About three months ago, we looked at the issues where Batman briefly gained Superman’s powers. Spoiler alert: it goes badly. In a weird (what’s the version of racism for those with superpowers?) power-ist way, those superheroes without anything extra shouldn’t gain the abilities that throw their systems into whack. Like Batman not doing stuff like sleeping or eating or anything not related to the eternal quest of solving every world’s problem. And today, his on/off-again girlfriend gets her turn with invincibility, super strength, etc. Luckily for readers, she’s also unstable and not emotionally healthy enough for anything above a leather outfit and a whip. We’ll read the excitement together within the pages of Catwoman #75-77, written by Will Pfeifer and drawn by David Lopez.
So in the miniseries Salvation Run, all the supervillains get rounded up and teleported to a different planet called Salvation. Bad guy problem officially solved — and everyone goes. From the Joker to Cheetah to Metallo to Deadshot to Captain Cold to Gorilla Grodd to Poison Ivy to Vandal Savage, etc. You get the idea; like eighty of them were captured and sent to Salvation. And they all would have stayed there miserably forever if Lex Luthor wasn’t teleported with him. Oh well. Anyway in the midst of all that, Catwoman stumbles onto some machine generator thingie and it transports her here:
That’s right — it’s an alternative Earth. To say that Catwoman’s mental state the past few years has been wavering would be an understatement. She lost pretty much her entire supporting cast, including her actual daughter and everything she ever owned or stole. So unlike Batman who sits on a stack of infinite money and loving allies, Catwoman doesn’t really have anything left to lose. So all that cat-and-mouse chase that I assume activates her lady boner’ll have to be put aside today.
Oh, and she totally did kill Black Mask. That’s another previous article of mine if you have a bunch of free time today. Now for the next five pages or so, she avoids rocket launchers, gunfire, and helicopters until she can action-movie-esque crash though a window. And Catwomen from every Earth and dimension are all so rude. I imagine a skintight uniform can only press against your diaphragm for so long before one’d be snippy with whoever comes across one’s path. Like a person at dinnertime who skipped breakfast and lunch.
What’s going on? This Catwoman can’t afford to repair her costume yet can afford to feed two grown panthers? Plus — while totally cool — a clawed up costume’s impractical. One good cartwheel and the costume tears open, exposing herself to whatever do-gooder she’s kicking in the face. While I do have many questions about what’s going on in this alternative-Gotham, most of them have to do with Catwoman’s costume. Like why is she wearing a dog collar? But now let’s watch our Catwoman discover something else about herself in this world:
Catwoman’s sister Maggie becomes a nun and eventually a crazy vengeful nun because of that Black Mask incident. The poor girl didn’t stand a chance when she arrived in Gotham. I figure anyone who comes to this city without at least a green belt in karate will be maimed or killed within weeks of arriving. Statistically speaking, anyway. Just like the Arkham Asylum doctor/guard fatality rate is in the high 90% range or the 100% chance Batman showing up at your abandoned dock right after you announced to your superstitious partner that he’s just an urban legend. But I did promise you superpowers today. I promise to deliver:
I’m stopping here today. Catwoman just realized in this world, she’s a more attractive Superman, which is a dream we all have. What’s going on with this Gotham? Is there a catch? Is she going to fight Batman, Superman, Flash, and Green Lantern at the same time? At least for the third question: hell yeah she is.
I know, it’s shocking that a billionaire with a bodybuilder’s physique and genius intellect would have so many paramours. But you should sit down, because I have one more to show you. The superheroes Batman and Zatanna (real name Zatanna Zatara) didn’t officially become childhood friends until 2007. Paul Dini redefined their relationship to go back a few extra decades, skipping all that stuff like spending twenty issues with a will-they-won’t-they-show-vulnerability-or-kiss scenario. Nope, all the awkwardness disappeared as soon as its revealed their parents were chummy. So today, partially to answer all those curious Batman fans and partially because articles about superhero relationships tend to get more hits (and I’m shameless), we’ll take a look at their potential coupling from Detective Comics #833-834, written by Paul Dini and drawn by Don Kramer as well as Detective Comics #843-845, written by Dini and drawn by Dustin Nguyen.
First, here’s the pivotal childhood friendship thingie I mentioned earlier:
Which brings us to that panel above. Turns out when supervillain Dr. Light learned about the Justice League’s family members, Zatanna mind-wiped him. Batman tried to stop her and she mind-wiped him too. So the two aren’t on great terms right now. Unfortunately, there’s some magician causing crime in Gotham City, so Batman has to call his former buddy to help out. Luckily, since Batman has always been one to wear his heart on his sleeve and discuss problems with his teammates in a rational and open environment — sorry, I’m thinking of Superman. Batman continues to be a jerk:
So Zatanna can come along to stop a magician as long she uses no magic, essentially making her a liability instead of any sort of asset. It’s like saying, Flash, we want you to stop this murderer, but please don’t run. You know exactly how this is going to go. Zatanna doesn’t, but that’s because she’s a wizard and not a psychic.
I’m not showing you this to build suspense. Obviously Zatanna doesn’t die and Batman breaks free in an overly dramatic fashion. But I have to show you this scene, if only because their friendship can’t be mended until Batman realizes that hey, it turns out everyone makes mistakes now and then. Except for Superman — he’s as perfect as he is good looking.
Batman may be a jerk, but morally he’s on the right track. Also, this is a man who has difficulty coping with emotional trauma — y’know like how his parents died so he started an eternal quest for justice while dressed as a bat. But at least Zatanna can take joy in Batman’s admission that, yes, occasionally he may also make a tiny, insignificant oopsie. Like as in him not trusting her because of justified proof that he shouldn’t. I’m Team Batman when it comes to the mind-wipe debate. But it’s Zatanna that makes this next scene so great:
Unclasp that hand from your heart. Y’see, while Batman needed to learn he could trust his friend again, Zatanna beat him to the punch — no matter their relationship, she never lost her trust in him. Boom, take that Batman. So with their friendship appropriately healed, the actual romantic stuff can begin. You’d think it’d be the slow build up a monthly serial would do, but Dini knows how busy you are. He gets right to the issue on everyone’s mind — will these two attractive superheroes do it? By it, I mean sex.
Flirting always get interrupted by bullets in the comic book universe. It’s a great story involving the new Ventriloquist/Scarface that has been building for a good five or six issues now. I’m skipping it, but as for the two dating? It’s a simple idea, it’d be accepted by fans, and Batman could use a post-coital smile every now and then after spending every night ripping away robbers from their crying victims. But everything comes down to Batman’s one defining trait that Zatanna has to come to terms with: he’s a mess. A gigantic, horrific mess of a person.
Sorry, everything’s been a tease. They don’t actually date. But we all know Batman would eventually break her magical heart — it’s always going to be Catwoman in the end. Because she’s also a mess. Another gigantic, horrific mess of a person. Those two deserve each other. No, seriously:
Honestly? Zatanna can do better than Batman. She’s not broken, and deep down, Batman needs someone to fix.
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!