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YMMV / Aquaman

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  • Arc Fatigue: A common complaint about the King Rath storyline of the Rebirth run. While the writing as a whole is solid and most of the artists working on the book have been great (particularly Stjepan Šejić), many have decided to just wait for the trade since it's taking so damn long to end. It doesn't help that before the storyline began Aquaman was shipping bi-monthly but started shipping an issue a month once the arc started, which didn't help the story's pacing compared to the rest of the run.
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  • Audience-Alienating Era: Cullen Bunn's run on the New 52 title. The story is generic pulp fiction which Bunn himself even admits did not suit the character. At the same time, it also did its best to undo all the work the Johns and Parker runs did before it. Arthur is now hated by Atlanteans again despite the entirety of Johns' run focusing on his gaining acceptance. Mera is how hunting Arthur, destroying all the development their relationship went through in both previous runs, particularly Parker's. Literally none of the supporting cast return, not even Tula, who had been consistently used since being introduced. Arthur now has weird powers like teleportation thanks to Poseidon, who literally no Atlantean before this run made mention of, and who Arthur outright denied the existence of over in JLA. The reveal that Mera has an evil twin sister is laughed at for its incredible soap drama-esque nature. The mere cover of the first issue pissed fans off for very obviously trying to incorporate aspects of the movie design in with Arthur's classic look, the result being an incredibly ugly costume. One of the only redeeming factors of the entire thing was introducing the New 52 Garth (though this also ignores Johns' run which mentions him being a newborn), and even then, Bunn didn't do anything with him, and this was likely Executive Meddling since DC began pushing the original Teen Titans at this time (complete with their own miniseries), meaning anyone could've done it. The other is Mera breaking out on her own and declaring that she doesn't need to be saved by Aquaman, but will gladly fight by his side. The backlash to Bunn's run was so strong that Bunn wanted to leave the book before his first issue even shipped, and was convinced to at least finish his arc by his editor.
  • Broken Base:
    • The beard and hook hand. Some prefer the clean cut look, while others prefer his bearded, Viking/pirate look. Some people prefer the beard but find the hook hand a step too far.
    • In general, the attempts to move the character towards "badass Aquaman" and trying to actively combat his image as a Memetic Loser—perhaps best personified by the first arc of the New 52 era, which had Aquaman explaining at length to people in-universe that he's a powerful, effective hero who does not "talk to fish." Some fans consider it a moment long coming and a thing that people who dislike the character should consider mandatory reading, others view it as trying far too hard to overcorrect to the point of reflecting insecurity in the character's concept.
    • In the Dan Abnett run, Mera adopting the identity of Aquawoman and wearing a version of Arthur's outfit. Some think it removes her identity and reduces her to a Distaff Counterpart to Aquaman, and doesn't fit the character. Others think it's a good look for her and it'll allow her to move beyond being just a supporting character for Arthur. Abnett seems to be aware of it, as Mera and Arthur themselves think the name is lame, and they admit to it being a marketing gimmick, albeit one that humans seem to like. She ditches the costume by the Rebirth series and even calls it embarrassing.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Post-Crisis:
      • Black Manta, real name David, makes his living as a brutal pirate, often in the employ of others, and is obsessed with destroying Aquaman at all costs. To this end, Manta killed Aquaman's infant son by trapping him in a chamber that suffocated the boy, despite Arthur's best efforts to save him. Manta continues to torment his nemesis by targeting and murdering those he can. Not even Manta's own family is exempt from his cruelty: his own son, the new Aqualad, was the target of Manta's wrath when Manta attempted to murder him with zealous hatred, for no other reason than rejecting the path Manta wanted for him. In Brightest Day, Manta tries to go straight, opening up a fish market, but when the customers rejoice that Aquaman is alive, Manta murders them with a knife, before burning down his own house and resuming his quest for vengeance. Manta is a vicious, hateful murderer who would poison the entire ocean just for the chance to hurt his nemesis.
      • Prime Minister Hagen, "the Heinous", is the leader of a caste of sorcerous Atlanteans who came to power during the rule of Gamemnae who weasels his way into control of all Atlantis. Hagen exiles Aquaman to die upon the Traitor's Reef, drugging his wife Empress Mera into catatonia to use her as a figurehead ruler and purging any part of the populace that didn't agree to his xenophobic rule, even ordering Dolphin and her infant son murdered solely due to their connection to Aquaman. Hagen dabbles in dark sorcery to mutate sea life into twisted abominations—-even fusing some of them with falsely-accused convicts—-planning to use an army of them to spill up from the ocean and eradicate all surface life.
    • Rebirth: Corum Rath is an Atlantean terrorist who leads the Deluge. Imprisoned for attempting to sink huge swaths of the US, Rath is later freed, overthrowing Arthur Curry to become Atlantis's new monarch. Ruling as a mad tyrant, Rath steadily grows more and more unhinged, even trying to have the 9th district of Atlantis burnt and purged to kill all the mutant sea-touched innocents there. Finally succumbing entirely to lust for power, Rath unleashes the Abyssal Dark, a demon long sealed below Atlantis and embraces its power, carrying out its suggestion to attempt to sink Atlantis itself and kill all its inhabitants, sacrificing his humanity in his lust for power.
  • Crosses the Line Twice
    • Black Manta lying to Aquaman that autism is to blame for his evil acts and getting him to cure it is seen as one of the pettiest things the character has ever done and cemented his dickery to his fans.
    • There was also the time Manta let Aquaman beat him up in front of a crowd to make him look like a racist for beating up an unarmed black man. This works because apparently, no one in the crowd have ever heard of Manta. It's so ludicrous one can't help but be amused.
  • Fandom-Enraging Misconception: A general one for DC Comics fans, but a major one for fans of the character himself, is the misconception that he is a weakling outside of water. The guy has numerous powers beyond just talking to fish and is more than just his Superfriends incarnation. Even the writers get enraged by this misconception, having gone to numerous lengths to show he is one of the more powerful heroes.
  • Fan Nickname:
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Mera wearing the Aquawoman outfit as a show of good faith despite her annoyance towards the nickname. Come Future State, her now adult daughter Andy is called Aquawoman, wearing a somewhat similar outfit.
  • Iron Woobie: Both Arthur and Mera are stuck between two worlds, estranged from their biological parents and/or considered a traitor to their homeland (definitely in Mera's case with Xebel), put up with everything from assassination attempts and Cthulhu-scale threats, and face frequent distrust from surface and undersea dweller alike. And yet they both remain heroic throughout and are rewarded with the goodwill of Arthur's hometown of Amnesty Bay, the Justice League, and a happy, loving marriage with their new daughter Andy.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Atlanna in the New 52. She was forced to leave her beloved husband and infant son, marry an abusive dickhead and have his child. Her second husband told her he had tracked down and had Tom and Arthur murdered. Believing that she had no reason to stay in Atlantis, she faked her death and fled to a hidden island with a handful of outcasts and undesirables, only to years later learn that Arthur and Tom had not been killed and she could have gone back to them. She initially refuses to believe Arthur is who he says he is and tries killing him multiple times even though he came in peace and even saved her from the Volcano God Karaku, her island's main occupant because that means admitting that it was All for Nothing and she missed out on decades with him.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • During the 2000s run in an Ostrander Aquaman was described by several people. Each one described him in a different way: an even grittier version of the Scraggy Bearded Barbarian of the '90s; the old, clean cut Aquaman of the '60s with an extended Aquafamily; a powerful humanoid composed of water and as a perfect lover.
    • Mera, instead, in Johns' 2011 series discovers to her utter dismay that the large public knows her as Aquawoman, a red haired mermaid who gains human legs whenever she's dry.
  • Memetic Loser: Aquaman often gets hit with this, mostly due to his memetic Superfriends incarnation. We even named a trope for the inane hoops one has to jump through to make Aquaman's hyper-specific skill set seem useful in a team setting. Though he's more or less shed this due to the public being introduced to his more badass interpretations (such as his appearances in Injustice: Gods Among Us and the DC Extended Universe).
  • Never Live It Down:
    • His stint in the Superfriends cartoon means that even now he's still known as the useless one.
    • Aquaman attempting to cure Black Manta's autism Explanation  (to no difference) will forever go down in history as either one of DC's most unintentionally hilarious moments or an exercise in poor taste. It's even implied that Black Manta was faking it and that the autism backstory Aquaman heard was a lie.
  • My Real Daddy:
    • Aquaman dates back to the Golden Age, but it was Robert Bernstein who gave him his most iconic backstory as the son of an Atlantean woman named Atlanna and lighthouse keeper Tom Curry; and Nick Cardy and Bob Haney who came up with characters synonymous with him such as Mera, Black Manta, the Ocean Master and Tula.
    • Phil Jimenez has this reputation in regards to Garth, since he was the one who gave him the Tempest name and power upgrade.
    • Geoff Johns seems to be acquiring some of this now thanks to his successful relaunch of the character in the New 52.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • The Trench. When you realize that we still have no idea just what lives in the bottom of the ocean, there's an equal chance that those things may or may not be real.
    • The Sub-Diego arc. Imagine yourself and/or your loved ones) getting caught in a massive earthquake plunging you and the entire city around you into the sea. You awaken, trapped beneath rubble, to find yourself still somehow alive, despite being submerged for days, before being rescued and informed that you have somehow developed gills, meaning that you can't return to the surface, and you will have to start life all over again underwater, which at best, would be a lot more boring in many ways, but at worst, well, you'd be in the path of whatever rogue or seafaring mutant Aquaman has to deal with. And that's if you were lucky enough to not be one of the hundreds of thousands of casualties. And then a year laternote  after you've somewhat adapted, the gills revert while you're still submerged, causing you to start drowning.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • The concept of giving a Half-Atlantean hero a Race Lift to become full Atlantean was previously seen with Namor expy Prince Triton in The Fantastic Four.
    • Also, Mera losing her ability to breathe water in the 2016 Rebirth series happened in the final pre-Flashpointnote  series.
  • One True Pairing: Arthur has had a few love interests (or at the very least Ship Tease) over the years, but for all their ups and downs, Mera is his true love.
  • Parody Displacement: Many more people are aware of Mermaidman & Barnacleboy than they are of the 1960s Filmation Aquaman series it was an Affectionate Parody of.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis is universally considered one of the worst videogames ever created. So bad it even inspired its own special category for awful video games on gaming show X-Play: The "Golden Mullet Award".
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: DC has been trying to change the public perception of the character since Superfriends came out. Amongst many hardcore comics fans, it's worked (particularly with Peter David's run), but as far as pop culture as a whole is concerned, he's still mostly seen as a joke character.
    • His incarnation from Batman: The Brave and the Bold actually managed to get fans and become one of the show's most popular characters.
    • The Justice League incarnation of Aquaman has many fans, for being a legitimate badass who could go toe-to-toe with the League's best. His absence in the show's final season is even seen as a major negative.
    • The Smallville version got a pilot for a live action television spin-off after the numbers for the fifth season revealed that his debut episode was the most watched episode of the season.
    • The New 52 reboot addresses a lot of common misconceptions about Aquaman, granting him a big boost in appreciation without having to resort to stereotypical badass aspects like the harpoon hand and beard.
    • Aquaman's appearances in Injustice: Gods Among Us and its sequel were very well-received, both for his portrayal as a Reasonable Authority Figure and his stylistic Super Moves, which showcase the true extent of his powers by having him command an army of sharks and abyssal monsters.
    • His appearance in the DC Extended Universe has been very well-received, as it shows him fighting on equal ground with other heroes and generally being a badass. The fact that he's played by Jason Momoa certainly helps. Given the fact that the solo film helmed by James Wan has become the highest-grossing DC superhero movie in January 2019, there is good reason to believe his reputation has recovered once and for all.
  • Tear Jerker:
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Lorena Marquez, the second Aquagirl prior to Flashpoint. Debuting in the Sub Diego arc, she was one of the more memorable characters, and would later join the Teen Titans, and showed up in Aquaman's story in Brightest Day, alongside the debut of fellow minority replacement sidekick Jackson Hyde, the new Aqualad. But whereas the latter would eventually reappear post-Flashpoint as a Teen Titan and ally of Aquaman, Lorena would not reappear in the New 52/Rebirth continuity. (She only makes a cameo as part of the Multiversity.)
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: It’s not hard to root for Orm, or at least feel sorry for him, in most of his appearances. DC seems to be trying to counteract this by limiting his exposure and occasionally having him commit acts of random brutality.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Atlanna had good reason to be wary of Atlanteans finding her hidden isle, but that does little to excuse her multiple attacks on her son Arthur, who came in peace to finally reconnect with her. She doesn't even apologize for nearly killing him, even though he saved her from the Volcano God Karaku.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: In "Death of a King", Murk and Tula venture into the surface, hoping to free Orm from his prison and restore him to power. Unfortunately, after much build-up, this plot goes nowhere: As soon as the two reach Belle Reve, they receive a distress call from Atlantis, causing them to immediately abandon their operation and return home.