T-Shirt #221: And now a few words about Aquaman
As I mentioned Friday, my Aquaman entry has been in the works for months. This would be more impressive if I had actually written anything. Instead, I have read about Aquaman and pondered the key question: Why do I like Aquaman so much?
I fear becoming a bit of a broken record. I love most of the main superheroes. So, if I start each entry with a blanket statement of "I love so-and-so," this will become rather repetitive. And yet, with the exception of Nightwing, Aquaman is my favorite DC superhero. If I demote Nightwing to the sidekick role from whence he came (as the original Robin) of the big name superheroes, the original Justice League, Aquaman is far and away my favorite.
Once again, refer to T-shirt #62 for more on the Nightwing love. Why Aquaman?
He's king. It's a bit like the Arthurian epic. He's king of the seven seas. King of Atlantis. He is protector of environmental rights of the oceans. He can swim really fast. He has a hot lover/wife/queen. His costume is an unusual mix of bright colors.
But he was not the first ocean hero. the Sub-Mariner (Namor, which is ROMAN spelled backwards in case you never noticed that before) pre-dates Aquaman by two years, appearing in a comic for Funnies Inc. and created by Bill Everett. AQUAMAN came along in 1941 in issue 73 of DC Comics' More Fun Comics.
The image on today's shirt was created by Alex Ross, who I wrote about profusely in T-shirt #155. It's an excellent image and depicts Aquaman very well.
This has been one of my favorite shirts and most often worn shirts for years (since around 2008).
You also see me posing with the old MEGO Aquaman toy. I have referenced this toy several times as it has been visible in pictures of my office on this blog for months as I contemplated and wondered, what the heck am I going to write about Aquaman?
THE TROUBLE WITH THE BLOG - THE MAMMOTH
The trouble is the mammoth. I tend to think that I have to create a definitive entry, an enormous and impossibly long love letter to my subject especially when I only have one shirt devoted to that subject. At this time, this is my only Aquaman shirt, so I want to write everything about Aquaman that I can possibly think of to write. But I am holding back. I am going to obtain at least one more Aquaman shirt before the year is out. I will have more opportunities to deliver Aquaman love letter content. Still, the entry will be long as I have many links, many images, and a huge cover gallery.
1960s FILMATION SERIES
Surely, the root of my love for Aquaman goes back to the Filmation animated series from 1967 and 1968 as part of the Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. Aquaman was also one of the SuperFriends, the classic 1973 animated series.
VIDEO CLIPS FROM AQUAMAN FILMATION SERIES
MORE ON WHY AQUAMAN IS COOL
TEN REASONS AQUAMAN IS A BAD ASS
I have posted the link above (in my links list) to an article on the TEN reasons why Aquaman is "bad ass." I think the list is a good summary of why I love Aquaman: he is King of the Seas (as I already wrote), he does more than talk to fish, his wife is also a superhero, he travels through time and space, he deals with real loss, he commands armies, he played with deadly animals as a kid, he founded the Justice League, he doesn't have time for your crap, he fought gods and punched death, and he will throw a bear at you.
The last item alone is reason enough to check the link. Tossing polar bears = bad ass.
But the big item is the one this guy did not really number: HE'S KING. It's the reason the classic 1960s-1970s stories of Namor, Sub-Mariner at Marvel are so good. They focused on the kingdom and struggles with running the kingdom, being the king. Aquaman's great story line has always been his legacy and his role as King of Atlantis, which proclaims to hold dominion over all the seven seas.
When the comic provides the right mix of action stories and Atlantis kingdom stories, it is at its most successful. It's Arthurian. It's the stuff of legends.
Though I have been steeping myself in Aquaman lore to write this blog entry, I am going to restrict myself to the current run in the New 52 as to why Aquaman is such a compelling character and his stories are so rich and full of pathos.
SPOILER ALERT!!!!!! The following section contains SPOILERS. If you wish to read the recent run of Aquaman issues, skip the next section or read aware that you will have the story spoiled.
AQUAMAN CURRENT ISSUES - THE NEW 52
Not to overstate here, but the current run of Aquaman issues are among the best comics currently being published and always hit my the top of my list because of their quality and not just because I love the character so much.
In September of 2011, as part of DC's New 52 re-launch of the DC universe, the company published Aquaman #1 written by Geoff Johns, pencils by Ivan Reis, and inks by Joe Prado. Of all the New 52 books, it held the most promise and was surely the one that instantly captured my attention and jumped to the top of my stack.
I was not the only one impressed with the new Aquaman comic book. The new comic has become a regular mainstay in DC's top ten best-sellers every month. Issues five and six of the current run (see review for issue five in list below) outsold every Marvel comic those months (in early 2012). Generally, for 2013, Aquaman ranked overall in the 20s, somewhere from 21-29th, in overall sales by title, usually with sales of 50-60,000 individual comics.
From the start, this run of Aquaman comics re-defined the character and distinguished itself not only as one of the best DC Comics being published, but as one of the best superhero comic books being published today.
Charles Skaggs, author of the blog DAMN Good Coffee...and HOT! has reviewed both Aquaman #1 and Aquaman #5. His review of Aquaman #1 is linked below. His comments about the first issue do a better job than I could possibly do, and so I present some of them here. See the full review via the link.
"Seemingly on a mission, writer Geoff Johns goes right at all the misconceptions and jokes about Aquaman. He takes out some bank robbers by upending their getaway truck in the middle of the street with no ocean and no fish anywhere in sight. He walks right into a seafood restaurant and orders fish and chips, telling an obnoxious know-it-all that he doesn't talk to fish. And best of all, he shuts down said know-it-all riding him about being nobody's favorite superhero with nothing more than a hardened glare and a large, pointy trident. This could get a bit annoying if Johns oversells the "Aquaman isn't a joke" campaign issue after issue, but for now it's more than appreciated" (Skaggs, September 29 2011, DAMN GOOD COFFEE AND HOT - REVIEW AQUAMAN #1).
The first two story arcs are already collected in hardcover and trade paperback, available wherever comics are sold (such as the local shop FANFARE SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT, via Amazon, or any of the many online vendors of comic books). The third volume is due in November of 2013 and the fourth in May of 2014.
The first volume, THE TRENCH, introduces creatures from a trench at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, impossible depths unreachable by anyone but Aquaman. After volcanic activity opens the trench, the creatures make their way to the surface seeking food. The creatures capture dozens of humans to store as food for their people and their queen, taking their prey to the breeding ground in an extraterrestrial space craft at the bottom of the Atlantic, "from a time before Atlantis sank" Aquaman says. He defeats the queen, seals the trench off, and rescues the captured humans, kept alive in egg-like pods. The last two issues of the first volume continue to explore Aquaman's character, his past, and his relationship with Mera, whon in past continuity was his wife but in this version they are unmarried. Charles Skaggs review of issue five can be found below. Issue six, "Mera Unleashed," well establishes her character and her opposition to her father, defending Aquaman. The stories are all tightly written (Geoff Johns) and the art is masterful (Ivan Reis and Joe Prado). Aquaman's character is reinvigorated, and those creatures from the Trench are not only a new and terrible menace, but eventually factor into the story arc in the current issues (October-November 2013).
One of the strengths of the New 52 allows DC to re-start character history and continuity mid-stream. Most 52 comics started a few years into the story line of each hero, allowing for back story development as well as forward story progress. For those readers who like New 52, this is a way for DC to cherry pick what creators like from the rich history of the characters that runs in stories back to about 1938. But it also allows creators to invent new back story and history for characters, types of stories that would not have been told in the 1940s. Such is the case with Aquaman Volume Two: The Others. A grisly murder brings back together a group of super heroes that Aquaman led many years ago, before meeting Mera and before assuming the Throne of Atlantis. Just as Johns established a good relationship between Arthur (Aquaman) and Mera, he mixes it up with the introduction of Ya-Wara, one of the Others, a warrior accompanied by a black panther, wearing a bikini. Mera is not pleased. The Others re-unite to solve the murder of Kahina the seer, who we readers know was killed by Black Manta in the first chapter of the story. The Others are all interesting characters and evoke a wealth of history for Aquaman and all the adventures and experiences he had before the start of the New 52 stories.
The third volume, Throne of Atlantis, connects to a series of issues throughout the DC universe. Atlantis attacks the surface world. The Justice League respond. Whose side is Aquaman on? Paul Pelletier takes over art duties after Ivan Reis leaves the book. These issues explore Arthur's troubled past and his position in regards to Atlantis, will he re-take the throne? Classic Aquaman characters are re-introduced, such as Vulko and Tula, who in this incarnation is Aquaman's sister, shared with his brother Orm, the Ocean Master, acting King of Atlantis. In the end, Arthur must attend to things that have been happening in Atlantis, actions perpetrated by Atlanteans, while he was running around on the surface playing super hero with the Justice League. Meanwhile, Mera has problems of her own, trying to fit in with the "surface world." There's a final quote by Murk, a loyal soldier of Orm's, who tells Tula that "we can't trust the surface world to do right by us, Tula. They hate us," which sets up the future story lines and the rift between Atlanteans and surface dwellers.
The most recent story arc and what will become the fourth volume, Death of a King, is unfortunately the last for Geoff Johns, who is leaving the book with issue #24. As of the writing of this blog, a new writer has yet to be announced.
GEOFF JOHNS LEAVING AQUAMAN
AQUAMAN SHRINE REVIEW OF ISSUE #24
I am going to close my comments here, but I plan to return to re-cap and review this current story arc and write a rebuttal to the review of issue #24 linked above.
This is more than enough Aquaman content for now. I hope I have enticed you. If not the many images and links, may entice and inspire.
Why are you not reading this book? And if you are, good for you.
REVIEWS AND SUCH OF AQUAMAN IN THE NEW 52
DAMN GOOD COFFEE AND HOT - REVIEW AQUAMAN #1
DAMN GOOD COFFEE AND HOT - REVIEW AQUAMAN #5
GEEK NEWS - MTV - AQUAMAN NEW 52 REVIEW
CRAVE-ONLINE - AQUAMAN NEW 52 REVIEW
AQUAMAN RESPECT THREAD - NEW 52
THREAT QUALITY - NEW 52 AQUAMAN REVIEWS
VARIOUS AQUAMAN RESOURCES AND COOL LINKS
Do I expect any reader to click and investigate all these links? No, of course not. And this content may either move to my next Aquaman entry (once I buy another T-shirt or four) and/or be updated here. In any case, this is a good resource for Aquaman content. Not only is my blog searchable, but I added an Aquaman category. That's how special he is.
AQUAMAN - WIKIPEDIA
AQUAMAN DC WIKIA
Wow!! a site with daily Aquaman content. Plus the most current Aquaman news. Awesome.
THE AQUAMAN SHRINE - daily devotionals to Aquaman
THE UNOFFICIAL AQUAMAN WEB SITE
Wow!! A blog posting the ENTIRE run (over 500 issues) of DC's Adventure Comics. The Blogosphere continues to amaze me.
ADVENTURE COMICS BLOG - 1975
TEN REASONS AQUAMAN IS A BAD ASS
Aquaman's Finny Friends
The following also contains a list of links to other Aquaman content.
One good link: Aquaman Indexing: DC Special Series #1 - 1977
Yeah, SHOES... wish I could wear Converse. See yesterday's post for why I cannot (T-shirt #219).
CONVERSE - Aquaman shoes
My favorite blogger, Charles Skaggs, did a post back in July on why Aquaman is a risky search and leads to "toxic" websites. The Aqua-dude gets no respect!
Aquaman - Most risky Internet search
Leave it to the fans! If you have not heard of FILKING, then you have obviously never been to a geek fan con. Filking as a term came about as a typo of folk [music]. It is a special brand of music mostly performed at science fiction and other related types of conventions.
One of the premier filk bands of all time in the fan world (Ookla the Mok) has a song dedicated to Arthur Curry (aka Aquaman), which is considered of the band's "greatest hits."
Yesterday's filking is today's "fake movie trailer." Just last week, one fan posted this fake trailer for an Aquaman movie, which is hilarious and wonderful.
NOTE ON DATES: I originally published this post on Monday 10/28/13 (1310.28), but on Tuesday when I reverted it to draft to work on it and finish it, this changed the publication date. I thought the publication date was fixed once established. Not the case. Now I know. Just sayin', I did not miss a day.