Aquaman’s Sub Diego, Pt. 1

I know people laugh when they hear the name Aquaman.  The least useful member of the Justice League!  His superpowers involve putting saddles on seahorses!  I get it.  But Namor, the Marvel version of Aquaman, is well-received and well-loved.  What’s the difference?  Does Aquaman need to flirt with more married women?  Maybe the TV shows made Aquaman out to be a goof.  I don’t actually know, though he has been around since the early 1940s, and that’s impressive considering how many superheroes from that era have disappeared.

Y’see, our story, which takes place in the American Tidal arc from Aquaman #15-20, volume 6, written by Will Pfeifer and drawn by Patrick Gleason, involves not so much punching fish and swinging tridents as it does heroism and a search for the truth.  Please don’t immediately close your browser. I understand, you joke around about how dumb the whole idea of Aquaman is, but at least give me a chance to change your mind.  If not his water-based abilities, then his recognition and worthiness as a superhero.  Pretty please?  Look, this is literally the opening page of the arc:

That must have caught your interest, right?  C’mon, pandas don’t live in the water.

So one normal day, a massive earthquake destroys San Diego.  Half the city sinks and the loss of life is in the hundreds of thousands.  Aquaman arrives on the scene and is appropriately devastated.

Well, Aquaman can’t reverse underwater earthquakes.  Especially since it’s a natural disaster and not a psychotic supervillain with a tectonic plate ray gun.  It’s not like superheroes can stop problems like hurricanes or tsunamis.  Actually, I think Superman can.  The Flash too.  Batman probably has a tsunami gun on his bat-plane.  Either way, he just has to cry salty tears until one night a lead finally shows up.

A child is found on a beach coming from the opposite direction people normally do.  Sadly, he dies, but that’s okay because with the help of forensic scientists and our hero’s extensive fish knowledge, Aquaman figures out a terrible secret.

Because Aquaman is a card-carrying Justice League member, he has to address the city.  Also most likely because half the city disappeared and people would feel a little better if told a new revelation from a guy who can swim 90 miles per hour.  I’m not saying a public announcement is a good idea, but Gotham City would probably be better off if Batman every once in a while was like, “Hey, Mr. Freeze froze all the highways, so maybe drive a little bit slower these next few days.”

Of course, because comic book worlds are infinitely more exciting than real life, he gets interrupted.

Being the responsible superhero, he has Martian Manhunter warp him to the Justice League base on the moon before the girl suffocates.  For research purposes obviously, because it’d be way easier just to push her back in the ocean.

You want to see what Lorena saw?  Turns out she was on a date with her tattooed, but gentle and hard-working boyfriend when she saw pandas surfing a tidal wave.  More importantly, from her memories, Aquaman has his second major realization.

Like the police after a loved one dies, Aquaman, the leading authority figure in the ocean, has to break the news to the survivors of the earthquake.  Just as you and I would feel if a fish dude told us we’re forever stuck riding sharks and running jellyfish farms, the survivors are thrilled horrified.  Unfortunately, a superhero’s job isn’t just to capture Somali pirate whalers or take down rogue Nazi submarines.

Such as having a truck when friends want to move, possessing super strength and government connections makes Aquaman a very busy man.  After all, with great power comes great responsibility and blah blah blah.

But what kind of superhero comic would it be without some danger and conspiracy?  Y’see, Aquaman’s dolphin buddy alerted our hero about some weird device.  So Aquaman and Lorena go check it out.  She’s sort of the sidekick of this arc.

Can you guess the moment things get bad?  Yup, right now.

Mutated machine sea slug!  About time we saw one of those.

Cliffhanger!  We’re going to stop here today, because someone recently told me that people don’t have the time to read a thousand words and forty images every single day.  But tomorrow, Aquaman kicks lots of butt and we get our answers.   Who’s really behind this earthquake?  Are there any possible cures?  Why is Aquaman’s left hand made of water?  Two of those three will be revealed tomorrow. Hint: the first two.

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2 Comments on “Aquaman’s Sub Diego, Pt. 1”

  1. Lee says:

    I highly enjoyed Will Pfeifer’s brief run on Aquaman; I’ve wondered from time to time what made Will leave the title so quickly. Patrick Gleason thankfully continued on with the title for a little while longer if memory serves, but if those two had produced a few dozen issues together it could have been an all-timer of an Aquaman run. Anyone who enjoys superhero comics (DC in particular) should pick up the Sub Diego trade paperback right away. Thanks for reviewing this storyline, Jason!


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