Written By Desi LaSalle
I once remember watching TV and seeing some old cartoons of the Super Friends on a Saturday morning. Immediately, feeling attracted to a certain character that was not Superman or Batman, I found myself really liking Aquaman. My friends would just make fun of me as they said all he can do is breathe underwater and talk to fish! I would argue with them for days and it didn’t get easier when I saw some older cartoons from the 60’s and saw him riding a sea horse, swimming with Aqualad. At the time I did not know that Aquaman was one of DC’s oldest characters. He made his first appearance in Fun Comics #73 in November 1941! Yikes! Created by Mort Weisinger and artist Paul Norris, he had a very distinctive orange and green costume that really stood out, they called him “The King of the Seas!”. That really resonated with me! He sounded like a very powerful hero, and yet, all I heard about him was jokes.
He was shrugged off as a second-rank hero and very uncool. This stigma remained with Aquaman for years. Yet, in October of 1984, I thought this would all change as it would become apparent that in Justice League of America Annual #2, the league breaks up and Aquaman forms his own team with Martian Manhunter, Zatanna, Vixen, Elongated Man, Vibe, Gypsy and Steel. Now finally Aquaman would get his due. Though once again, only one year later, a lot of bad writing would place Aquaman in limbo. He was poorly developed as a character and not taken seriously, boy was I sad. I always thought that his potential was untapped, then finally in August 1994, DC took a chance and released an Aquaman vol. 3 comic book written by the great Peter David and drawn by Martin Egeland. I bought the comic book immediately and just by looking at the cover I was blown away. It had an Aquaman with long hair and a scraggly beard, he looked badass! In issue two we saw him lose a hand and replace it with a harpoon! Eventually we saw him with a more gladiator look and a somewhat different, altered costume. He was a Super-Atlantean, with superhuman strength, speed, marine telepathy, and the attributes of a true leader and mystical being!
Now all of sudden my friends were not making jokes anymore, they were buying the comic and praising him. Seeing Aquaman go toe to toe with the likes of Lobo, Superboy and Wonder Woman opened a lot of eyes and shed a whole new light on Aquaman. The supporting cast of this comic was also superbly depicted by Peter David. Characters like Mera, Dolphin Vulko and Aqualad were the perfect combination. Also villains such as Mantis, Atlan, Triton, Koryak and Doctor Polaris were taken to new heights. No longer considered a joke, Aquaman was now a bonafide powerhouse and a respected founding member of the Justice League. Even in the most recent DC, new 52, and animated movie The King of The Seas, he is portrayed as a complete badass. Aquaman vol. 3 lasted 75 great issues. It had a ‘Game of Thrones’ vibe to it before we had Game of Thrones. The story and art was mostly flawless but its run, most importantly, made a very big contribution to the Aquaman character overall. It made everyone realize just how cool he can actually be. I can only hope that DC follows this train of thought with the portrayal of this character in his upcoming movie. All hail the King!!!