Welcome to the 2021 A to Z Challenge! My theme this year is DC Comics. And that’s mostly because of my undying affection for the comic book characters and stories that I grew up reading in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. So stay tuned all month to (maybe) learn a little something about 26 corners of the DC Multiverse.
For the first entry in this year’s challenge, I figured we’d start out with an easy one: Aquaman.
Okay, it’s possible that Aquaman is the obvious choice for a DC Comics character beginning with the letter A. I could have gone with Animal Man (a guy who I’m pretty sure talks to animals), Amazo (an android who can duplicate the powers of everyone in the Justice League), or Aqualad (Aquaman’s sidekick). I kid… there are actually a bunch of characters that fall under the letter A. But let’s just get going with the rightful King of Atlantis.
If you saw the 2018 Aquaman film starring Jason Momoa as the title hero, there’s a good chance you know just as much about Aquaman as I do. Because even though Aquaman is typically one of the more recognizable members of the Justice League, he’s not a character whose adventures I closely followed when I was a kid.
I mean… How do you make Aquaman exciting for a kid who only has so much money to spend on comics. I mean, if you had to choose between the latest issues of Aquaman or Superman, which are you going with? If you said Aquaman, you’d be wrong.
Sure, I always knew who Aquaman was because even before I was reading comics, I was watching cartoons. And Aquaman was a standout character on the animated Super Friends series. He’s the blonde guy in the orange scaly shirt and green pants who liked to ride around on a giant seahorse and carry a trident. And, of course, he talked to fish.
To be fair, he communicates with all sea life. But it’s just easier to say he talks to fish.
His real name is Arthur Curry and he’s the son of the Atlantean Queen Atlanna and a lighthouse keeper who is from the surface world. That much of Aquaman’s origin you can get from the movie. And it’s about all I actually know about his origin, too.
The origin has probably changed a time or two over the years. DC loves their reboots.
In the early 90s, when I was really getting into comics, I remember seeing in-house ads for then current Aquaman comics. And DC did their very best to make Aquaman as edgy and grungy as possible. Because, hey, it was the 90s. To do this, they had him lose his left hand and replaced it with a harpoon. I’m pretty sure he could eventually shoot the harpoon and retract it back to his arm.
After (I think) roughly a decade of having a harpoon for hand, Aquaman was given a magical hand made of (and please don’t quote me on this) hard water. As far as I’m aware, Aquaman is not some sort of water bender. That’s not in his power set. But this magical hand made of water could be liquid or solid whenever Arthur needed it to be either. I imagine that made getting dressed in the morning a lot easier. Could you imagine how many of those orange shirts Arthur ripped because of that harpoon? Maybe that’s why they switched to him being shirtless most of the time.
Most of my exposure to the King of Atlantis was thanks to his inclusion in the Justice League. But I don’t recall him getting much character development there. I also remember him being instrumental in the DC versus Marvel crossover in which he was forced to fight Namor the Sub-Mariner, who is basically Marvel’s answer to Aquaman. Aquaman won that fight by dropping a killer whale on Namor. But it does beg the question: which character was created first? Which won is a rip off of the other?
Wait… I’ll Google it… It’s lazy to ask questions like that these days when the answer is clearly a few clicks away.
Aquaman was first introduced in More Fun Comics #73 in November, 1941. Namor’s first published appearance was in Marvel Comics #1 in October, 1939. So there you have it… Aquaman is the more successful rip off of Namor the Sub-Mariner. I say more successful because, come on, where is the Namor movie?
But, really, who would have ever thought that Aquaman would be on the big screen before The Flash?
Okay, that’s gonna do it for this post on Aquaman. Did I leave anything important out? Are you a fan of Jason Momoa’s Aquaman? What would you do if you could talk to fish? Let me know down in the comments!