Art by Alex Ross.
|Created by||Mort Weisinger (writer)
Paul Norris (artist) Kessler Jones (art director)
|Alter ego||Arthur Curry/Orin|
|Place of origin||Atlantis|
|Team affiliations||Justice League|
|Notable aliases||King of the Seven Seas, The Dweller-in-the-Depths, Aquatic Ace, Marine Marvel|
|Cover to Aquaman #1 by Nick Cardy, Jan-Feb 1962|
|Series publication information|
|Format||(vol. 1, 4-7): Ongoing series
(vol. 2-3): Limited series
|Publication date||(vol. 1)
January 1962 – August 1978
February – May 1986
June – October 1989
December 1991 – December 1992
August 1994 – January 2001
February 2003 – December 2007
September 2011 – Present
|Number of issues||(vol. 1): 63
(vol. 2): 4
(vol. 3): 5
(vol. 4): 13
(vol. 5): 77
(vol. 6): 57
(vol. 7): 17 (as of March 2013 cover date)
Jack Miller, Steve Skeates, David Michelinie, Paul Kupperberg
Robert Loren Fleming
Peter David, Erik Larsen, Dan Jurgens
Nick Cardy, Jim Aparo, Don Newton
Martin Egeland, Jim Caliafore, Eric Battle, Steve Epting
Ivan Reis, Paul Pelletier
Aquaman is a superhero who stars in many comic book titles by DC Comics. Created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger, the character debuted in More Fun Comics #73 (November 1941). Initially a backup feature in DC's anthology titles, Aquaman later starred in several volumes of a solo title. During the late 1950s and 1960s superhero-revival period known as the Silver Age, he was a founding member of the Justice League of America. In the 1990s Modern Age, Aquaman's character became more serious than in most previous interpretations, with storylines depicting the weight of his role as king of Atlantis. Later accounts reconciled both facets of the character, casting Aquaman as serious and broody, saddled with an ill reputation and struggling to find a true role and purpose beyond his public side as a deposed king and a fallen hero.
Fictional character biography
Aquaman's first origin story was presented in flashback from his debut, narrated by the character himself:
In his early Golden Age appearances, Aquaman could breathe underwater and control fish and other underwater life for up to a minute. Initially, he was depicted as speaking to sea creatures "in their own language" rather than telepathically, and only when they were close enough to hear him (Within a 20 yard radius). While he was often described as the "Useless One," because of his pathetic ability to barely control the sea creatures, the title was widely accepted. Aquaman's adventures took place all across the world, and his base was "a wrecked fishing boat kept underwater," in which he lived in shame.
During his wartime adventures, most of Aquaman's foes were Nazi U-boat commanders and various Axis villains. The rest of his adventures in the 1940s and 1950s had him dealing with various sea-based criminals, including modern-day pirates such as his longtime archenemy Black Jack, as well as various threats to aquatic life, shipping lanes, and sailors.
Aquaman's adventures continued to be published in Adventure Comics through the 1940s and 1950s, as one of the few superheroes to last through the 1950s in continuous publication. Starting in the late 1950s, new elements to Aquaman's backstory were introduced, with various new supporting characters added and several adjustments made to the character, his origins, his powers, and persona. The first of these elements was the story "Aquaman's Undersea Partner" in Adventure Comics #229 (October 1956), where his octopus sidekick, Topo, was first introduced. This and subsequent elements were later (after the establishment of DC's multiverse in the 1960s) attributed to the Aquaman of Earth-One.
In Adventure Comics #260 (May 1959) and subsequent Silver Age comics, it was revealed that Aquaman was Arthur Curry, the son of Tom Curry, a lighthouse keeper, and Atlanna, a water-breathing outcast from the lost, underwater city of Atlantis. Due to his heritage, Aquaman discovered as a youth that he possessed various superhuman abilities, including the powers of surviving underwater, communication with sea life, and tremendous swimming prowess. Eventually, Arthur decided to use his talents to become the defender of the Earth's oceans. It was later revealed that he had, in his youth, adventured as Aquaboy and met Superboy (Earth's only other publicly active superpowered hero at the time) on one occasion. When Arthur grew up, he called himself "Aquaman".
It was later revealed that after Atlanna's death, Tom Curry met and married an ordinary human woman and had a son named Orm Curry, Aquaman's half-brother. Orm grew up as a troubled youth in the shadow of his brother, who constantly bailed him out of trouble with the law. He grew to hate Aquaman not only for the powers that he could never possess but also because he believed that their father would always favor Aquaman. Orm disappeared after becoming an amnesiac and would resurface years later as Aquaman's archnemesis, Ocean Master.
Aquaman's ability to talk with fish eventually expanded to full-fledged telepathic communication with sea creatures even from great distances and he was also retroactively developed a specific weakness akin to Superman's vulnerability to kryptonite or Green Lantern's vulnerability to the color yellow: Aquaman had to come into contact with water at least once per hour, or he would die (prior to this story Aquaman could exist both in and out of water indefinitely.)
Allies and foes
Aquaman was included in the Justice League of America comic book series, appearing with the team in their very first adventure, and was also a founding member of the team. Aquaman took part in most of the 1960s adventures of the superhero team.
Aquaman's supporting cast and rogues gallery soon began to grow with the addition of Aqualad, an outcast, orphaned youth from an Atlantean colony whom Aquaman takes in and begins to mentor. Aquaman later discovered the submerged fictional city of New Venice, and which also became Aquaman's base of operations for a time.
Aquaman was recognized as the son of Atlanna and was later voted to be the King after the death of the former regent, who had no heirs. By this time Aquaman had met Mera, a queen from a water-based dimension, and married her shortly after he had become king. They soon had a son, Arthur, Jr. (nicknamed "Aquababy").
The 1960s series introduced other such archenemies as the Ocean Master (Aquaman's amnesiac half-brother Orm), Black Manta, the Fisherman, the Scavenger, and the terrorist organization known as O.G.R.E.. Other recurring members of the Aquaman cast introduced in this series include the well-meaning but annoying Quisp (a water sprite); Dr. Vulko, a trustworthy Atlantean scientist who became Aquaman's royal adviser and whom Aquaman eventually appoints to be king after leaving the throne himself; and Tula (known as "Aquagirl"), an Atlantean princess who was Aqualad's primary love interest.
End of an Era
In the mid-1980s, after his own feature's demise, Aquaman was briefly made the leader of the Justice League of America. In a storyline told in Justice League of America #228-230, an invasion of Earth by a race of Martians occurred at a time when the core members were missing. Aquaman was thus forced to defend Earth with a League much-depleted in power and capability, and he took it upon himself to disband the Justice League altogether in Justice League of America Annual #2 (1984), thereafter reforming it with new bylaws requiring members to give full participation to the League's cases. With the help of Martian Manhunter, Zatanna, and Elongated Man, veteran Justice League members willing to fully commit to the team, Aquaman recruited and trained four new and untried members, Gypsy, Vibe, Vixen, and Steel, also relocating the team's headquarters to a reinforced bunker in Detroit, Michigan after the destruction of the JLA's satellite headquarters during the invasion. Aquaman's participation in this new version of the Justice League ended in #243 (Oct. 1985), when he resigned to work on his marriage with Mera.
After the 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series, several short limited series were produced in the late 1980s and early 1990s — beginning with 1986's four-issue Aquaman (Feb. – May 1986), written by Neal Pozner, featuring Aquaman in a new, largely deep-sea blue, costume. The series was well received and a follow up limited series was in the works, though it was eventually canceled due to creative problems. This series also expanded on several details of the Silver Age Aquaman's origin as well as Aquaman's relationship with his half-brother, Ocean Master, whose origin was retold in more complete detail. The series also added mystical elements to Aquaman's mythology and reinvented Ocean Master as a sorcerer. Aquaman reappeared in his blue costume in the Aquaman Special #1 (1988).
In 1989, the Legend of Aquaman Special (officially titled as Aquaman Special #1 in the comic's legal indicia, the second Special in back-to-back years) rewrote Aquaman's mythos and origin, though keeping most of his Silver Age history intact. The special was by writer Robert Loren Fleming, with plots/breakdown art by Keith Giffen and full pencil art by artist Curt Swan.
The Modern Age Aquaman is born as Orin to Queen Atlanna and the mysterious wizard Atlan in the Atlantean city of Poseidonis. As a baby, he was abandoned on Mercy Reef (which is above sea level at low tide, causing exposure to air which would be fatal to Atlanteans) because of his blond hair, which was seen by the superstitious Atlanteans as a sign of a curse they called "the Mark of Kordax." The only individual who spoke up on Orin's behalf was Vulko, a scientist who had no patience for myth or superstition. While his pleas fell on deaf ears, Vulko would later become a close friend and advisor to the young Orin.
As a feral child who raised himself in the wilds of the ocean with only sea creatures to keep him company, Orin was found and taken in by a lighthouse keeper named Arthur Curry who named Orin "Arthur Curry" after himself. One day, Orin returned home and found that his adoptive father had disappeared, so he set off on his own. In his early teens, Orin ventured to the far north, where he met and fell in love with an Inupiat girl named Kako. He also first earned the hatred of Orm, the future Ocean Master who was later revealed to be Arthur's half-brother by Atlan and an Inupiat woman (Time and Tide, no. 4). Orin was driven away before he could learn that Kako had become pregnant with his son, Koryak.
Orin then returned to the seas mostly staying out of humanity's sight, until he discovered Poseidonis. He was captured by the city's then-dictatorial government and placed in a prison camp, where he met Vulko, also a prisoner of the state, who taught Orin the language and ways of the Atlanteans. While Orin was there, he realized that his mother was also being held captive, but after her death he broke out and fled. Eventually, he made his way to the surface world, where under the name of "Aquaman" he became one of several superheroes emerging into the public view at the time. Upon his return to Poseidonis, he was made the king, and sometime later he met and married Mera. The Modern Age Aquaman's history is nearly identical to that of the Silver Age Aquaman from this point on.
As detailed in the five-issue Aquaman limited series (June – Oct. 1989) (by the same creative team of the 1989 special of Robert Loren Fleming, Keith Giffen, and Curt Swan), which continued a few of the themes from the Legend of Aquaman Special, Mera was eventually driven insane by grief over the death of Arthur, Jr., and was committed to an asylum in Poseidonis. Shortly afterwards, an alien force conquered Atlantis. Arthur was forced to save the city but was hampered by an escaped Mera who personally blamed Arthur for the death of their son. In a fit of rage, Mera left Aquaman's dimension.
The publication of writer Peter David's The Atlantis Chronicles #1-7 (March – Sept. 1990), which told the story of Atlantis from antediluvian times to Aquaman's birth, successfully revived interest in the character introduced the ancient Atlantean characters Orin (after whom Aquaman was named) and Atlan (who was revealed to be Aquaman's father).
A new Aquaman ongoing series with creative team Shaun McLaughlin and Ken Hooper (#1-13) thereafter ran from December 1991 to December 1992, which portrayed Aquaman reluctantly deciding to remain in Poseidonis as its protector once again. For a time, he served as Atlantis' representative to the United Nations but always found himself thrust back into the superhero role. Becoming more and more of a workaholic and solitary figure, Aquaman eventually returned to the oceans. He soon became tangled up in another attempt by Black Manta to destroy Atlantis by dragging it into a war with a surface nation.
Peter David returned to the character in another limited series, Aquaman: Time and Tide, a 1993/1994 four-issue series which further explained Aquaman's origins as he finally learned all about the history of his people through the Atlantis Chronicles (presented as historical texts passed down and updated through the centuries). Aquaman learned that his birth name was Orin and that he and his enemy Ocean Master shared the same father, "an ancient Atlantean wizard" named Atlan. This revelation sent Orin into a bout of rage and depression, setting the stage for later confrontations between the two, as it was said in the Chronicles that "two brothers will also battle for control of Atlantis" (the Silver Age Aquaman had always known that the Ocean Master was his half-brother Orm, although Orm's amnesia prevented him from remembering that fact for some time). This series is credited by Kevin Melrose of Comic Book Resources with helping the character reach the height of his modern-era popularity.
Aquaman received his own series again with the publication of the fifth Aquaman #1 (Aug. 1994), initially scripted by Peter David, following up on his 1993 Aquaman: Time and Tide limited series. This new Aquaman series was the longest-running for the character, lasting until its 75th issue. David left the series after issue #46 (July 1998) after working on it for nearly four years.
David began by giving Aquaman an entirely new look, forsaking his former clean-cut appearance. Following his discoveries reading the Atlantis Chronicles during the Time and Tide series, Aquaman withdraws from the world for a time. Garth finds him weeks later, with his hair and beard grown long, brooding in his cave. Soon after (vol. 5, #2, Sept. 1994), Aquaman loses his left hand when the madman Charybdis steals his ability to communicate with sea life and sticks Arthur's hand into a piranha-infested pool. This causes Aquaman to become somewhat unhinged, and he begins having prophetic dreams, and then, in need of a "symbol", attaches a harpoon spearhead to his left arm in place of his missing hand. His classic orange shirt is shredded in a battle with Lobo (#4), and rather than replace it he goes shirtless for a while before donning a gladiatorial manica (#5). After the destruction of the harpoon (#8), Aquaman has it replaced with a cybernetic prosthetic from S.T.A.R. Labs (#9). This new harpoon has a retractable reel that he can fully control.
A major storyline, culminating in #25, concerns the Five Lost Cities of Atlantis. Facing an unearthly invading species linked to the origin of the Atlanteans, Aquaman has to search out and unite the lost cities. This storyline establishes him as a Warrior King, and he becomes a major political power, ruling largely undisputed over all the Atlantean cities. The remainder of Peter David's run focused on Orin coming to terms with his genetic heritage and his role as a king. During this time he discovers the remnants of a sentient alien ship beneath Poseidonis, and is able to take control of it, returning Poseidonis to the surface and bringing Atlantis into greater contact with the outside world. The cultural changes this brings about, including increased tourism, as well as his conflicting duties as superhero and king, bring him into increasing tension with the political powers in his city.
After a brief stint by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, David was replaced as writer by Erik Larsen with issue #50 (Dec. 1998) and again by Dan Jurgens in issue #63 (Jan. 2000); the series ended with #75 (Jan. 2001). During this time his wife Mera returns, now sane again, from the otherworldly dimension where she had been trapped, and Aquaman narrowly averts a coup d'état orchestrated by his son Koryak and his advisor Vulko. His second harpoon is also destroyed, this time in a battle with Noble, king of the Lurkers; he replaces it with a golden prosthetic hand developed by Atlantean scientists which can change shape at his command, thus retaining the powers of the harpoon but being more all-purpose. After a brief war with an island nation, Aquaman expands Atlantis' surface influence by annexing the country to Atlantis.
Hiatus between series
Aquaman had no regular series of his own from 2001–2003, but his plot went through several developments via his cameo appearances in several other titles.
Aquaman had rejoined the JLA when it reformed and remains an active, if sometimes reluctant member of that team until the Our Worlds at War event in 2001 (shortly after the cancellation of Aquaman vol. 5), during which Aquaman and the city of Poseidonis disappeared and were presumed to be destroyed during a confrontation between Aquaman and an Imperiex probe. In its place was simply a huge rift in the water of the ocean, with a vast spectral statue of Aquaman standing over it that the JLA installed as a holographic 'beacon' to both warn ships away from the trench and provide a signal for the Atlanteans to use if they were ever able to find their way back.
The Justice League eventually found that the city was still there, just magically shielded, but in ruins and apparently uninhabited. The Atlanteans were trapped in the ancient past, where Tempest had sent them as a last measure when it appeared that the city would be destroyed by the probe. There, however, they were enslaved by their own Atlantean ancestors, led by a powerful sorceress named Gamemnae, and Aquaman himself was transformed into living water and imprisoned in an ornamental pool. Over time, this civilization had collapsed until only Gamemnae herself, now immensely powerful, inhabited the ruins.
After a few months of their time — but fully fifteen years for the Atlanteans — the JLA free Aquaman in "The Obsidian Age" storyline in JLA. Although the original League were killed by Gamemnae, their souls were contained by the magician Manitou Raven to use in a spell to contain Gamemnae in Atlantis until the present day, when he was able to resurrect them. With the aid of Nightwing, Hawkgirl, Firestorm, Zatanna and Manitou Raven- the first four being members of the 'reserve JLA' that had been put together by an automatic program created by Batman that kicked in after the League vanished into the past, who had gone back in time with the aid of the Manitou Raven of their time-, Aquaman is freed from his prison in the pool, Firestorm linking the pool to the ocean and Zatanna enhancing his powers so that he can now control the entire ocean as a water wraith. With this power, Aquaman is able to sever Gamemnae's connection to the city by sinking it under the sea again. While he fought Gamemnae, the League members returned the modern Atlanteans to the present where they could begin rebuilding the city, which in the present too was once again at the bottom of the sea.
Back to basics
A sixth Aquaman series began shortly afterwards, initially written by Rick Veitch who sought to take Aquaman in a more mystical direction. Subsequent writers who contributed to the series include John Ostrander, Will Pfeifer, Tad Williams, and John Arcudi. This series ran 57 issues starting in December 2002 (cover dated February 2003); starting with #39 (April 2006), following the events of Infinite Crisis, it was renamed Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis.
Aquaman was blamed by his people for the initial decision to take them back in time, and sentenced to death. He escaped, and met the Lady of the Lake, who gave him a new prosthetic hand composed of mystical water with unusual properties. From there he gradually returned to his more traditional look—orange shirt, short hair, and beardless—but did not return to his city for several years.
Later, Aquaman went to San Diego after a massive earthquake plunged half the city into the Pacific Ocean. He discovered that many people had survived the catastrophe, somehow gaining the ability to breathe underwater, and he began helping them to rebuild the submerged portion of the city they now called "Sub Diego". During this time, Aquaman picked up a new sidekick named Lorena, who eventually became the new Aquagirl: she was the only one of the Sub Diegans who retained the ability to breathe air as well as water.
Aquaman's exile turned out to have been orchestrated by a sorcerer class who had come to power using knowledge gained in the Obsidian Age; after they were overthrown the city made overtures for him to return as their king. He declined, but for a time, it appeared that Aquaman might reconcile with Mera, as he attempted to take her to the surface in order to save her from the Atlantean mages who had transformed her into an air-breather.
Shortly thereafter, during the Infinite Crisis event, Atlantis was destroyed by the Spectre, and many of its citizens were killed, including Aquaman's son Koryak and his oldest friend (and father figure) Vulko. Aquaman led the survivors to Sub Diego in the hope that the two displaced peoples could help each other. When Black Manta attacked the sunken city, Aquaman defeated him and left him for dead, surrounded by carnivorous fish (it was later revealed that Manta survived, although it remains unclear whether Aquaman intended his death).
The Missing Year through Final Crisis
Following the One Year Later event (starting with Aquaman vol. 6, #40, May 2006), the series was renamed Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis and taken in an entirely different direction by writer Kurt Busiek. Aquaman is missing and presumed dead. A youth by the name of "Arthur Joseph Curry" is summoned by the mysterious Dweller in the Depths to take up the mantle of Aquaman, but it gradually emerges that the Dweller himself is Aquaman, having lost much of his memory and been strangely mutated, while gaining magical powers. (See the Arthur Joseph Curry section, below.)
These changes were explained only later: during the "missing year" depicted in the weekly comic book 52, Aquaman makes a brief appearance at the memorial for Superboy. Sometime later Ralph Dibny, seemingly accompanied by Dr. Fate's helmet, meets a bearded, long-haired, and amnesic Orin in the ruins of Atlantis. The helmet portends that "if he lives... if he lives... it is as a victim of the magicks of legend and the power of the sea."
Orin had made a deal with the gods of the sea in a desperate bid to gain the power to save the lives of several Sub Diego inhabitants who had lost the ability to live in water. Using the bones of his severed left hand in a magical ritual, the sea gods gave Orin the power to raise Sub Diego onto dry land. However, Orin mutated into the "Dweller of the Depths" (via the events of "WWIII"/52's Penultimate chapter) as a side effect of gaining his new abilities and lost his memories as a result. The fate he foresaw for Arthur Joseph Curry was a confused memory of his own past.
In the midst of trying to help his successor, Orin was murdered. Upon the receipt of Orin's body, members of the Justice League of America, including Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and the Flash, examine the body in Atlantis and wish the best for Mera and the new Aquaman.
Orin seemingly reappears in Atlantis during the Final Crisis to fend off the forces of Darkseid, but the Aquaman that appeared is revealed to be from another Earth in the multiverse. The appearance of this Aquaman was later perceived by Hal Jordan and Barry Allen as an unsubstantiated rumor, since the Aquaman was never seen nor heard from again. Sometime between his death and the beginning of Blackest Night, Orin's body was moved and buried on land at Mercy Reef alongside Tom Curry in accordance with his final wishes.
In Blackest Night #1, Garth returns to Atlantis and tells Orin's wife Mera that he is angry at the notion of Aquaman's body being buried on land. Mera relays to Tempest that Orin felt safe on land and that it is indeed what he wanted. Sometime later, a black power ring is seen entering Orin's grave, bidding him to rise. Aquaman rises with Tula and Dolphin as revenant members of the Black Lantern Corps, demanding that Mera reunite with him in death (even offering a chance to see her son again). Garth is killed and joins the Black Lanterns himself. Mera fights back against Orin's reanimated corpse (denying that the Black Lantern is her husband) before fleeing. In the climax of Blackest Night, Aquaman was among those resurrected by The White Lantern Entity, and he was reunited with his wife. Because the Black Lantern Ring helped reconstruct Orin's body, when he was resurrected his hand was returned to him.
Aquaman and Mera spent the night together in the lighthouse of Amnesty Bay, but in the morning Mera finds Arthur on the dock looking at the sea and wondering why he was resurrected. Mera comforts her husband and invites him to swim with her, but Arthur is hesitant, seeing only his Black Lantern form reflected back at him in the water. Later, he and Mera intercept a pirate vessel but finds that he can only call on dead sea life to help him, Boston Brand had been using his white ring to watch and is unable to explain how Aquaman was able to keep one of his Black Lantern abilities.
While cleaning up an oil spill, Aquaman and Mera are attacked by soldiers from Mera's homeworld and leading them is Siren. Mera pulls Aquaman away from them and reveals that she was sent to kill him. She also hints that, despite the long-lasting exile of her people, Xebel's soldiers had been enemies of Black Manta himself from a distant time, even preceding the first public appearance of Aquaman, and states that, despite Mera's original mission being a solo one, Siren is now backed by the entire Death Squad, elite Xebel soldiers, at the orders of the acting princess. Mera explains later that Siren is her younger sister.
Aquaman is told by the Entity to find Jackson Hyde before a second unidentified group. Aquaman is about to start searching for Jackson when Mera claims that she knows who he is. After she tells him, Aquaman leaves to find Jackson on his own, sending Mera instead to get help because he needed time to mull all this new information over. He then rescues Jackson from a Xebel attack and it is revealed in conversation between the two that Aquaman's Silver Age origin has been re-established and he is once again the half-human son of Tom Curry and an Atlantean queen.
While Aquaman repels the Xebel soldiers, the white ring brings Deadman to the beach were it reveals that it was the Entity that freed the Xebel soldiers from the Bermuda Triangle so that Aquaman could acknowledge the truth about Mera and Xebel. After the Xebel soldiers are sent back to the Bermuda Triangle, the Entity reduces Aquaman to what appears to be white water.
When the Dark Avatar made his presence known, Aquaman is revealed to be part of the Elementals. Aquaman was transformed by the Entity to become the element of water and protect the Star City forest from the Dark Avatar, which appears to be the Black Lantern version of the Swamp Thing. The Elementals are then fused with the body of Alec Holland in order for him to be transformed by the Entity into the new Swamp Thing and battle against the Dark Avatar. After the Dark Avatar is defeated, Swamp Thing returned Aquaman to normal. Afterward, Aquaman is reunited with Mera, at which point he discovers that the Xebels' weapons were made of Atlantean technology.
The New 52 relaunch
As part of The New 52, DC's 2011 relaunch of their entire superhero line, Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Joe Prado served as the initial creative team of the company's new Aquaman series, the first issue of which was released September 28, 2011. The three creators remained on the title for the first 16 issues. That subsequently lead into the first New 52 continual, Aquaman related 'Mega-Event' (cross-over) in years "Throne of Atlantis".
The relaunched series cements Aquaman's status as the half-human son of Tom Curry and Atlanna, and sees him return to Amnesty Bay along with Mera. Greatly distressed by the harsh treatment given to the oceans during his time as ruler of Atlantis, Aquaman decides to abdicate the Atlantean throne and return to full-time heroics. However, he now struggles with his lack of reputation with the greater public, which views him as a lesser metahuman with less impressive powers than those of his peers. Also, in The New 52, Aquaman is once again a founding member of the Justice League and is a main member of the team.
Arthur Joseph Curry
Promotional art for Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #54 (Sept. 2007), by Terry and Rachel Dodson.
|First appearance||Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #40 (May 2006)|
|Created by||Kurt Busiek
|Alter ego||Arthur Joseph Curry|
Enhanced physical attributes
Limited empathic communion with sea life
As part of DC Comics' One Year Later event, Aquaman's series was renamed Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis with issue #40 (May 2006). The new developments include a new lead character, a new supporting cast, and the inclusion of sword and sorcery-type fantasy elements in the series.
Fictional character biography
While awaiting transport to Miami, Florida, a young man named Arthur Joseph Curry is washed out to sea when a storm ruptures the tank he is in. This Arthur Curry, whose origin closely resembles that of the Golden Age Aquaman as well as that of Neptune Perkins, is the son of oceanobiologist Dr. Phillip Curry. Arthur's mother, Elaine, died in childbirth and Dr. Curry was forced to use a mutagenic serum on his son when he was born three months premature. Arthur has lived his whole life in the main tank of his father's research facility at Avalon Cay, his only window to the outside world being television.
Shortly after his arrival in the sea, Arthur is mentally contacted by the mysterious "Dweller of the Depths," a deformed humanoid with tentacles instead of hair and a left hand made of water. The Dweller urges him to help King Shark, who still bears scars from a previous battle with Aquaman during the recent Crisis. The Dweller, confusing Arthur for Aquaman and calling him his "charge," tells Arthur and King Shark of a prophecy regarding Arthur's future, a prophecy which seems to be a distorted version of the original Aquaman's history. The Dweller reveals that the original Aquaman was "transformed into one akin to a great and terrible enemy of your people and became the vessel of power strange, ancient and terrible."
Arthur's first trip causes him to meet many of Aquaman's supporting characters including Mera, the Sea Devils, Vulko, and eventually Ocean Master. During this adventure, the Dweller progressively realizes that he himself is the original Aquaman, despite having no memory of his former life.
Later, Arthur finds a humanoid squid named Topo, a naive youth attracted by superheroics and seeking to become a sidekick, and Tempest, now amnesiac, unable to breathe water, and implanted with a post-hypnotic suggestion warning of an upcoming battle. The battle soon occurs, and the Dweller/Orin is apparently killed. The Justice League is called in to evaluate Orin's situation, but are unable to determine if he is truly dead, or if he can somehow resurrect himself due to his new magical nature.
In Sword of Atlantis #57, the series' final issue, Aquaman is visited by the Lady of the Lake, who explains his origins. The original Aquaman had given a sample of his water hand to Dr. Curry in order to resurrect Curry's dead son, Arthur, whom he had named after Orin. When Orin attempted to resurrect Sub Diego, a part of his soul attached itself to the dead body of Arthur Joseph Curry, while Orin mutated into the Dweller. Blaming himself for Orin's death, Aquaman vows to never be called "Arthur" again, refraining from using the "stolen" name, asking only to be called Joseph in the future.
In their quest to rid the Earth of all forms of kryptonite, Superman and Batman journey deep below the sea and find a large amount of it. The two of them are met with hostility by Aquaman and King Shark. A brief fight ensues, but eventually Joseph allows them to take that for which they came. Before doing so, he points out that not everyone may want Superman to find all of Earth's kryptonite, and that he would have to be at least part human to know that.
Joseph Curry would continue to be the stand-in king of Atlantis until after the "Final Crisis" event. It was revealed that Joseph had stepped down from his position due to being unable to deal with the pressure of carrying on Orin's legacy. Tempest later finds Joseph's trident and costume draped over Orin's throne, confirming that he has abandoned his duties.
Powers and abilities
Aquaman's most widely recognized power is the telepathic ability to communicate with marine life, which he can summon from great distances. Although this power is most often and most easily used on marine life, Aquaman has at times demonstrated the ability to affect any being that lives upon the sea (e.g., sea eagles), or even any being evolved from marine life (e.g., humans). As per the 2011 DC continuity reboot, Aquaman's telepathy has been greatly downplayed: acknowledging that most marine life doesn't possess enough intelligence to carry a meaningful telepathic communication, Aquaman is now stated to simply add compulsions and needs in the mindset of aquatic life, compelling them to do his bidding by a subtle altering of their midbrain.
Aquaman has a number of superhuman powers, most of which derive from the fact that he is adapted to live in the depths of the ocean. He has the ability to breathe underwater. He possesses superhuman durability high enough to remain unaffected by the immense pressure and the cold temperature of the ocean depths, this also makes him tough enough to be invulnerable to machine gun fire. He also possesses superhuman strength. He can swim at very high speeds, capable of reaching speeds of 10,000 feet per second and can swim up Niagara Falls. He can see in near total darkness and has enhanced hearing granting limited sonar. Although he can remain underwater indefinitely without suffering any ill effects, Aquaman grows weak if he remains on land for extended periods. However, when Batman invented Aquaman's water suit he was able to walk on land for an indefinite amount of time and was no longer vulnerable to a "dehumidifier". This weakness was later removed from continuity in 2011, establishing that he grew up on land before learning of his Atlantean heritage.
After the loss of his left hand, Aquaman initially replaced it with a cybernetic retractable hook, then a cybernetic hand. The mechanical hand was replaced by a magical hand made out of water given to him by the Lady of the Lake, which grants Aquaman numerous abilities, including but not limited to: the ability to dehydrate anyone he touches and killing them instantly, the ability to shoot jets of scalding water, healing abilities, the ability to create portals into mystical dimensions, and the ability to communicate with the Lady of the Lake through the waterbearer hand. His biological hand was restored when the character was resurrected in Brightest Day (2010).
The brief second Aquaman demonstrated many physical abilities in common with the original Aquaman, including underwater breathing, submarine speed, and superhuman strength. Like the Golden Age Aquaman, Arthur cannot survive outside of water for long. He gains telepathic powers, and can speak and understand the languages of the sentient sea peoples unaided, and has a limited ability to communicate with nonsentient sea life. He cannot speak directly to them as his predecessor could, but can send and receive emotional impressions and desires, such as communicating a need for help. The latter ability, and in one instance has been able to "see" through the eyes of nearby fish.
In the 2005–2007 miniseries Justice, Aquaman has regenerative powers. After having brain surgery experiments performed against his will, Aquaman is left to die (and presumed dead). He later appears having healed completely without scarring.
In the 1960s, following the establishment of DC Comics' multiverse system, the Golden Age version of Aquaman became known as the Aquaman of Earth-Two, while the Silver Age version of Aquaman became the Aquaman of Earth-One. Although the two versions never met, the Earth-Two Aquaman did appear post-Golden Age in All-Star Squadron #59-60 (July – August 1986), just before the character was retroactively eliminated from existence via the crossover event "Crisis on Infinite Earths".
Just'a Lotta Animals
The 1980s series Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew presented the parallel Earth of "Earth-C-Minus," a world populated by funny animal superheroes that paralleled the mainstream DC Universe. Earth-C-Minus featured Aquaduck, a duck version of Aquaman with similar powers.
Arthur Curry appears in the 1997 Tangent Comics One Shot Green Lantern and is the son of pilot Captain Boomerang, and a member of Captain Boomerangs fleet, he is initially unaware of his relation to the Captain.
In the Countdown tie-in The Search for Ray Palmer: Superwoman/Batwoman, a female version of Aquaman is shown to reside on Earth-11. This version is called "Anne", is physically similar to Joseph Curry, and commands the armies of Atlantis.
In JLA/Avengers, Aquaman is a member of the JLA. He shows his royal attitude many times, especially when he sees the way that Dr. Doom forces his subjects to worship him. He participates in the treasure hunt against the Avengers, but the hunt is all in vain when the villain Krona attacks and mortally wounds both The Grandmaster and Galactus, forcing the Grandmaster to merge the two worlds to stop Krona. When Captain America and Superman, who both sense the changes in the merged universe, attack each other, Aquaman is found by the Avenger Vision, and the two team up to discover what is wrong with the world. Aquaman sees the remains of the Daily Planet and realises this is his world. The two are ambushed by villains and Aquaman is nearly killed, but are rescued by a group of Leaguers and Avengers. He later sees his own hand being devoured when the Grandmaster shows the two teams the true realities. He agrees to battle Krona, and even lends one of his Atlantean ships to the battle. He shows off his immense psychic control over sea life when he single-handedly shuts down the minds of Atlantean soldiers under the control of Attuma, although his abilities only partially affect Namor due to Namor's half-human physiology. He sticks with the battle to the end and is one of the last JLAers remaining before Krona's stronghold crumbles and the universes separate.
In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Aquaman was brought back to Atlantis when he was a teenager, due to the death of his father. As a result, the young Arthur never learned compassion and kindness from his father, who was killed by the Atlantean agents sent to recover him. In the present day, Aquaman and all of Atlantis wage war against Wonder Woman and the Amazons. He caused Western Europe to sink into the sea killing over 60 million people, intending to sink England as well and is later seen alongside his brother, the Ocean Master, in the flooded remains of Paris where they attack the pirate Deathstroke and his crew members Sonar, Icicle, and Clayface. After taking them out, Aquaman then left the pirate Deathstroke to die, as he had other work to do. However, Deathstroke survives with the help of Sonar. The war against the Amazons started when Diana's mother, Hippolyta, was killed on Aquaman and Diana's wedding day, and in an act of retribution, Wonder Woman later killed Mera who had apparently married Aquaman. The wedding was going to happen after Atlantis was discovered by the Amazons when Aquaman saved and healed Diana when she was wounded by a sea creature. Both of the races then revealed themselves to the outside world. The death of Hippolyta was however revealed to be a casualty of war as the real target was Wonder Woman. A plot between Orm and Artemis to prevent the union of Aquaman and Wonder Woman was also revealed. In the present, Aquaman reassigns Siren and Ocean Master to assassinate Terra in New Themyscira. The mission failed, with Siren being killed by Diana's aunt, Penthesleia. The Amazonian Furies then attack the reinforcements led by Aquaman, who is confronted in battle by their leader, Wonder Woman. During their struggle, Wonder Woman tells him that they have both been deceived. She discovers that his brother Ocean Master and Penthesileia are both responsible for the war between the Atlanteans and the Amazons, and that it was a ruse planned by them. While the Atlanteans are going to the surface Aquaman believes she has set a trap. She escapes from Aquaman, who refuses her word. Aquaman then arrives on New Themyscira. Aquaman and Wonder Woman are approached by the Flash and the heroes, who are here to stop the war.
|Aquaman Archives, Vol. 1||Adventure Comics #260-280, 282; Showcase #30-31;||224||1-5638-9943-4|
|Showcase Presents: Aquaman, Vol. 1||Adventure Comics #260-280, 282, 284; Aquaman #1-6; Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #12; Showcase #30-33; Detective Comics #293-300; Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #55; World's Finest Comics #125-129||544||1-4012-1223-9|
|Showcase Presents: Aquaman, Vol. 2||Aquaman #7-23; World's Finest #130-133, 135, 137, 139; The Brave and the Bold #51||544||978-1401217129|
|Showcase Presents: Aquaman, Vol. 3||Aquaman #24-39; The Brave and the Bold #73; Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #115||448||978-1401221812|
|Aquaman: Death of a Prince||Adventure Comics #435-437, 441-455; Aquaman #57-63||336||978-1401231132|
|Aquaman: Time and Tide||Aquaman: Time and Tide #1-4||88||1-5638-9259-6|
|Aquaman: The Waterbearer||Aquaman vol. 6, #1-4; Aquaman Secret Files||119||1-4012-0088-5|
|Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis||Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #40-45||114||1-4012-1145-3|
|Aquaman Vol. 1: The Trench||Aquaman vol. 7, #1-6||144||1-4012-3551-4|
|Aquaman Vol. 2: The Others||Aquaman vol. 7 #7-13||160||1-4012-4016-X|
|Aquaman Vol. 3: Throne of Atlantis||Aquaman vol. 7 #0, 14-16;
Justice League vol. 2 #13-16
In other media
Aquaman has appeared in multiple cartoon series, such as The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure (in which his character voice was provided by actor Marvin Miller) for Filmation Associates, Super Friends, and Justice League.
In Marvel Comics' JLA pastiche Squadron Supreme, the character Amphibian, a mutant man named Kingsley Rice, is based on Aquaman. His body adapts to the sea by growing more fish-like at increased depths. In the Supreme Power revamp by J. Michael Straczynski, the Amphibian character is female, mute, and obviously non-human, with blue skin, fins, quill-like spines, and no obvious hair.
A fictional Aquaman movie played a central role in the second season and part of the third season of the HBO show Entourage, where the series central character earned great fame due to the critical success of the movie, directed by James Cameron.
In 2003, Cartoon Network Latin America aired the spoof series The Aquaman & Friends Action Hour that starred Aquaman as an easily irritated children's television show host and the Legion of Doom as his bankrupt villains.
Aquaman has also been referenced in several episodes of The Big Bang Theory, as have Flash, Green Lantern and Batman. Rajesh regretted having to dress up as him for a new years costume party, because he thought Aquaman "sucks."
Aquaman is the subject of an award-winning song by Filk music artists Ookla the Mok (band). The song, "Arthur Curry", appears on their 1997 album Less Than Art, and was awarded a Pegasus Award for Best Comic Book Song in 2004.
Aquaman is also featured in the song "Aquaman's Lament" by Mark Aaron James, on the album Just a Satel-lite.
A parody of Aquaman appears in season 7 episode 4 "Baby Not on Board" of Family Guy. In this episode, Aquaman helplessly watches from the ocean as a man attacks a woman on the beach. He yells empty threats and throws a starfish at the man but cannot intervene, as his powers are limited to the water only. He again appeared in the series in season 8 episode 18, "Quagmire's Dad".
In the Season 7 episode of Dexter entitled "Surprise, Motherfucker!", lead character Dexter Morgan uses the name "Arthur Curry" as an alias.
Aquaman is part of the DC Deckbuilding Game by Cryptozoic Entertainment.
Aquaman appears as a playable character in NetherRealm Studios' fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us. Aquaman's abilities in the game include fighting with a trident as well as being able to summon a Great White Shark as his special move.
Aquaman has also appeared mulitple times on the CW hit show Smallville, known as A.C. (short for Arthur Curry), then later on as codename "Aquaman". He was also scheduled to be featured in his own series by Al Gough and Miles Millar, the creators of Smallville, but only a pilot episode was created.
Reception and legacy
Aquaman was listed as the 147th greatest comic book character of all time by Wizard magazine. IGN also ranked Aquaman as the 53rd greatest comic book hero of all time, opining that "even though he'll forever be the butt of jokes thanks to his fishy powers, comic readers have come to love Aquaman as a noble (and very powerful) figure who is forever torn between the worlds of land and sea."
- List of Aquaman supporting characters
- List of Aquaman enemies
- Aquaman (TV series) - an animated TV series
- Aquaman (TV program) - an unaired live-action TV pilot
- Amphibian Man
- "Happy 70th Birthday". The Aquaman Shrine. Retrieved 2011-10-09.
- Wallace, Dan (2008). "Aquaman". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. London: Dorling Kindersley. pp. 18–19. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5.
- Aquaman #1 (2011)
- More Fun Comics #84 (Oct. 1942)
- Superboy #171 (Jan 1971)
- Aquaman #29 (Oct. 1966)
- Adventure Comics #256 (Jan. 1959)
- The Brave and the Bold #28 (March 1960)
- As shown in a flashback in Justice League of America #9 (Feb. 1962).
- Adventure Comics #269 (Feb. 1960)
- Adventure Comics #264 (Sept. 1959)
- From World's Finest Comics #263 (July 1980) onwards.
- Aquaman #18 (December 1964)
- Aquaman #11 (September 1963)
- Aquaman #23 (Oct. 1965)
- Aquaman #29 (September 1966)
- Aquaman #35 (September 1967)
- Nick Cardy (p)"The Fearful Freak from Atlantis" Aquaman #21 (May–June 1965)
- Aquaman #37 (January 1968)
- Aquaman #26 July (1976)
- Aquaman #1 (Jan-Feb 1962)
- The Brave and the Bold #73 (Aug-Sep 1967)
- Aquaman Vol. 1 #33 (May–June 1967)
- Jimenez, Phil (2008). "JLA Watchtower". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 132. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5. OCLC 213309017.
- Scott, Richard A. "The Aquaman Sequel That Wasn't" Back Issue #46 February 2011 TwoMorrows Publishing pp.53-59.
- Melrose, Kevin (March 27, 2011). "Geoff Johns to Write New Aquaman Series". Comic Book Resources.
- JLA #1 (Jan. 1997)
- JLA #68-75 (July 2002 – Jan. 2003)
- Johns, Geoff, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid (w). 52 39 (Jan. 2007), DC Comics
- Johns, Geoff, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid (w). 52 50 (April 2007), DC Comics
- Williams, Tad (w). Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis 50 (March 2007), DC Comics
- Williams, Tad (w). Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis 51 (April 2007), DC Comics
- Latoski, Todd (February 28, 2009). "Mega Con '09: DC Nation Panel - Final Crisis HC Details". Newsarama. Archived from the original on 3 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-01.
- Morrison, Grant (w). Final Crisis 7 (Jan. 2009), DC Comics
- Johns, Geoff (w). Blackest Night 0 (May 2009), DC Comics
- Johns, Geoff (w). Blackest Night 1 (July 2009), DC Comics
- Blackest Night #8 (March 2010)
- Brightest Day #0 (April 2010)
- Brightest Day #1 (May 2010)
- Brightest Day #5 (July 2010)
- Brightest Day #6 (July 2010)
- Brightest Day #7 (August 2010)
- Brightest Day #9 (September 2010)
- Brightest Day #16 (December 2010)
- Brightest Day #20 (March 2011)
- Brightest Day #23 (April 2011)
- Brightest Day #24 (June 2011)
- "The New 52 Interviews: Aquaman". IGN. September 27, 2011.
- Johnston, Rich (August 20, 2012). "Geoff Johns To Leave Aquaman With Ivan Reis". Bleeding Cool.
- Justice League (vol. 2) #6 (March 2012)
- Williams, Tad (w). Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis 57 (July 2009), DC Comics
- Wilson, G. Willow, Tony Bedard (w). Outsiders: Five of a Kind - Metamorpho/Aquaman 1 (Oct. 2007), DC Comics
- Green, Michael (w). Superman/Batman 45 (Jan. 2008), DC Comics
- Krul, J.T. (w). Titans v2, 15 (July 2009), DC Comics
- JLA, Vol. 5: Justice For All
- JLA, Vol. 17: Syndicate Rules
- JLA: Classified #3
- Aquaman #0 (2012)
- Aquaman vol. 6, #12
- Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #49
- Flash (volume 1) #123, September 1961
- The Aquaman Shrine on All-Star Squadron #60. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
- Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #14-15, April–May 1983
- Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #2 (July 2011)
- Flashpoint #1 (May 2011)
- Flashpoint #2 (June 2011)
- Flashpoint: Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager #2 (July 2011)
- Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #1 (June 2011)
- Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #1 (June 2011)
- Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #3 (August 2011)
- Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #3 (August 2011)
- Flashpoint #4 (August 2011)
- "Wizard's Top 200 Characters". Wizard. Retrieved 2011-05-17. NOTE: External link consists of a forum site summing up the top 200 characters of Wizard Magazine because the real site that contains the list is broken.
- "Aquaman is Number 52". IGN. Retrieved 2011-05-17.
- The Unofficial Aquaman Site, including the Aquaman FAQ
- The Aquaman Shrine — A Blog Devoted to Aquaman
- AquamanTV: Mercy Reef
- Index of Aquaman's Earth-1 Adventures
- Aquaman at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on April 4, 2012.
- Alan Kistler's Profile on Aquaman
- Aquaman on DC Database, an external wiki, a DC Comics wiki