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Comic Book / Aquaman
aka: Aqualad

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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

Aquaman (a.k.a. Arthur Curry a.k.a. Orin) is a DC Comics Superhero with water-based powers. For a long time he was 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.

However, following a very public Character Rerailment that began during the New 52, and his subsequent appearance in the DC Extended Universe played by Jason Momoa, his public image has notably improved. Modern depictions of Aquaman generally portray him as a rugged yet regal protector of the oceans, rather than an ineffectual joke.

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. Aside from that, he's essentially the underwater equivalent of a Flying Brick, possessing super-strength and enhanced durability, and he is often depicted as one of the Justice League's main heavy hitters (though usually not as powerful as Superman or Wonder Woman). 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.


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 wake of DC Infinite Frontier, it was revealed that this iteration of the character was a completely different person from the more well-known 'Half-Atlantean' iteration.

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 (1962) 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 a 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 Audience-Alienating Era 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 Orin, 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 with Aquaman (1994), 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 with Aquaman (2003). 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, 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. Artie Joe is now considered to be a multiversal equivalent of Aquaman who left Atlantis at the end of Final Crisis.

The Dweller died in the middle 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 mutation that allowed them to breathe underwater reverted.

In the Blackest Night Crisis Crossover, Arthur - yes, Arthur again, a version of his Silver Age history as the Half-Human Hybrid son of Tom Curry and Atlanna, cast out due to his blond hair, he eventually earned his people's trust and became King of Atlantis, only to be cast out again and hunted by the Atlanteans - 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 an Atlantean guard'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.

He got a new reboot headed by Geoff Johns (who helmed Blackest Night and Brightest Day) 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. It did however, make a few notable changes, including not having yet married Mera, and his rivalry with Black Manta having long ago started over accidentally killing the latter's father. Later on, he got his first ever additional title, the short-lived team book Aquaman and the Others.

His series was resumed as part of DC Rebirth, with Dan Abnett as writer.

Appearances in other media:

Aquaman now has a developing Character sheet.

"This looks like a trope for Aquaman":

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    In General 
  • Aborted Arc:
    • 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.
    • Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis fell short of finishing how it should have due to the story taking a turn in a different direction.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Aquaman's archnemesis is Black Manta, a mercenary who wears a large metal helmet that vaguely resembles said fish's shape.
  • Apparently Human Merfolk: All of the Atlanteans, with the exception of small minorities of Fish People and actual Merfolk, are indistinguishable from regular humans.
  • Arch-Enemy: Has two recurring foes with an equal claim to being his nemesis; Black Manta and Arthur's own brother Orm, aka Ocean Master.
  • Artificial Limbs: During his fight against Noble, his Hook Hand was destroyed and he used a mechanical hand for the remainder of the battle.
  • 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.
  • Awesome Underwater World: Aquaman stories have had this as a general trait since his inception, with many stories focusing on the wonder of undersea life and how beautiful it is.
  • 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.
  • Captain Fishman: If Namor the Sub-Mariner was the Trope Maker, then Arthur Curry, AKA Aquaman is the Trope Codifier. Being the half-human son of Queen Atlanna of Atlantis, he would eventually become king and use his extraordinary powers to protect both species from anything that would threaten them, becoming a member of the Justice League of America. He's so popular, most (though not all) examples of this trope were deliberately made to be Stock Parodies of Aquaman, for better or for worse.
  • Captured on Purpose: Volume 3 opened with Atlantis conquered by evil giant jellyfish. Seeking a quick way into the city, Aquaman used his prison garb costume to his advantage and was quickly captured in a net... only to find the invaders had also rigged it with a charge of electricity. From there he leads La Résistance from prison.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The death of Aquababy marked a permanent shift in tone from the lighthearted early years.
  • The Chew Toy: 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 protector of a Sunken City of modern water breathers just to be forced to trade his humanoid looks and sanity to save them when they revert to air breathers, 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.
  • 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.
  • Depending on the Writer: Whether Aquaman outright controls fish, or if they just do as he says because he's the king of the ocean used to be an inconsistent aspect of the character, until Geoff Johns explicitly states the former to be his real power in the first issue of the New 52 series. Whether said control extends to seagulls or how effective (if at all) his powers are on non-aquatic life is still subject to changes.
  • Designated Victim: Garth and Tula's adventures often ended with one or both of them nearly dying due to lack of water, and in the Silver Age they were frequent kidnap victims.
  • 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.
    • In "JLA: Midsummer's Nightmare", the powerful villain Knowman has just punched Superman into orbit. He makes a crack along the lines of "You people have no idea the kind of pressure I've been under. Allow me to demonstrate," and increases gravity enough to knock the entire team, including Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman, to the floor, where they stay as he strides around monologuing. Until he makes the mistake of walking by Aquaman, who mutters "Pressure? Obviously, you've never been to the bottom of the sea!" before snagging him with his hook hand and yanking him to the floor.
  • Doing in the Scientist: In his first appearance, his powers manifested through scientific means.
  • 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.
    • Extends to Atlanteans as well in the early eras, who are often treated like a joke by humans and in one issue captured and forced to perform at an aquatic park, or be forced to die in the open air. It isn't until the late pre-Flashpoint era that either they or their Xebellian ilk pose a serious threat to the surface.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Only at the ends of both the pre-Flashpoint and New 52/Rebirth does Aquaman finally have something of a happy ending after being put through the wringer. The former case is understated, with Aquaman Back from the Dead and his relationship with Mera mending throughout Brightest Day, but with the rest of the original Aquafamily still dead. Rebirth #65 may not conclude their story, but we see Arthur and Mera living with their baby Andy at the Curry lighthouse, and them finally getting married.
  • 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.
    • Orm was 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.
  • Ethnicity Monarch: Arthur is the king of "All Marine Life", according to some interpretations of the character. His ability to talk to sea creatures is sometimes limited to how dependent said creatures are on water. So fish will heed his commands almost instantly while aquatic fowl may take a bit more coaxing. Some interpretations also say that the animals have the choice of refusing his commands if they're not happy with them, but most respect Aquaman as their champion.
  • 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.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • As a child, Aquaman was exiled from his home due to people with blonde hair being discriminated against in Atlantis, and later, for being half-human.
    • 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.
  • 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 Aquaman: 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.
  • Grief-Induced Split: Mera holds Aquaman accountable for their son's death, accusing him of putting his adventuring life ahead of his fatherly duties. Aquaman is asked to leave his son's funeral because of how upset his presence makes her. Their split is ultimately subverted, as Mera eventually chooses to reconcile with her husband and cope with their shared loss together.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Aquaman's father is a regular human, but his mother is Atlantean.
  • Happily Married: Aquaman and Mera, until the death of Aquababy. Finally once again at the end of Blackest Night when he comes back to life. Post Flashpoint, their relationship is retconned into being engaged. By the end of the Rebirth run (issue #65), they are finally married once again.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Aquaman's ability to summon sea creatures may sound unimpressive at first, but since all life on Earth (and several other planets) evolved from the sea, he can use his powers to tap into certain parts of their brain and exert control over them (though only one writer has allowed Aquaman to control humans with the same finesse as fish). Some incarnations of the character are shown to be able to telepathically manipulate even Cthulhu.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: If Aquaman: 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.
  • 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 the nicknames "Aquawife" and "Aquawoman" to be amusing during the '60s run, and a slight annoyance in the '90s, the New 52 marked the point she's shown to be completely fed up whenever people call her by anything but her real name.
  • Ironic Fear: In his earliest appearances, Aquaman's sidekick Aqualad suffered from a crippling fear of fish.
  • 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. If one looks past the tragic deaths of Dolphin and her daughter with Aqualad, Cerdian, 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.
  • Lazy Alias: Aquaman has had this as a character trait since the Golden Age of Comics, where he named himself Mr. Waterman while attending college and Seven-Seas Saunders upon spotting a seven-seas shipping company at the docks. Arthur Curry's names haven't been much better, as a Silver Age appearance had him use the alias "C. King" and reuse the Waterman last name when undercover, while Aquaman (2016) had him use "Aquaman" as a codename within Atlantis.
  • Lord of the Ocean: Aquaman is the monarch of a race of Superior Species in Atlantis and has telepathic control over all aquatic-life.
  • Love Redeems: Mera, as revealed during 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 underwater.
    • Mera, Garth and Kaldur can naturally manipulate water as if it was an extension of themselves.
  • Manly Facial Hair: Aquaman has a beard 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.
  • Masked Villains, Unmasked Heroes: Two of the unmasked Aquaman's most prominent enemies are Black Manta and Orm aka Ocean Master. Manta wears a helmet modeled after a manta ray while Orm wears a mask that covers the upper half of his face. Aquaman's face is always uncovered.
  • Meaningful Name: His name is Arthur Curry. As in, KING ARTHUR Curry.
  • Mermanity Ensues:
    • Aquaman is a Half-Human Hybrid, born to a human father and an Atlantian mother. He discovers his abilities at a young age, though his mother is not around in his life on account of some rather messy politics in Atlantis.
    • Most takes on the lost city of Atlantis where Aquaman rules sees the city sink to the bottom of the ocean, as in the myths, which results in its people altering their physiology in order to survive. Most of them are Apparently Human Merfolk, though there are traditional mermaids as well, and the series demonstrates that the fish are sentient (though only those with telepathy like Aquaman can communicate with them).
  • Mental Health Recovery Arc: The majority of Aquaman (1991) shows how Black Manta singlehandedly ruined Arthur's life by killing his son, which led to Mera leaving him. When not fighting past the point of exhaustion, Aquaman is lonely, depressed, and wonders how he can possibly move on from his past and find happiness again after all that's happened to him. After battling Black Manta and Thanatos, however, he's on the way to recovery as he lets go of his self-hatred, learns when to rest, and realizes Mera and Arthur Jr. would forgive him if he forgave himself.
  • Mobile Fishbowl: Aquaman has a special suit filled with water for missions on land. It ends up saving the life of Martian Manhunter in JLA: Tower of Babel.
  • Never Heard That One Before: In the first Justice League team-up episode on Smallville, 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.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Topo the Octopus in the comics and Fluke the Dolphin in Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
  • One Hero, Hold the Weaksauce: Not early on. He was certainly a tough fighter who could live indefinitely underwater and swim incredibly fast, but his ability to communicate with sealife and inability to spend extended amounts of time on the surface made him a laughingstock. Enter Geoff Johns, who did away with the latter limitation and also established that Arthur and other Atlanteans also had super durability and strength on land as well due to deep ocean pressure adaptation.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: There are three different distinct varieties of Atlantean in Aquaman's oceans. Poseidonians (the Apparently Human Merfolk like Aquaman and most of the other Atlanteans), Tritonaians (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.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Aquaman #54 is a moody horror story that has Aquaman trapped inside his own mind when some gangsters capture and experiment on him, resulting in a mash-up of genres—including horror, a standard action story, a detective story as the real-world police worked out what was going on, and a Western. The incident resulted in the birth of his evil mirror-self, Thanatos.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
    • Aquaman gave an enemy a seizure through tapping into their basal ganglia, remarking that he can do worse than just incapacitate.
  • 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.
  • Ruthless Modern Pirates: Black Manta is a pirate who operates submarines and other highly advanced watercrafts.
  • Seahorse Steed: Aquaman sometimes rides a giant seahorse named Storm in the Silver Age.
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic: Aquaman writers basically have three modes. Typical superhero adventures, underwater palace intrigue or Heroic Fantasy. Every time a new writer takes over there’s a roughly 50% chance that Arthur will meet a never before mentioned ancient magical being and either gain new powers or some supernatural mission.
  • Starter Villain: An unnamed Nazi commander who sent U-boats after civilians, and is killed via grenade at the end of the issue.
  • Super-Strength:
    • His super-strength is often underestimated. The 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.
  • Super Swimming Skills: Aquaman can swim at 150 knots, or 175 mph. Other comics show him reaching 10,000 feet per second, which is nearly mach 10.
  • Terrible Trio: A Silver Age issue had a villain trio literally called the Terrible Trio, consisting of the bossy, fire-haired Karla, who ordered her teammates around, the Fisherman, a returning rogue, and the Un-Thing, who was invisible while in water. While effective as a group when working together, they argued a lot and were eventually defeated.
  • Thematic Rogues Gallery: Most of Aquaman's enemies are involved with water and the ocean in one form or another.
  • Token Aquatic Race: The series generally averted this until the New 52, with the Apparently Human Merfolk Poseidonians, the mer-people Tritonians, and the unnamed Fish People being distinct from one another despite falling under the umbrella term of Atlanteans, as well as Mera originally coming from a Human Alien race of water-controlling people. They coexisted with each other alongside other DC beings until New 52 simplified the lore to make them all the same species and take a larger role on the world stage, making them come across as this.
  • Under City: There were originally seven lost cities that were once a part 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 myths 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.
  • Unexpectedly Dark Episode:
    • His Golden and Silver Age stories were breezy fun, with the exception of a story in Adventure Comics #192 where Aquaman creates a preserve for rare fish and is horrified when crooks start murdering the fish for their own gain. It has a happy ending as the fifth fish only pretended to be killed, but four fish were killed for real, and we see Aquaman's increasing sorrow and anger at the situation.
    • The storyline now called "Death of a Prince" began innocuously as Aqualad went missing on a quest for his family. Aquaman went to find him and found Black Manta had kidnapped him, Topo the octopus, and his toddler son Arthur Jr., which wasn't unusual for the time period or preceding stories. Then Manta revealed he'd encased the baby in air to suffocate and would force them to fight to the death to save him, and even after a solution was found, Arthur Jr. died.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Aquaman used to die if he wasn't in contact with water after an hour. This weakness has been removed.
  • Wham Episode: The death of Aquababy, Arthur Jr., changed the tone of the stories completely and had ramifications for decades as Aquaman dealt with grief and loss, his marriage fell apart and continued to have ups and downs as Mera blamed him for the child's death, Aqualad's relationship with Arthur was strained for a period, and Black Manta became cemented as his arch-nemesis for killing his son.

    Aquaman Volume 1 

    Aquaman Volume 2 

    Aquaman Volume 3 

    Aquaman Volume 4 

    Aquaman Volume 5 

    Aquaman Volume 6 

    Aquaman Volume 7 (New 52) 

    Aquaman Volume 8 (Rebirth) 

Alternative Title(s): Aqualad