‘Aquaman’ is the #1 movie in the world at the moment and has already made more at the box office than ‘Justice League’ did in its entire run. At the rate it’s going, ‘Aquaman’ looks quite likely to become Warner Brother’s top-grossing DC superhero movie. Not bad for a guy that talks to fish, huh? For years– decades really– Aquaman has been a super punchline among comic fans, so it’s beyond remarkable that this hero’s movie is doing such blockbuster business. And while many have questioned how useful his most famous powers are, the character has lasted longer than almost any other comic book hero and has accomplished more than they have to boot.
Aquaman was originally created by writer Mort Weisinger and artist Paul Norris and made his debut in 1941’s ‘More Fun Comics’ #73, published by National Periodicals/DC Comics. Want to know more? Read on!
1. Aquaman Is One Of The Only Superheroes To Survive Between The Golden And Silver Ages
Aquaman first appeared in ‘More Fun Comics’ #73 in 1941 and has never stopped appearing since. The only other superheroes from any publisher to also continuously appear between the Golden and Silver Ages were Batman (and Robin), Superman, and Wonder Woman, who all starred in their own eponymous titles, and Green Arrow, who, like Aquaman, survived by appearing in an anthology title featuring other, non-super strips.
DC would relaunch its superhero titles in the mid-50s, but between the end of World War II and then, aside from these five champions, all other masked mystery men and women vanished.
2. Aquaman Was The 2nd DC Hero To Be Animated
Superman, of course, made the leap from the comic book page to animation in the Fleischer Studios shorts of the 1940s. In 1967, Filmation produced animated series for both ‘Superman’ and ‘Aquaman’ which aired as the ‘Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure’. The Aquaman shorts included his sidekick Aqualad, plus love interest Mera. Aquaman and Aqualad rode around on their seahorses Storm and Imp, respectively, and were also accompanied by a walrus named Tusky. As those who have seen it know, on this series, Aquaman was given a more offensive power, the ability to hurl hard water balls at his enemies,which included Black Manta, among others.
In 1968, Filmation paired a new ‘Batman’ animated series– the Caped Crusader’s first– with ‘Superman’, but ‘Aquaman’ swam on in his own series. There were 36 ‘Aquaman’ episodes total, and they are readily available on DVD.
3. He Was Also One Of The First To Get His Own Action Figure (Kind Of)
In 1966, the Ideal toy company made an action figure rival for Hasbro’s GI Joe. What made Captain Action unique is that kids (or their parents) could buy outfits that allowed them to redress Captain Action and his sidekick Action Boy as other, more famous heroes. Aquaman was one of the first outfits made available for Captain Action. As you can see, not only did the kit come with a costume and weaponry, but a mask to complete the look.
Action Boy could also be redressed as Aqualad. But it didn’t stop there!
For whatever reason, Ideal did not create a single generic female counterpart to Captain Action, but they did release four Super Queens dolls– Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl and Mera, who could be paired with Captain Action in his various guises. Unfortunately, in 1967, boys didn’t buy “dolls” and girls didn’t like superheroes. These sold very poorly and are highly valuable today, due to their scarcity. (Even loose, they sell for over $500, or thousands if in the box or in extremely good shape.)
Aquaman got his first proper action figure in 1972, as part of Mego’s World’s Greatest Super Heroes line. In 1976, Aqualad was added as part of a Teen Titans subset. In addition to a basic action figure, Aquaman was later packaged with a mechanical shark in a set called “Aquaman and the Great White Shark” around the time ‘Jaws’ was a hit.
4. Superman’s Not The Only One Who Can “Leap Tall Buildings In A Single Bound”
As was established in the movie, Aquaman can move underwater with the same swiftness and ease that ordinary people do on land. Not only that, but he can out-swim the fastest boat or submarine. Naturally, on dry land, that strength translates to him being incredibly swift, with legs strong enough to leap great distances as easily as a regular person hops over a pothole.
5. And Is Also Bulletproof
Along those same lines, the pressures of the ocean depths are enough to crush a submarine like an empty aluminum soda can. Since Aquaman can handle that with no effort, on land, that makes him super strong and bulletproof.
6. On The Other Hand, He Had One Of The Worst Weaknesses
Back in the Golden and Silver Ages, superheroes had to have the dumbest Achilles Heels– Green Lantern’s was the color yellow, Martian Manhunter’s was fire– but Aquaman’s was one of the worst. He had to immerse himself in water once an hour or he would die! Makes those long trips into space with the Justice League rather questionable. Later, it was altered to him “only” having to come into contact with water every 24 hours. Nowadays, we just don’t talk about it.
7. Arthur Curry Was One Of The First Super Family Men, Unfortunately…
In 1964, it was rare for superheroes to settle down, but Aquaman became one of the first to get married. Not only that, but he and Mera soon had a baby, Arthur Jr. also called Aquababy. (Marvel’s Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Girl didn’t get hitched until the following year.)
Alas, things didn’t go well. In 1977’s ‘Adventure Comics’ #452, Black Manta kidnapped Aquababy/Arthur Jr. Despite the efforts of both Aquaman and Mera, Aquababy died of suffocation after being kept out of water for too long. (See #6)
This was 1977! Sure readers had seen their fair share of parents and uncles killed to motivate certain heroes, but a TODDLER?! What the hell were they thinking?!
This ultimately caused Aquaman and Mera to separate, and because she is a woman in a comic book, Mera also went insane to boot.
The couple were later reunited, although DC has since rebooted its comics and in the new continuity, Aquaman and Mera are not yet married and have never had a child.
8. One Of His Sidekicks Is The Son Of His Worst Enemy
Aquaman has had numerous sidekicks over the years. His first Aqualad was an Atlantean orphan named Garth. Later, Garth’s girlfriend Tula would sometimes act as Aquagirl, until her death in ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’. In 2004, a new Aquagirl, Lorena Marquez, was introduced and though she hasn’t appeared in a while, seems to still be alive and well… somewhere.
In 2011, after Garth had assumed a new name, Tempest, a new Aqualad was created cooperatively between the comic books and the then-upcoming ‘Young Justice’ animated series. This version was Kaldur’ahm a.k.a. Jackson Hyde, an African American teen who can manipulate water. In both the comics and TV series, it is revealed that he is the long-lost son of Aquaman’s nemesis Black Manta.
On ‘Young Justice’, Kaldur’ahm was raised in Atlantis, whereas in the comics, Jackson Hyde (his surface name) was raised by adoptive parents in the desert of New Mexico, to keep him far away from large bodies of water.
Online, fans are campaigning hard for Kaldur’ahm to be introduced in ‘Aquaman 2’.
9. Aquaman Had One Of The First (Secret) Inter-Company Crossovers With Namor The Sub-Mariner
Both Aquaman and Marvel’s Namor the Sub-Mariner premiered in the Golden Age of comics and were water-based heroes. Both were the sons of the Queens of their respective versions of Atlantis and both eventually assumed the crown of King.
And both wound up being written by Steve Skeates. In 1971’s ‘Aquaman’ #56, Skeates ended the issue with Aquaman pressing a button to destroy a satellite that had been shining sunlight on Detroit nonstop, eliminating nighttime and causing algae to grow to monstrous proportions. (The satellite was created by a well-meaning do-gooder because most crime happened at night, so by getting rid of night… see the logic, there?)
That happened to be the last issue of that run of ‘Aquaman’. Two years later, Skeates was writing for Marvel, and replicated the ‘Aquaman’ #56 closing scene, in ‘Sub-Mariner’ #72, with only Aquaman’s glove shown pressing the button, and mis-colored blue. Though his face isn’t shown, he does utter almost the same dialogue from that last scene in ‘Aquaman’ and the scene closes with the destruction of the satellite.
It turns out the satellite’s destruction unleashed an algae monster! Skeates even wrote in the fact that the ‘Aquaman’ scene took place two years prior and that in the ensuing time, the creature grew to the point that it could make its move. But have no fear, the Sub-Mariner defeated it soundly.
Coincidentally, this was also the last issue of ‘Sub-Mariner’ although both books would later be revived repeatedly and the heroes continued to appear elsewhere.
Decades later, in the 1996 event miniseries ‘DC vs. Marvel’, Aquaman and Namor fought, with Aquaman winning after he dropped a whale on Namor.
10. Aquaman’s Outrageous Connection To ‘Flash (Ahhhhh-ahhhh) Gordon’
Through most of his existence, Aquaman has had a fairly mild personality. However, for the 2008 animated series ‘Batman: The Brave and the Bold’, the character was dramatically reinvented. Shouting his battle cry, “OUTRAGEOUS!” this bearded Aquaman had an exuberance that couldn’t be contained, and while he seemed to passionately love EVERYTHING, smashing villainy was clearly his favorite past time.
Voiced by John DiMaggio (Bender on ‘Futurama’, Jake on ‘Adventure Time’ and many more), this uninhibited take on the Sea King was a clear inspiration for Jason Momoa’s swaggering, fun-loving take, but DiMaggio and the creators of the show drew inspiration from another cinematic classic, ‘Flash Gordon’. In particular, the ‘Brave and the Bold”s Aquaman was inspired by Brian Blessed’s battle-loving Prince Vultan.
Notice the similarity?
It’s been a long journey to the surface for the Sea King. He’s endured playing fifth fiddle on the ‘Super Friends’, left out of most DC merchandise pushes, and ‘Entourage’. But he’s finally enjoying his day in the sun.
Does any of this information make you enjoy the ‘Aquaman’ movie any more… or less? React in the comments below!
‘Aquaman’ is now playing in theaters everywhere.