Few superheroes catch as much flack from society at large than Aquaman. Off the top of my head, the only others possibly more derided are Robin and Ace & Gary from the old SNL skits. I have nothing better to do, so I’d like to explore and possibly even challenge the popular view of this venerable mer-man.
The primary criticism leveled at the character is that his powers suck, where nothing could be further from the truth. He’s DIESEL, and we’re not talking about drag racing and participating in “let’s see who the worst actor is” contests. Since he is able to endure the immense pressure and severe cold of the deep ocean, on land he has developed super strength and is virtually bulletproof. He can telepathically command sea life to do his bidding, and can swim ridiculously fast. Oh, and did I mention he can survive indefinitely under water? When compared to other Justice Leaguers, he can stand toe to toe with almost all of them. Plus, they have released some pretty cool toys of him to boot.
To be truthful, I wasn’t always a big fan of Aquaman myself. I always found him and Namor (his Marvel correllary) to be pretty weak sauce, similar to my feelings towards rappers like Soulja Boy, Young Jeezy, and lots of other corny sounding motherlovers. However, when my brother introduced me to the New 52 series that DC had developed this completely changed.
Three pages into the first issue and I was mesmerized, both by the artwork and the compelling story. Geoff Johns, now legendary for his skills in reinvigorating stagnant characters, finally found a way to make Aquaman interesting. What I enjoyed best was that Johns embraced the ridicule the real world expresses towards the character, weaving it into Aquaman’s relationship with the surface world in the comic itself. This, combined with the rejection he feels from his Atlantean brethren, provides previously absent character depth via his resulting identity conflict. Plus he has Mera, his straight ride-or-die wifey who is always down to put in work.
Characterization aside, he’s got mad squabbles. Aquaman wrecks fools left and right; they are most definitely pitied by Mr. T and anyone else in the remote vicinity. He impales more busters with his trident than Brick Tamland, and he killed a guy . He has legions of killer sharks on speed dial, making Jaws and Shark Week look like feel-good fare the whole family can enjoy.