Before we begin, here’s for my fellow Jews:
With Hanukkah acknowledged, let’s begin the real thing.
Today a single stoic tear rolls down my cheek as we’re ending our eleven part, month-long series of articles about everyone”s favorite (and the wettest) superhero. I’m serious this time. On Friday, it’s Batman. Y’see, as I was putting together the images for last time’s article about the whole piranhas eating Aquaman’s hand, I perused a bit of the next issue. And it’s awesome. And because it’s awesome, I’m going to beat this dead horse until it’s mushy and unrecognizable. To hush any naysayers who believe Superman would destroy Aquaman (and let’s be fair — 99 times out of a 100, he would), I present to you proof that Aquaman at least can hold his own. Spoiler alert: it involves water. Let’s take a look at a scene from Aquaman #3, written by Peter David and drawn by Gene Gonzales & Martin Egeland.
Remember how Aquaman just lost his hand like the final page of the issue before? Surprisingly, he’s taking the maiming pretty well considering.
So Aquaman spends the whole issue attempting to visit this Admiral Strom mentioned above. It turns out one of the Navy’s nuclear subs disappeared. And that makes Aquaman the best superhero for the job. Like the Air Force would call Hawkman or whatever. But since this is a comic book, nothing’s ever so easy as a simple meeting with a simple admiral. Also, it’d be a really short issue. Nope, you know the drill — there’s a misunderstanding that results in unnecessary punching. We’d expect nothing less.
Oh, Superboy is ’90s comic book perfection. So much ‘tude. Earring, leather jacket, sunglasses, horrific haircut. Originally premiering in 1993 as the Metropolis Kid (one of the four Superman replacements after Superman’s death), he now gets the honor of almost being hurt by Aquaman. Sure, the former Atlantean king has oodles of super strength, it’s just not enough to do stuff like injure a member of the Superman family. Aquaman can punch sharks into goo, but Superboy can do that to moons.
You can click the picture below for a larger version.
Superboy’s “ass” joke is clever and you should have chuckled to yourself when you read it. In summary, I greatly enjoy butt humor. So yes, Aquaman doesn’t stand a minnow’s chance of victory in a fistfight against Superboy. Of course he doesn’t. No one stands a chance against the Superman family in a fistfight. They punch moons into goo and all that. Luckily, there’s a few weaknesses to exploit — and it’s awesome:
That’s right, Aquaman doesn’t control water. But a whale army can. Surely, Superboy can freeze the tsunami with his super breath and then flick Aquaman into unconsciousness, right? Probably. But not this time. Ambush and whatnot. Also, that’s a crapload of water. Like this attack may actually change the ecosystem of the city. I know why I love Aquaman now. It’s because he can do stuff like this. Dude’s a badass.
The beard really does make his threats scarier, doesn’t it? Next time, Batman!
You’ve seen him parading around the oceans with that rockin’ hook of his (part of the Make Aquaman Cool Again Project of the 1990s), but how he lost that limb is just as important as him impaling dudes with a hook. Almost. To at least help you sleep a tiny bit easier tonight, let’s go over that fateful moment from Aquaman #2, written by Peter David and drawn by Marty Egeland. Notice this takes place in the very first arc of Aquaman’s newest volume. He already has a beard, soon followed by the lost hand, and it wraps up with the whole not-wearing-a-shirt-let-the-nipples-fly thing. Aquaman became the epitome of ’90 reinvention within the span of a few issues.
Oh, and the story so far: crazy people kidnap Aquaman and Dolphin so they can steal their powers.
Standard evil people stuff, right? Delusional self-confidence, long-winded monologue, sarcastic comment about their location and other basic monikers of crazy supervillains. But you have nothing to worry about — the insanity gets full-blown in the next few pages. There’s no need for subtlety when your costume consists only of shoulder pads. Watch our bad guy try to talk to fish:
So as you can figure, Aquaman and Dolphin escape, blow up the facility, wreck the baddie’s plans, and tie up all loose ends — all within ten or so pages. All that remains? The climactic battle against the evildoer who’s just lost everything, or the final fifteen minutes of Man of Steel. If you like blaring, sirens-blasting irony, check out Aquaman’s last words of the first page below:
Dolphin pops up with a one-liner and the bad guy loses. The end. Except I want you to take a moment and appreciate the pain Aquaman just went through. Y’see, bruises and cuts heal, but they don’t leave the emotional damage that this surely will. Dear readers, I present to you some superhero biology — the inside of Aquaman.
Right? I know I said we’re going to wrap up Aquaman today, but I lied. One more! It’s worth it.
Remember when Aquaman’s hand separated from his body? No, the second time. We pick up in the first pages of the very next issue. Look, it’s brutal — a bloody stump can only be good if you’re at the end of Empire Strikes Back. And luckily, this isn’t a permanent loss as he regains his hand within a few issues (White Lantern magic!) and the DC universe soon reboots to a point where he still has all his limbs. But for now, Aquaman’s arch-nemesis just scored some major supervillain points.
That’s right! Aqualad, who dramatically rescued Aquaman gets dramatically rescued by Mera! To fight an army, one’d need an army, right? So the queen of Atlantis went around to every corner and crevice of ocean to gather up every single remaining member of the Aqua-powered family. Which is only Aquagirl. Those other superheroes you’re reminded of from previous articles, like say the first Aqualad? Dead. The original Aquagirl? Dolphin? Dead. Vulko? Dead. Lagoon Boy? Coma. Only Topo survives, but he’s an octopus. It’s been a bummer of a decade for Aquaman’s supporting cast.
You can click the picture below for a larger version if you’d prefer.
Aquaman’s a badass. But more importantly, if you need proof that Mera’s the more powerful of the Atlantean super couple, it’s here in all its oceanic delight. You remember Captain Planet and how we made fun of the Heart guy because he could only control animals (and his power was called Heart and we were pre-pubescent morons)? Well, we were right. Controlling nature tends to be far more useful than controlling the things that live in it.
So I understand your concerns: 1) Aquaman hasn’t done anything cool at all this entire story, and 2) he hasn’t fought Black Manta despite the title of this article. I can help you with number one and I apologize about number two. Y’see, DC’s Brightest Day event comes right after Blackest Night — the zombie event when all the dead superheroes became super evil. Aquaman could summon his fish, but only gross dead fish. That problem still persists. As Aquaman saves the day with his awesome Aquaman powers, notice all the zombie fish. Coming back to life takes some time before all the kinks are worked out, y’know?
Of course they win. We end today, and just because I haven’t beaten this dead horse enough, there’s one final Aquaman story on Monday. I present to you this last picture as my State of Aquaman’s Marriage. Spoiler alert: it’s strong.
This is a safe place, right? I’m going to be honest: I like Aquaman, but I don’t know why. The whole ocean angle is cool, but there’s nothing particularly remarkable about the wettest superhero in the DC universe. Truthfully, I think half my enjoyment of his stories come solely from him stabbing people with a trident. Is it because his name is Arthur? But I’m trying, okay? I want this website to be a place of positivity instead of the flood of anger and rudeness that normally pours out of the comic book community, so I’ll do my best to fall in love with Aquaman. I won’t friend-zone him, I promise. And today (and Friday) certainly help his case.
Let’s take a look at his second big Aquaman fight from Brightest Day #19-20, written by Geoff Johns & Peter J. Tomasi and drawn by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, & Rob Hunter. Aqualad has a costume now, an official sidekick offer from Aquaman, and those cool water swords (sort of like sharp Super Soakers). Plus as you can tell, Aquaman has all the qualities of a great teacher:
This fight begins like all good Aquaman battles — the ocean climbs out of the surf to conquer the surface world. Only Aquaman can stop this invasion, but — as you’ll protest — he’s from the ocean himself! That’s right, dear readers, Aquaman fights against the sea itself to save these ungrateful normal land people. For the hundredth time. Still, I’d be lying if I didn’t enjoy the spectacle of shark monsters and water soldiers climbing onto a beach — like an evil majestic Normandy.
Notice how the mean lady looks similar to Mera? Meet Siren, Mera’s younger sister. They both come from the alien ocean world of Xebel, who wants to kill Aquaman for illegal riding whales or something. Look, I don’t do as much research as I should. What’s important is Aquaman and Aqualad stand alone against an army of bad guys.
Seriously, I think it’s only Superman and Batman (and maybe Flash) who are the only DC superheroes who don’t kill. Wonder Woman’s slain more dudes than most supervillains, and Green Lantern has space-blasted hordes of aliens in his travels. Even Aquaman doesn’t really have much of an issue with open threats of murder.
But luckily for our protagonist, Aquaman just came back to life a few months before this. Everything’s cool again — all his body parts are in the right spot and he’s back in his normal outfit again. Life’s going to turn around for our sea king just as soon as he takes out Siren and her goons. It’s not as if something horrifically traumatic and disfiguring would happen to him now. The writers have to wait for low sales before resorting to anything dramatic. Breathe easy, my friends. Aquaman’s going to be okay.
Y’see? That’s how a supervillain makes an entrance. For Black Manta to have just the right amount of delusional ego, it must occasionally be peppered with small successes along the way. Like killing Aquaman’s kid. Or chopping off Aquaman’s hand. And just like all perfect attacks, I present to you the perfect one-liner:
Next time: the fate of Aquaman. Anything can happen now! The gloves are off (literally)! I’m excited too!
The moments before the DC reboot were certainly bright. As in they had a series called Brightest Day that brought to life a bunch of dead characters just before the reboot made that unneccesary. Luckily for everything wet, Aquaman gets to be one of those fortunate few to come back from the dead. He died a few years before, it’s complicated, and I’m skipping that life (death?) event. But before he gets to do things like enjoy himself and be happy, he has a few loose ends to tie up. Like Black Manta in Brightest Day #10-11, written by Geoff Johns & Peter J. Tomasi and drawn by Ivan Reis, Scott Clark, Patrick Gleason, & Joe Prado.
Oh, and apparently, Mera’s first appearance was retconned so that she was actually an assassin who fell in love with her target. There, you’re all caught up, but it needs to be discussed so Mera can swim away. How can Aquaman get back his self-esteem with his more powerful wife at his side?
You guys remember the Young Justice cartoon? I know you’re upset it got cancelled. But most importantly, the series introduced the new Aqualad (Jackson Hyde or Kaldur’ahm depending on comics or TV). So to keep comics and TV equal(ly flushed with money), we get this kid formally premiering:
Kind of a spoiler, but I’m going to tell you anyway: Black Manta is Aqualad’s father. Much like other supervillains, he’s an awful father, always trying to kill his offspring and other bad-parent things. Unlike Aquaman, our new teenage superhero has powers more like Mera, which is the whole controlling water as opposed to the creatures that live in it. And to kill two birds with one stone, Black Manta’s suit gives him the normal super strength, durability, and a delightful horde of weapons to shoot at civilians. Oh, and a laser face mask. The basic stuff.
Look, I know Aquaman hasn’t even shown up yet. You’re looking down the barrel of ten Aqualad pages, and our title protagonist hasn’t shown one gill or fin. Well, don’t you worry — you know superheroes. He’s waiting for the most dramatic moment possible to pop up and begin pounding his arch-nemesis. But does he still stand a chance without his hook hand or cool beard or devil-may-care attitude?
The trident’s a nice touch, though I guess it’s sort of a quin-dent with five prongs. Please take a moment in the next few pages and admire Black Manta’s incredible boasting. Aquaman outclasses him in every area of combat (I guess except in laser face masks), and our bad guy still prattles on like he’s not fighting a dude who can shrug off bullets and lift tanks.
Am I the only one who doesn’t see the big deal about Mera’s confession? Sure, she may have originally planned to kill him, but she also married him a few times, popped out a few of his children, and ruled Atlantis for years with Aquaman at her side. And let’s be fair — Mera has tried to kill Aquaman many times in their relationship, so who cares about the non-first time she was supposed to? Is it about keeping secrets? You know who doesn’t have time for these games anymore? Damn right, Aquaman.
We’re not done with Brightest Day! Get ready for beach warfare next time as Aquaman, Mera, Aqualad, and Aquagirl team up to fight other people who have water-themed powers!
It’s time for newly shaven, suave Aquaman to go reclaim his ex-wife. He rocks a bejeweled headband, a cool new vest, and enough bracelets sure enough for Mera to swoon over and fall back in love. That’s how relationships work. As we left off last time, Mera came back to normal Earth after an extended stay raising her son in the alternative dimension Netherworld ocean. But with her new man-elf squid-tree boyfriend Noble, Aquaman’s going to have to fight to win her back — and not his normal method of punching. Look, I love Aquaman, but he lacks a lot of useful traits that makes a women want to be with him (like say, charisma), so let’s see how his abs do.
Poor Aquaman. It’s not going to be very easy, or else I wouldn’t have needed a second part. I guess it makes sense that her wedding dress is a bikini/scarf combo, as I imagine a more ornate dress wouldn’t do well underwater, but we should admire Mera for as I’m now coining this brand-new phrase, “doing her own thing.” Mera’s a strong, independent woman, gosh darn it.
We all liked his beard. No matter what side you take in this Aquaman/Mera relationship drama, we can all agree on the beard. Luckily, because Aquaman has stuff like abs, royalty, superpowers, etc., he rebounds immediately. Like in the exact same issue Mera decides they should just be friends. And thus begins seven issues of Mera exclaiming “I’m in love with both of these men!” and Aquaman attempting to do normal stuff he’s not great at, like make jokes and not be super jealous.
I’m not joking about Mera voicing her dilemma for seven issues. I’ve included more of her soul searching below. But more importantly, Aquaman’s rebound girl doesn’t work out, and not just because the title of our article today gives away the spoiler that Aquaman and Mera get back together. No, there’s a good reason why. One that I never want you to forget as long as you live. Remember that for all of Aquaman’s accomplishments (ex. saving the world), he dated this woman:
In a plot twist I’m not going to properly explain, Aquaman’s mother comes back from the grave.
Look, I’ll be honest with you: their actual reconciliation is fairly anti-climactic. We all pretty much knew what was happening, but Aquaman, Noble, and Mera fight some water demons, Noble gets hurt, and Mera changes her mind. That’s it. You’ll be thinking I’m skipping some important pages, but I’m not. So for your information and eventual Aquaman fan site, I present to you the moment they became husband and wife for a second time. And have never broken up since.
When a couple gets remarried, it’s not official until that special moment the two bone in a palace while fish try to explain sex to each other. As we end today, I hope you once again believe in love again. That’s always been my primary goal. Talking about comics is a distant second. We’re not done with Aquaman yet! One more article on Monday!
It took nine years to get these two back together after their marriage imploded, not that Aquaman stayed chaste or faithful or didn’t nail hordes of beautiful sea-women. But in 1998, thus began the fifteen issue long will-they-or-won’t-they games that elevate comic books to essentially soap operas with punching. Don’t get angry — we love the drama (and the punching). So today we begin their journey back in love from various scenes in Aquaman #47-62, written by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Erik Larson, Chris Eliopoulos, & Gary Carlson and drawn by J. Calafiore, Eric Battle, & Mike Miller. Also note the massive amount of writers and artists if you detect any tone changes.
Currently, an Aquaman impostor has invaded Atlantis. I bring this up just to prove Mera’s old claim wrong. For this fake Aquaman to look exactly like younger, non-jaded Aquaman, our king’s genes must be overwhelmingly strong.
Talk about going into the family business. AJ, who is now definitely Aquaman and Mera’s son, can’t survive outside of his home dimension. It’s why you’ve never heard of him despite being an actual child of a famous superhero. I mean, you know Damian Wayne because he can do things like survive outside of an alien alternative dimension water world. Some kids get all the luck. Aquaman and his son head to the other dimension to rescue Mera. I’m skipping the two issue war stuff. Our hero hits spaceships with tridents.
And thus AJ never shows up in comics again. In the mid-2000s, a man named Arthur Joseph (AJ) Curry becomes the second Aquaman, but he’s unrelated to this one. Happy ending, right? Husband and wife are back together and I can end today satisfied. Except for one slight problem — something all the fish telepathy in the world can’t solve.
Turns out both of them cheated on each other, voiding their Atlantean marriage. On land, they’d still have to file some paperwork and stare bitterly at each other in court, but it’s much simpler underwater. As you expect, Aquaman doesn’t take this news well. He has anger issues. Even worse, Mera goes off and gets herself a new boyfriend named Noble, who sort of looks like a squid-tree man-elf. As Dolphin explains the reason why in the pages below — as writers attempt to overcompensate the world’s mockery by making Aquaman edgier and hairier, he lost all that charm he apparently once had. Most importantly, check out Noble and Mera’s idea of a wedding dress. For how cold the oceans are, how come no one ever puts on any clothes?
So what is Aquaman’s solution to his problem? Definitely not show her the dashing and heroic Aquaman of the past. No, that would take effort he’s not going to put forth to reclaim something (or someone) that was always his to begin with. Steal from the thief, so to say. You’re about to witness a pivotal moment in Aquaman’s history — tell your grandkids that you once read a story where Aquaman did this:
That’s right. He shaved off his beard. Will that be enough? We’ll find out next time!