Variant cover of Aquaman: Rebirth #1 (August 2016). Art by Brad Walker.
|First appearance||More Fun Comics #73 (November 1941)|
|Alter ego||Arthur Curry, Orin|
|Place of origin||Atlantis|
|Notable aliases||Orin, The King of the Seven Seas, The Dweller-in-the-Depths, The Aquatic Ace, The Marine Marvel, Terra Firma, Rider of King Tide, AC, Protector of the Deep|
Aquaman is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published 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 comic book series. During the late 1950s and 1960s superhero-revival period known as the Silver Age, he was a founding member of the Justice League. In the 1990s Modern Age, writers interpreted Aquaman's character more seriously, with storylines depicting the weight of his role as king of Atlantis.
The character's original 1960s animated appearances left a lasting impression, making Aquaman widely recognized in popular culture and one of the world's most recognized superheroes. Jokes about his wholesome, weak portrayal in Super Friends and perceived feeble powers and abilities have been staples of comedy programs and stand-up routines, leading DC at several times to attempt to make the character edgier or more powerful in comic books. Modern comic book depictions have attempted to reconcile these various aspects of his public perception, casting Aquaman as serious and brooding, 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.
Aquaman has been featured in several adaptations, first appearing in animated form in the 1967 The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure and then in the related Super Friends program. Since then he has appeared in various animated productions, including prominent roles in the 2000s series Justice League and Justice League Unlimited and Batman: The Brave and the Bold, as well as several DC Universe Animated Original Movies. Actor Alan Ritchson also portrayed the character in the live-action television show Smallville. In the DC Extended Universe, actor Jason Momoa portrayed the character in the films Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League, and Aquaman.
- 1 Fictional character biography
- 1.1 Golden Age
- 1.2 Silver Age
- 1.3 Modern Age
- 1.4 The New 52 and "Convergence"
- 1.5 Rebirth/DC Universe
- 2 Arthur Joseph Curry
- 3 Powers and abilities
- 4 Other versions
- 5 Collected editions
- 6 In other media
- 7 Reception and legacy
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Fictional character biography
Aquaman's first origin story was presented in flashback from his debut in More Fun Comics #73 (November 1941), narrated by the character himself:
The story must start with my father, a famous undersea explorer—if I spoke his name, you would recognize it. My mother died when I was a baby, and he turned to his work of solving the ocean's secrets. His greatest discovery was an ancient city, in the depths where no other diver had ever penetrated. My father believed it was the lost kingdom of Atlantis. He made himself a water-tight home in one of the palaces and lived there, studying the records and devices of the race's marvelous wisdom. From the books and records, he learned ways of teaching me to live under the ocean, drawing oxygen from the water and using all the power of the sea to make me wonderfully strong and swift. By training and a hundred scientific secrets, I became what you see—a human being who lives and thrives under the water.
In his early Golden Age appearances, Aquaman can 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 yards (18 m) radius). Aquaman's adventures took place all across the world, and his base was "a wrecked fishing boat kept underwater," in which he lived.
During his wartime adventures, most of Aquaman's foes were Nazi U-boat commanders and various Axis villains where he once worked with the All-Star Squadron. 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.
The Silver Age Aquaman made his first appearance in Adventure Comics #260 (May 1959). In it 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 discovers as a youth that he possesses 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 on one occasion, met Superboy, Earth's only other publicly active superpowered hero at the time. 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 nemesis, Ocean Master.
Aquaman's ability to talk with fish eventually expanded to full-fledged telepathic communication with sea creatures even from great distances. He 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 becomes Aquaman's base of operations for a time.
Aquaman is recognized as the son of Atlanna and is later voted to be the King after the death of the former regent, who has no heirs. By this time Aquaman had met Mera, a queen from a water-based dimension, and marries her shortly after he had become king. They soon have 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 is briefly made the leader of the Justice League of America. In a storyline in Justice League of America #228–230, an invasion of Earth by a race of Martians occurs at a time when the core members are missing. Aquaman is thus forced to defend Earth with a League much-depleted in power and capability, and he takes 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 veteran Justice League members Martian Manhunter, Zatanna, and Elongated Man, Aquaman recruits and trains 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 (October 1985), when he resigns to work on his marriage with Mera.
After the 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths miniseries, several short miniseries were produced in the late 1980s and the early 1990s, beginning with 1986's four-issue Aquaman (February–May 1986), written by Neal Pozner, and 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 written by writer Robert Loren Fleming, with plots/breakdown art by Keith Giffen and full pencil art by artist Curt Swan.
This origin story of the Modern Age recounts that 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 returns home and finds that his adoptive father has disappeared, so he sets off on his own. In his early teens, Orin ventures to the far north, where he meets and falls 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.
As detailed in the five-issue Aquaman limited series (June–October 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 is eventually driven insane by grief over the death of Arthur, Jr., and is committed to an asylum in Poseidonis. Shortly afterwards, an alien force conquers Atlantis. Arthur is forced to save the city but is hampered by an escaped Mera, who personally blames Arthur for the death of their son. In a fit of rage, Mera leaves Aquaman's dimension.
The publication of writer Peter David's The Atlantis Chronicles #1–7 (March–September 1990), which tells the story of Atlantis from antediluvian times to Aquaman's birth, introduced the ancient Atlantean characters Orin (after whom Aquaman was named) and Atlan (who was revealed to be Aquaman's father).
Another 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 serves as Atlantis' representative to the United Nations but always finds himself thrust back into the superhero role. Becoming more and more of a workaholic and solitary figure, Aquaman eventually returns to the oceans. He soon becomes 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 learns all about the history of his people through the Atlantis Chronicles, which are presented as historical texts passed down and updated through the centuries. Aquaman learns that his birth name was Orin and that he and his enemy Ocean Master share the same father, "an ancient Atlantean wizard" named Atlan. This revelation sends Orin into a bout of rage and depression, setting the stage for later confrontations between the two, as it is said in the Chronicles that "two brothers will also battle for control of Atlantis". This is in contrast to the Silver Age Aquaman, who 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 starred in his own series again with the publication of the fifth volume of Aquaman #1 (August 1994), initially scripted by Peter David, following up on his 1993 Time and Tide miniseries. This 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 Time and Tide, Aquaman withdraws from the world for a time. Garth finds him weeks later, with his hair and beard grown long, brooding in his cave. Aquaman loses his left hand when the madman Charybdis, attempting to force Arthur to show him how he can harness Arthur's ability to communicate with sea life, 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, and rather than replace it, he goes shirtless for a while before donning a gladiatorial manica. After the destruction of the harpoon, Aquaman has it replaced with a cybernetic prosthetic from S.T.A.R. Labs. 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 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 (December 1998) and again by Dan Jurgens in issue #63 (January 2000). The series ended with #75 (January 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 was a founding member of the reformed JLA and remains an active, if sometimes reluctant member of that team until the "Our Worlds at War" storyline in 2001 (shortly after the cancellation of Aquaman vol. 5), during which Aquaman and the city of Poseidonis disappear during a battle between Aquaman and an Imperiex probe.
The Justice League eventually find that the city was still there, just magically shielded, but in ruins and apparently uninhabited. The Atlanteans are 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 are enslaved by their own Atlantean ancestors, led by a powerful sorceress named Gamemnae, and Aquaman himself is 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 is killed by Gamemnae, their souls are contained by the magician Manitou Raven to use in a spell to contain Gamemnae in Atlantis until the present day, when he is able to resurrect them. Aquaman is freed from his prison in the pool, and Zatanna enhances 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 fights Gamemnae, the League members return the modern Atlanteans to the present, where they can begin rebuilding the city, which in the present too is once again at the bottom of the sea.
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); initially focusing on Aquaman's efforts to survive after he was exiled from Atlantis and the ocean, the theme of the storyline changed when Aquaman became involved after a sizeable portion of San Diego sunk into the ocean. Over the next few months, it was discovered that the sinking was the work of a scientist who had acquired a sample of Aquaman's DNA; believing that the human race as it currently existed would destroy Earth, he had sunk the city while using the sample he took from Aquaman to convert most of the residents into water-breathers. Aquaman goes on to establish himself as the protector of 'Sub Diego', aided by new Aquagirl Lorena Marquez, despite such problems as the human residents' poor reaction to being trapped underwater or Ocean Master's attempt to 'rewrite history' so that he is Aquaman while Orin is Ocean Master.
Starting with #40 (May 2006), following the events of the "Infinite Crisis" storyline, it was renamed Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis which ended with issue #57 (October 2007).
The missing year through "Final Crisis"
Following the "One Year Later" storyline (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 later during the "missing year" depicted in the weekly series 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 makes 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 give Orin the power to raise Sub Diego onto dry land. However, as a side effect of this, Orin mutates into the "Dweller of the Depths", and loses his memories. 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 is murdered by Narwhal. 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 2008 "Final Crisis" storyline to fend off the forces of Darkseid, but this Aquaman is revealed to be from another Earth in the multiverse. The appearance of this Aquaman is later perceived by Hal Jordan and Barry Allen as an unsubstantiated rumor, since this person was never seen nor heard from again. Sometime between his death and the beginning of the 2008–09 "Blackest Night" storyline, Orin's body is 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's corpse rises, along with those of Tula and Dolphin as revenant members of the Black Lantern Corps, and demands that Mera reunite with him in death, offering her a chance to see her son again. Garth is killed and joins the Black Lanterns himself. Mera rejects the corpse before fleeing. In the climax of the miniseries, Aquaman is among those resurrected by The White Lantern Entity, and is reunited with Mera. Because the Black Lantern Ring helps reconstruct Orin's body, when he is resurrected his hand is restored as well.
Aquaman and Mera spend 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. Later, they intercept a pirate vessel but Aquaman finds that he can only call on dead sea life to help him.
While cleaning up an oil spill, Aquaman and Mera are attacked by soldiers from Mera's homeworld, led by Siren. Mera 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. She later reveals that Siren is her younger sister.
Aquaman is told by the White Lantern Entity to find Jackson Hyde before a second, unidentified group does. Mera states that she knows who he is, and after she tells him, Aquaman leaves, and rescues Jackson from a Xebel attack. It is revealed 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. The Entity subsequently reduces Aquaman to what appears to be white water. Aquaman is revealed to be one of the Elementals, and 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. After the Dark Avatar is defeated, Swamp Thing returns 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 and "Convergence"
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 continual, Aquaman-related crossover 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 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. He is also once again a founding member of the Justice League and is the main member of the team. It is revealed in Aquaman #7 that early in his career, Aquaman had teamed with a mysterious loose-knit group of characters simply known as The Others, consisting of Aquaman himself, the South American jungle girl Ya'Wara and her panther, a Russian known as Vostok-X, an ex-army veteran called Prisoner-of-War, The Operative, and an Iranian called Kahina the Seer. All of The Others have in their possession an enchanted relic from Atlantis. From 2014 to 2015, an independent Aquaman and the Others series was launched.
The 2015 "Convergence" storyline gives Aquaman a new look at issue #41. He has been deposed from his throne by Mera, now Queen of Atlantis, who is now hunting Aquaman as a fugitive. Along the way Arthur acquires some new powers and new equipment giving him access to powerful mystical capabilities. It is later revealed that Atlantis is really being run by Siren, identical twin sister of Mera, whom she has taken prisoner.
This article needs to be updated.April 2018)(
Following the company-wide rebranding in DC Rebirth with one focus point to bring back legacy and relationships, Arthur finally proposes to Mera in DC Universe: Rebirth #1. Aquaman was given an eighth volume of his eponymous series, which started with a one-shot comic book entitled Aquaman: Rebirth #1 (August 2016). This issue and the subsequent eighth volume of Aquaman kept writer Dan Abnett who had taken over the title of the three last issues in the New 52, having previously written the character for a short time a decade earlier. The eighth volume of Aquaman focuses on Aquaman's role as king and diplomat, with Arthur attempting to strengthen Atlantis-surface relationships by opening an Atlantean embassy in Amnesty Bay, with Mera appointed as ambassador. The series largely focuses on the main cast featured in the New 52 series consisting of Aquaman, Mera, and Black Manta, while also fleshing out forgotten side characters such as Murk, Tula (Aquagirl), Black Jack, and others.
Arthur Joseph Curry
Arthur Joseph Curry is the second DC Comics superhero to be known as Aquaman. Created by Kurt Busiek and Jackson Guice, he first appeared in Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #40 (May 2006). As part of DC Comics's 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. The character was short-lived, and was not seen much leading up to the revival of Aquaman in the 2010 Blackest Night miniseries, and is not featured in DC continuity at all following its 2011 reboot, The New 52.
Arthur's story resembles versions of the original Aquaman's. 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, much like the Golden Age Aquaman, 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 the kryptonite. 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" storyline. 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 had abandoned his duties.
Powers and abilities
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Aquaman's most widely recognized power is the telepathic ability to communicate with marine life, which he can summon from great distances. He once stated that this power more relied on encouraging and compelling the subject rather than full control, citing piranha as a species he has trouble commanding under any circumstances due to their ruthlessness and hunger. Although this power is most often and most easily used on beings that live in the sea, 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 and some aliens). 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 cerebellum.
The character has a number of other superhuman powers, most of which derive from the fact that he is adapted to live and thrive in the harshest of underwater environments. He has the ability to breathe underwater and possesses a superhuman physique strong enough to withstand attacks from superhuman opponents and resist machine gun fire. Aquaman frequently displays feats of Super-Atlantean (the average Atlantean can lift/press approximately 2 tons) and Superhuman strength. While not on par with Superman and Wonder Woman, he has proven capable of leaps up to 6 miles. He can swim at very high speeds, capable of reaching speeds of 3,000 meters per second (10,800 km [roughly 6,700 miles] per hour) and can swim up Niagara Falls. He can see in near total darkness and has enhanced hearing, granting limited sonar.
Although Aquaman can remain underwater indefinitely without suffering any ill effects, he 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, but he still runs the risk of dying by dehydration within incredibly hostile environments. AC had been bestowed an ability he never showcased before gifted unto him by an old Sea Monarch, so far one of the said proclivities granted to him was the ability of unaided flight under his own power.
Before the New 52, the Trident, granted by Poseidon to the rightful ruler and protector of the seas, was indestructible and a very powerful melee weapon, able to destroy the very powerful Imperiex Probes for instance, which Aquaman wielded with unmatched skill. Apart from its power as a melee weapon, the Trident also had the power to manipulate water, fire bolts of powerful energy and act as a focus to amplify the magical power of others, most notably Tempest. In the New 52, the Trident is now part of a collection of seven very powerful Atlantean magical items, forged by the first king of Atlantis who calls himself 'The Dead King'. Thought to be the most powerful weapon of the set, with the possible exception of the recently discovered seventh item, the Trident is completely indestructible and able to hurt even the most powerful of opponents, such as the evil god Darkseid, with Aquaman being the only leaguer to puncture and make him bleed out. He was also able to break the mystical barrier of Dr. Graves which was deemed indestructible at the time. In one instance, the Trident was shown glowing with magical power when Black Manta used the rest of the items to discover the hidden seventh one. For a time, Aquaman withheld the Trident of said aforementioned god of the oceans in his battles against the Thule and Rao's disciples, which gave him the power to summon tsunamis and deluges, call down thunder and lightning, project and control ice, move the earth making it rise and tremble at his command, as well as teleport himself from global to interplanetary distances using water as a medium. It could also transform into a gladius and back at will. Arthur also uses both versions of the trident to boost the range his telepathy. Recently Arthur has learned to channel his underlying magical power through his royal trident while under the influence of The Crown of Thorns. The ambient magical energies the current regime had been peddling awakened both his and the artifacts long dormant arcane aptitude giving him powers similar to the blessings of Poseidon, these powers included augmented physical abilities enabling the dispatch of the magically enhanced Drift Squads. Soothing Mera's magic poisoned condition when she was rendered incapable of breathing water by it. Discharging bolts of eldritch energy, erecting protective shielding and resisting magical power when faced against it, with or without his trident. Often whenever he utilizes these latent talents Arthur's eyes glow with arcane power further strengthening his abilities.
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 kill them instantly, the ability to shoot jets of water from his hand, scalding or freezing, healing abilities, the ability to create portals into mystical dimensions acting as spontaneous transport, the ability to control almost any body of water he sets his focuses on 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 Blackest Night #8.
- In the 1960s, following the establishment of DC Comics's 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 1985 "Crisis on Infinite Earths" storyline.
- The 1980s series Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew presented the parallel Earth of "Earth-C-Minus," a world populated by anthropomorphic animal superheroes that paralleled the mainstream DC Universe. Earth-C-Minus featured Aquaduck, a duck version of Aquaman with similar powers.
- Aquaman watches over the seas and his kingdom in the Supergirl: Wings Elseworlds story.
- Arthur Curry appears in the 1997 Tangent Comics one-shot Green Lantern, in which he is revealed to be the son of the pilot Captain Boomerang, and a member of Boomerang's fleet.
- 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. The Aquawoman of the slightly revised Earth-11 appears in The Multiversity #1 (2014) as one of the assembled heroes of the Multiverse who have come together to save it from destruction.
- In the 2003–04 intercompany crossover JLA/Avengers, Aquaman teams up with the Avenger Vision to investigate the changes to their respective Earth's as a result of the actions of the Grandmaster. He displays 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.
- In the alternate timeline of the 2011 "Flashpoint" storyline, Aquaman is 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, which began when Diana's mother Hippolyta was killed on Aquaman and Diana's wedding day. In an act of retribution, Wonder Woman later killed Mera who had apparently married Aquaman. The death of Hippolyta was however revealed to be a casualty of war as the real target was Wonder Woman. Aquaman causes Western Europe to sink into the sea, killing over 60 million people, and intends to sink England as well. 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 by Ocean Master and Penthesileia, who are responsible for the war between the Atlanteans and the Amazons. This Aquaman returns in Convergence: Justice League #1.
- In the prequel comic to the game Injustice: Gods Among Us, Aquaman appears to attack Japanese fisherman who killed a whale. He is intercepted by the Justice League, with it turning into a brawl between the Justice League and the Atlanteans. Superman, having undergone the death of his wife and unborn child and the destruction of Metropolis, threatens Aquaman to stop his efforts. While warned over a communication link with Batman not to test him, Aquaman does by summoning a kraken. In response Superman, Green Lantern, Shazam, and Wonder Woman lift the entire city of Atlantis off the sea floor and carry it to dry deserts, putting its inhabitants in harm to bully Aquaman. He relents and as a result of this largely abstains from the conflict between the Regime (led by Superman) and the Insurgency (led by Batman). In Year Four, he gets involved when Batman informs him that the Greek gods have attempted to force their own rule over the world, so Aquaman and Mera take on Poseidon. He wins the conflict as his wife stalls a massive tidal wave from crashing on Themiscyra. Superman comes to Atlantis in Year Five to ensure the Regime has Aquaman's support, despite Aquaman having frequently made it clear he is not choosing sides. He agrees purely to get him to leave.
During the 2013 "Trinity War" storyline, Aquaman's Crime Syndicate counterpart is revealed to be Sea King. He apparently fails to survive the passage from Earth-3 to Prime Earth but is awakened in "Forever Evil: Blight" after being possessed by Deadman. The design of Sea King resembles that of 1990s Aquaman.
|Aquaman Archives, Vol. 1||Adventure Comics #260–280, 282; Showcase #30–31;||224||1-5638-9943-4|
|Showcase Presents: Aquaman, Vol. 1||Aquaman #1–6; Adventure Comics #260–280, 282, 284; A 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: The Search for Mera||Aquaman #40–48||216||978-1401285227|
|Aquaman: Death of a Prince||Aquaman #57–63; Adventure Comics #435–437, 441–455||336||978-1401231132|
|Aquaman: The Legend of Aquaman||Aquaman Vol. 3, #1–5; Aquaman Special #1||176||978-1401277932|
|Aquaman by Peter David Book One||Aquaman Vol. 4, #0–8; Aquaman: Time and Tide #1–4||344||978-1401277468|
|Aquaman by Peter David Book Two||Aquaman Vol. 4, #9–20; Aquaman Annual #1||344||978-1401281434|
|Aquaman: The Waterbearer||Aquaman Vol. 6, #1–4; Aquaman Secret Files||119||1-4012-0088-5|
|Aquaman: Sub Diego||Aquaman Vol. 6 #15–22||192||978-1401255107|
|Aquaman: To Serve and Protect||Aquaman Vol. 6 #23–31||224||978-1401263829|
|Aquaman: Kingdom Lost||Aquaman Vol. 6 #32–39||200||978-1401271299|
|Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis||Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #40–45||114||1-4012-1145-3|
|Aquaman: Time and Tide||Aquaman: Time and Tide #1–4||88||1-5638-9259-6|
|Aquaman: The Atlantis Chronicles Deluxe Edition||The Atlantis Chronicles #1–7||344||978-1401274399|
|Aquaman: Tempest||Tempest #1–4; Teen Titans Spotlight #10, #18||168||978-1401280482|
The New 52
|Aquaman Vol. 7 (2011)|
|1||The Trench||Aquaman Vol. 7 #1–6||144||1-4012-3551-4|
|2||The Others||Aquaman Vol. 7 #7–13||160||1-4012-4016-X|
|3||Throne of Atlantis||Aquaman Vol. 7 #0, 14–16; Justice League Vol. 2 #15–17||176||978-1401243098|
|4||Death of a King||Aquaman Vol. 7 #17–19, 21–25||192||978-1401246969|
|5||Sea of Storms||Aquaman Vol. 7 #26–31, Aquaman Annual #2, Swamp Thing Vol. 5 #32||208||978-1401250393|
|6||Maelstrom||Aquaman Vol. 7 #32–40, stories from Secret Origins Vol. 3 #2, 5||240||978-1401254414|
|7||Exiled||Aquaman Vol. 7 #41–47||200||978-1401260989|
|8||Out of Darkness||Aquaman Vol. 7 #48–52, Aquaman: Rebirth #1||144||978-1401268749|
|Aquaman and the Others (2014)|
|1||Legacy of Gold||Aquaman Vol. 7 #20, Aquaman Annual #1 and Aquaman and the Others #1–5||176||978-1401250386|
|2||Alignment: Earth||Aquaman and the Others #6–11, Aquaman: Futures End #1, and Aquaman and the Others: Futures End #1.||978-1401253318|
|#||Title||Material Collected||Pages||Publication date||ISBN|
|1||The Drowning||Aquaman: Rebirth #1, vol. 8 #1–6||192||January 17, 2017||978-1401267827|
|2||Black Manta Rising||Aquaman vol. 8 #7–15||212||April 18, 2017||978-1401272272|
|3||Crown of Atlantis||Aquaman vol. 8 #16–24||216||September 5, 2017||978-1401271497|
|4||Underworld||Aquaman vol. 8 #25–30||152||January 30, 2018||978-1401275426|
|5||The Crown Comes Down||Aquaman vol. 8 #31–33, Annual #1||144||July 10, 2018||978-1401280697|
|6||Kingslayer||Aquaman vol. 8 #34–40, Annual #2||128||December 18, 2018||978-1401285432|
|Aquaman/Suicide Squad: Sink Atlantis||Aquaman vol. 8 #39–40, Suicide Squad #45–46||February 19, 2019||978-1401290726|
|Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth||Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth #1, Justice League #9–12, Aquaman vol. 8 #40–41 and Aquaman/Justice League: Drowned Earth #1.||224||April 16, 2019||978-1401291013|
In other media
Since his comic book debut in November 1941, Aquaman has appeared in a number of adaptations. These formats include television shows, video games, and films.
Aquaman has made non-speaking appearances in the animated series Teen Titans Go!.
Within the live-action DC Extended Universe films, American actor Jason Momoa plays Aquaman, and the character made his feature film debut in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). Momoa reprised the role in Justice League (2017) and starred in his own film Aquaman (2018). This movie version of Aquaman is of Polynesian ethnicity, rather than the blond-haired White man he has traditionally been depicted as. Momoa's Aquaman has long, dark hair, a full beard, and extensive tattoos.
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." In a 2011 reader poll, Parade magazine ranked Aquaman among the Top 10 Superheroes of All Time.
By 2008, cultural critic Glen Weldon noted that Aquaman had become ridiculed by a popular mindset that cast him as an ineffectual hero. This was due to the perception that his heroic abilities were too narrow. Weldon wrote that critics and pop culture comedians who chose to focus on this had overplayed the joke, making it "officially the hoariest, hackiest arrow in the quiver of pop-culture commentary."
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