I know I’m not the first person to comment on this, but I’m really pleased with the new Aquaman. Anyone who watched the old Super Friends show no doubt wonders what the point of our finny friend is: he can swim, right, and communicate with fish? To anyone who just watched the show, Aquaman must have seemed only marginally more useful than Bouncing Boy. (A true Ronseal hero, the name said it all.) There’s even a song, Aquaman’s Lament, in which the hero bemoans his general uselessness.
I liked the way that the first issue of the New 52 tackled that head-on. An obnoxious fan-boy accosts Aquaman while he’s at a diner, and asks him what it’s like to be nobody’s favourite super-hero. Our hero stalks out, while all the readers are silently urging him to USE THE TRIDENT. Even the cops don’t take him seriously. Even when he saves them.
Over the course of the next few issues, which are collected in Vol. 1, The Trench, we learn a great deal more about Atlantis and Aquaman’s place in it and on the surface world. And we start to care about a character who was considered by many a joke. So far from laughing him off, DC now has a spin-off series, Aquaman and the Others, with our hero leading an international team of rather unusual heroes.
Along with a trident that shoots blasts of electricity, Aquaman has super strength and agility, telepathic abilities and the armies of Atlantis at his call. Also, Earth is the Blue Planet. Someone whose beat is the ocean is basically covering most of the world. (This also gets round the “why doesn’t Superman fix it” question, since presumably he’s got his hands full with the surface world.) This is a man so determined that when (pre-52) he lost an arm to piranhas, he simply put a harpoon prosthesis in its place and kept on going.
If you’ve read my piece on Hawkman, you’ve probably worked out that I like stuff that Geoff Johns does. The irony is, when I started reading Aquaman I never paid any attention to who was writing or drawing it, so I can only assume that he likes the same old characters that I do. (The fact that he did a JSA series is proof of this.)
At any rate, Aquaman has become cool. Although I have to confess that a recent scene in a Wonder Woman comic where she was having a heart-to-heart with him did bring back some bad Super Friends memories. (Having said that, when they teamed up in Aquaman Annual #2, it was a pretty good story. I like mythological stuff, and the two of them aren’t an obvious matchup, which makes it interesting.)
There’s now talk of an Aquaman movie, which could be pretty neat now that DC seems to have developed a way of dealing with their second-tier characters like Flash and Green Arrow. (And now, Firestorm and Atom.) Both those TV shows work pretty well, so if they can deliver a similar story based around the personal issues that a half-Atlantean faces as well as some cool CGI on a movie budget, this could go places. Like the Justice League movie we’re all looking forward to.
A further thought – Arthur’s wife Mera would be a cool addition to an Aquaman movie. She is almost as powerful as Sue Storm of the Fantastic Four, except that she moulds water rather than force fields. Think how cool that would look.
And if you liked the image at the top, click here.