthur borrowing his Batman: The Brave and the Bold's counterpart's catchphrase while berating himself for letting his trident be stolen: "Outrageous!"
  • 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.
  • Of the People: A clear and glaring problem about the people of Atlantis and possibly other undersea nations is the strict isolationist surface hating cultural ways of the atlanteans. Many of them chose mainly to steer clear of the humans and the world above, other less enlightened minds have a tendency to think cleansing the surface is the only way to protect themselves.
    • Unfortunately a great many surface dwellers share the same sentiment's towards Atlantis deeming them a threat to national security. As though human kind isn't enough of its own pursuit predator as it stands.
  • Omniscient Council of Vagueness: Arthur contends with one or two at least twice a week, both in New 52 and DC Rebirth publishing.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: On the one hand Aquaman stopped being viewed as a joke to the world. On the other hand he's now looked at with as much fear and mistrust by it as he is in his own kingdom.
  • Prongs of Poseidon: Takes much more prominence in this comic run than it did in the last. Usually those who hold a trident, scepter or some form of polearm carry an entitlement to superintendency, for possession of which regularly stands as a symbol of leadership in these instances. In rarer cases, they're the prerequisite of royal blood largely within Atlantean based cultures.
  • Refusal of the Call/Refused by the Call: This was the case with Mr. Curry's ascendance to the throne, many of his so called subjects weren't too happy about him being their leader much less being among them due to his human heritage given their world view of surface dwellers. He eventually dumped the throne all together leaving his brother Orm in charge because he couldn't stand the bigotry he faced trying to claim his birthright, a claim that he never even wanted in the first place. Arthur is Still met with loads and loads of resistance to his monarchy from start to finish even after taking the reigns of state into his hands. Once the very topography of the nation initially rejected his rightful rule at first.
    • Resigned to the Call/The Call Knows Where You Live: Had to reclaim the reigns of sovereignty after his former mentor, Vulko; instigated a war between the surface and Atlantis in order to get Arthur to take back his seat on the throne. Though it didn't help that Arthur's brother was a human hating semi-fascist in the first place. It may have been a pretty risky Xanatos Gambit on his end given that risking war between the surface and the sea usually results in horrendous genocide for all, plus using a clan of veracious cannibals; The Trench as a makeshift Enemy Mine for both sides plus the Justice League to fight against when it all could've just as easily gone sideways from there.
  • Rescue Romance: This was the case for Tom Curry when he first met Atlanna of Atlantis. She did save him from drowning when his lifeboat capsized while out on patrol, they fell and live since then begetting Arthur Curry as a result.
  • Time Skip: A six-month one from the start of Forever Evil at issue #23.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The series as a whole under Geoff Johns's penmanship, what makes it stand out is how it tackles the whole Superfriends stigmatism that Aquaman suffered from for so long.
  • Under City: The seven hidden cities of Atlantis fall into this as they were originally apart of the once whole Atlantis. Under King Atlan's rule these continents thrived and mingled with Atlantean culture before when they were enemies of the state, Nowadays since Atlantis's shattering they've been relegated to myth and mystery never to be heard from again. Until Rise of The Seven Seas that is.
    • The Trench: a ravenous cavern dwelling race of subhuman water breathers who adapted to living in the sea floor.
    • Xebel: Secessionist clan of criminals exiled from Atlantis to a cosmic Alcatraz within the Bermuda Triangle, occupied by water bending merefolk.
  • Ungrateful Townsfolk: Openly bashed on by the world at large for being a.) surface born by the people of Atlantis and b.) seen as useless outside the water by people on land. For a so-called lame hero he usually does a good job saving the ingrate masses of both sides, both from world ending threats and more often then not, themselves.
  • We Would Have Told You, But...: Neereus the king of Xebel, was dispatched by The Dead King; Atlan, to discover the whereabouts of the other four out of seven kingdoms of atlantis. Only to return stating he could not find any of them...
    • I Lied: Turns out he was purposefully withholding his findings when Neereus went searching for Orm Marius to seek out their locations together.
  • 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.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Comicbook/Aquaman