Aquaman

aquaman-profile-AQM_Cv1_ds-v1-401x600-masthead.jpg
CHARACTER

Aquaman

The son of a lighthouse keeper and an Atlantean queen, Arthur Curry is the bridge between the surface world and his tumultuous realm of the sea.

Introduction

Aliases: Arthur Curry, Orin, King of the Seven Seas, The Waterbearer, The Dweller in the Depths
First Appearance: MORE FUN COMICS #73, 1941

 

 

 

Monarch of the undersea realm of Atlantis and King of the Seven Seas, Aquaman is one of the most powerful DC Super Heroes—commanding a kingdom that covers three-quarters of the Earth’s surface, including all the creatures contained within. Arthur Curry came from humble beginnings, as most of his life was spent exiled from his home, unaware of his noble origins. When he finally took the throne as an adult, he became the most legendary king in Atlantean history.

 

A founding member of the Justice League of America, Aquaman has fought alongside Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman and held his own against the biggest threats the universe has ever seen. Despite being misunderstood by many as someone who merely “talks to fish,” Aquaman’s super-strength and fighting prowess alone make him a force to be reckoned with. His telepathic abilities make him one of the most powerful minds on the planet. If one chooses to underestimate the sea king, they do so at their own peril. 

 

Origin

Golden Age (1941-1956)

First introduced in a backup story in 1941’s MORE FUN COMICS #73, Aquaman was a very different character in his early years than the one we’ve come to know today. In his first appearance, he was the son of a famous marine scientist, who used his scientific knowledge to give his boy the ability to breathe underwater, along with a degree of super-strength. In his earliest adventures, those were his only known powers. Although he made a home for himself in the ruins of the undersea kingdom of Atlantis, there was no indication he was anything other than an augmented human. Aquaman was even his real name. 

 

The majority of his earliest adventures found Aquaman fighting pirates, smugglers and Nazis, as well as threats to sailors and undersea life. Despite being a contemporary of many famous Golden Age heroes, Aquaman did not join the Justice Society of America or any other wartime team (though it would be revealed decades later that he teamed up with the All-Star Squadron in one adventure). Despite the many changes he would undergo in subsequent decades, Aquaman’s original Golden Age costume—an orange tunic and green tights—remained intact for over 50 years, the only major change being a pair of green gloves for which he exchanged his original yellow ones.

 

 

The Silver Age (1956-1969) 

aquaman-origin-ADVC_260_art_03-v1.jpg In the 1950s, when the Silver Age of comics began, Aquaman underwent several radical changes. It was revealed that his real name was actually Arthur Curry, the son of a human lighthouse keeper named Thomas Curry and an exiled Atlantean queen named Atlanna, whom Thomas had rescued from a storm. Unaware of where Atlanna had come from, Thomas Curry married her, and not long afterward Arthur was born. At two years old, Arthur went missing in the ocean, and although his father was sure he had drowned, he was found alive—playing with undersea creatures on the ocean floor. Soon afterward, Atlanna, on her death bed, revealed the truth about her heritage to her husband, and explained that Arthur had inherited all of her Atlantean abilities.

 

Tom Curry spent the rest of his life training and preparing Arthur for what he knew was a special destiny. When Tom Curry died, Arthur took to the ocean to find it. It was then that he discovered Atlantis—and was crowned its king. As the defender of Atlantis and all of the oceans, Arthur took on the name Aquaman. Soon he befriended a young outcast Atlantean boy named Garth, who would become Aqualad. Together with their animal companions Topo the octopus, Tusky the walrus and their giant seahorses Storm and Imp, the duo’s fame spread even to the surface world. 

 

At this time Aquaman became a founding member of the Justice League of America, and started a family when he married Mera, who came from the other-dimensional water world of Xebel. Together they had a son, Arthur Jr., who was nicknamed Aquababy. 

 

 

Post-Crisis (1985-2010) 

Following the continuity-altering events of 1985’s CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, much of Aquaman’s history changed. His given name was now Orin, the son of Queen Atlanna and the ancient Atlantean wizard Atlan, born heir to the throne of Atlantis. Atlanna was married to King Trevis, but they could not conceive a child together. Atlan then came to Atlanna in a dream and impregnated her, resulting in Orin’s birth. 

 

Trevis instantly realized Orin could not be his son because of his blond hair, which was also a sign of evil to the superstitious Atlanteans, due to a resemblance to the ancient, evil ruler Kordax. Trevis announced the newly born Orin as a miscarriage and left the infant to die on Mercy Reef, but his innate ability to communicate telepathically with sea life allowed him to survive. Eventually he was raised by dolphins, and his adopted dolphin mother Porm gave him the name Swimmer. He eventually left his dolphin family after fishermen killed his adopted brother Drin. 

 

His next contact with surface-dwelling humans would be more positive, as Orin was taken in by kindly lighthouse keeper Tom Curry in Amnesty Bay, Maine, and raised as his son. Curry taught him language and how to live on the surface world. He also named the boy Arthur before his death. Arthur then found himself in Alaska, where he fell in love with a young Eskimo woman named Kako. Their affair was brief, but it resulted in Kako becoming pregnant. Before too long, a demon named Nuliajuk forced Arthur to leave before learning about the pregnancy. 

 

Finally finding his people and returning to Atlantis, Arthur was arrested and sentenced to hard labor in a prison, where he was befriended by Vulko, a wise scholar who taught him to speak Atlantean and revealed his true parentage to him. Arthur then escaped and returned to the surface world, where he became a Super Hero. Upon meeting Barry Allen (a.k.a. the Flash), he was given the name Aquaman. When Aquaman finally returned to Atlantis, he discovered his old friend Vulko had led a revolution against the corrupt regime, and claimed his birthright as the King of Atlantis. 

 

 

The New 52 (2011-2016)

aquaman-essential6-new52-AQM_Cv1_ds2011-1-v1.jpg Following 2011’s FLASHPOINT event, much of Aquaman’s history was again altered. He was once more the son of lighthouse keeper Tom Curry and Queen Atlanna of Atlantis, and he grew up in Amnesty Bay. When her father died, Atlanna returned to Atlantis to take the throne, so Tom was forced to raise Arthur alone. As a child Arthur developed powers, having inherited his mother’s abilities. To understand him better, Tom sought help from Dr. Stephen Shin, a scientist he had once saved from a storm.

 

Tom expected Shin would help train Arthur in the use of his powers. But Shin became obsessed with Atlantis, and attempted to release his findings to the public. Tom Curry managed to destroy all of Shin’s research except a vial of Arthur’s blood. Shin hired the bounty hunter Black Manta to steal the vial from the Curry home. But when Tom Curry encountered Manta, the stress from the ensuing fight caused Tom to suffer a heart attack. He died soon after. Arthur tracked Black Manta down and accidentally killed his father, believing he was Manta. Arthur was then brought to Atlantis by his mother’s royal adviser Vulko. 

 

Arthur ruled over Atlantis for a brief time, until his half-brother Orm, the son of Atlanna and her second husband, took the throne. Arthur went on to form the Others, a team composed of outcasts, who traveled the world searching for ancient Atlantean weapons so they could be kept from those who would use them to do harm. Among these artifacts was the Trident of Neptune, which Aquaman kept before eventually parting ways with the Others. After leaving the Others, Aquaman became a founding member of the Justice League. And just as in the previous timeline, Arthur met and fell in love with Mera, a Xebellian princess sent to kill him. After Orm declared war on the surface world, Arthur defeated him and was crowned king. 

 

Powers and Abilities

aquaman-powers-AQM_35_17_col-v1.jpg Aquaman can swim at tremendous speeds and breathe underwater. His ability to withstand the ocean depths gives him superhuman strength and nearly impenetrable skin on land. Due to his half-human/half-Atlantean heritage, he has a number of abilities that are unique to him, and not exhibited by either side of his parent species. Unlike most Atlanteans, he can spend an extended time on dry land with no negative consequences, and has been shown to be up to 50 times stronger and faster than both a normal surface-dwelling human and an average Atlantean. 

 

Aquaman can also telepathically communicate with sea life and compel them to do whatever tasks he requires them to perform — summoning a great white shark to act as a bodyguard, for example. He’s also been known to affect land-dwelling creatures with his telepathy, by accessing the brains inherited from common marine ancestors. With great effort, Aquaman has been capable of sending out worldwide telepathic broadcasts.

 

Due to his royal bloodline, Aquaman can harness magical power through his Trident and can manifest a certain amount of mystical energy even without it. With these powers, he can resist enchantments and spells more strongly than almost anyone, air- or water-breather alike. With his Trident, Aquaman can also generate magical energy blasts, as well as create force fields when needed.

 

 

 

 

Essential Storylines and History

Introducing the Undersea Icon (MORE FUN COMICS #73, 1941)

aquaman-essential1-goldenage-4913.ME.MFC.73.58-v1.jpg Although much of Aquaman’s history has changed since his early days, he exhibited several of his long-standing abilities in his first appearance. He also debuted his iconic orange-and-green outfit as he emerged from the ocean depths and rode a dolphin to save a group of innocent seamen from a Nazi submarine. Here he revealed his first origin—as the son of a marine scientist who found a way for Aquaman to breathe underwater.  

 

 

A New History (ADVENTURE COMICS #260, 1959)

In 1959’s ADVENTURE COMICS #260, Aquaman got a new origin, some 15 years after his first appearance. In this issue, when a U.S. military submarine faces a dangerous situation while testing a new type of atomic warhead, Aquaman mentally commands various forms of sea life to help him disarm the weapons. The sub’s captain then asks Aquaman how he got his amazing powers, and Aquaman reveals that his mother Atlanna of Atlantis married human lighthouse keeper Tom Curry. This issue marked the first time Aquaman’s name—Arthur Curry—was given. 

 

 

“Death of a Prince” (ADVENTURE COMICS #435-437, #441-455, AQUAMAN #57-63, 1974-1978)

One of Aquaman’s most tragic yet defining moments occurred in the years-long “Death of a Prince” storyline, which began in the pages of ADVENTURE COMICS. During this saga, King Arthur was attacked by some of his worst enemies, most notably Black Manta.

 

When Aquaman was removed from his reign by a democratic election and exiled, Black Manta seized his opportunity for vengeance. He kidnapped Aquaman’s son, Arthur Jr., and suffocated him in oxygen, while Aquaman was forced to fight his surrogate son Aqualad to the death. This story arc brought a sense of pathos to the character he hadn’t previously possessed, defining Aquaman for all time.

 

 

Atlantis Extreme (AQUAMAN #0-8, 1994-1995)

Following 1985’s CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, Aquaman’s origin story was reimagined in the limited series TIME AND TIDE. Soon after, Aquaman would see the return of his ongoing series, casting him in a new light. In these stories, Arthur Curry grew broody and introspective, after learning he was linked to a long Atlantean dynasty of ruthlessness and betrayal. 

 

Arthur Curry also suffered a terrible injury at the hands of a new villain, losing his hand to man-eating piranhas. He then chose to replace his hand with a harpoon. Emerging from the ocean depths with this new look, topped off with long, shaggy hair and a beard, Aquaman entered a new era as a no-nonsense warrior king, setting the tone for his reign in the 1990s.

 

 

Death and Rebirth (AQUAMAN: SWORD OF ATLANTIS #40-45, 2006-2007)

aquaman-essential5-postinfinitecrisis-CV-AQUA040-1-v1.jpg After decades as Aquaman, following the INFINITE CRISIS event Arthur was transformed into a being who lacked the memory of his past, called the Dweller in the Depths. Subsequently, the title of Aquaman was given to a young man from the surface with the familiar name of Arthur Joseph Curry. With a suit of armor reminiscent of Aquaman’s classic costume, and armed with a mystical sword, this new, young Aquaman discovered he had a mystical connection to the Dweller in the Depths. 

 

 

“The Trench” (AQUAMAN #1-7, 2011-2012)

Following 2011’s FLASHPOINT, Aquaman moved to the Boston area, where the locals looked down on him as a “useless” Super Hero and the weak link of the Justice League. He proved them wrong when he dealt with a waterfront attack by an underwater race of carnivorous beings called “the Trench.” Afterward, Arthur had to face whether or not he could bring himself to destroy an entire race to save innocents, no matter how monstrous they were. 

 

 

“The Drowning” (AQUAMAN #1-4, 2016)

Following the events of 2016’s DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1, Aquaman dedicated himself to forming a true union between Atlantis and the surface world after an attack on the latter by his brother Orm. He created Spindrift Station, an embassy for Atlantis, embodying his dreams of true peace between both of his peoples. His dream, however, was shattered when his archenemy Black Manta infiltrated the station, killing several innocent people, and again forcing Aquaman’s hand toward violence. 

 

Team Affiliations

  • • Justice League
  • • Justice League International
  • • The Others
  • • All-Star Squadron

Appearances in Other Media

Television

Main Character Appearances

 

Live Action:

  • • Smallville
  • • Mercy Reef

 

 

Animation:

  • • Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure
  • • Super Friends
  • • Challenge of the Super Friends
  • • World’s Greatest Super Friends
  • • Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show
  • • The Aquaman & Friends Action Hour
  • • Justice League 
  • • Justice League Unlimited
  • • Batman: The Brave and the Bold
  • • Young Justice

 

 

Guest Appearances/Cameos

 

Animation:

  • • Superman: The Animated Series
  • • Teen Titans Go!

 

 

Film

Main Character Appearances

 

Live Action:

  • • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
  • • Justice League
  • • Aquaman

 

Animation:

  • • Justice League: The New Frontier
  • • Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
  • • Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
  • • Justice League: Throne of Atlantis
  • • DC Super Heroes vs. Eagle Talon
  • • JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time
  • • Justice League Dark
  • • The LEGO Batman Movie
  • • Scooby-Doo & Batman: The Brave and the Bold
  • • The Death of Superman
  • • Teen Titans Go! to the Movies
  • • LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes - Aquaman: Rage of Atlantis

 

 

Video Games

  • • Justice League Task Force
  • • Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis
  • • Justice League Heroes
  • • Batman: The Brave and the Bold
  • • DC Universe Online
  • • LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
  • • LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
  • • Infinite Crisis 
  • • LEGO Dimensions 
  • • LEGO DC Super-Villains
  • • Injustice: Gods Among Us
  • • Injustice 2