There are superheroes out there whom everyone is familiar with, and despite the fact that a character’s attitude and history can change over time, most people have an idealized version of how certain heroes should be: Batman is the brooding tough guy, Spider-Man is the wise cracking funny man and Superman is the invincible goody two-shoes. These perceptions are usually reinforced by depictions of the characters in other media.
Today’s focus is a character whose perception by the general public has unfortunately done more to hurt the character than help him, a character whose powers were thought of as boring—a description that has become attached to his name. That is, until the all-star comic book team Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis got a hold of him: Aquaman.
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Aquaman is in many ways the A-list superhero that everybody overlooks, not helped by his comedic portrayal in the Super Friends cartoon, where the character was seen as little more than a punch line.
The most common complaint I hear about Aquaman is the fact that his powers aren’t special, specifically his ability to communicate telepathically with sea life.
Many say he’s useless on land because of this. The thing is, Aquaman has never been the lame superhero everyone thinks him to be. He’s a skilled warrior, he can summon sea monsters at will, and he’s king of Atlantis.Aquaman was born Arthur Curry on land as the son of an Atlantean royal and a lighthouse keeper.
He was raised on the surface until his father told him of his mysterious origins.
Faced with the choice of taking his rightful place as king of Atlantis and defending the surface dwellers from the forces of evil, Arthur chose the path of the superhero, and the rest is history. In this issue, Aquaman has just witnessed his nemesis Black Manta murder one of his best friends in cold blood, and now he’s out for revenge. We begin with Aquaman mourning the death of his friend. With him is his wife Mera, a sorceress from Atlantis, and a group of rag-tag heroes Arthur belonged to called The Others.
The only thing he can say is, “Manta dies next.” Manta escapes, leaving Aquaman and his company to die. They escape, and we are treated to a nice scene where Arthur laments past events where he murdered a man and we learn that Aquaman is only a disguise for who he really is.
Mera gives him a pep talk, telling him that the world needs Aquaman and that mistakes of the past cannot be erased, only atoned for.
It’s a very nice scene that shows the love and chemistry between these two characters. Meanwhile, Manta is delivering an artifact that he stole to his boss, but Aquaman and The Others stop him. Aquaman then deduces the one who’s really behind all of this is his half-brother, the villainous Ocean Master.
In the midst of the fight, Aquaman has a chance to kill Manta, but chooses not to. The story ends with Arthur and Mera returning home. Author Geoff Johns is a fine writer and I will continue to recommend his work. If you want to check him out for yourself, pick up works like Flashpoint, Blackest Night or his adaptation of Green Lantern.
One thing that’s evident in his writing is the fact that he’s a fan of the superheroes he grew up with and doesn’t want them to fade into television obscurity; hence his choice to bring Aquaman back into mainstream comics.
When the book wants to be emotional, the emotion is conveyed; when it wants to be funny, it also does a fine job. This is superhero writing at its best.
Ivan Reis, the artist, was the artist on Blackest Night, one of Geoff Johns’ more notable stories, so the two are used to working together. He has a talent for depicting action and violence, but never to any excess.
This was a fine story. Great action, great character moments and great artwork are all on display.
Aquaman has always deserved better than to be thought of as the butt of the joke, and it’s good to see that someone is trying make the character the awesome hero he deserves to be.
Wes Serafine can be contacted at