Why is Aquaman no longer a first-rate hero?

Back in the day, he was on a par with Green Lantern or the Flash. But eventually he was rewritten as an angry loner, taken out of active participation with the Justice League, and IIRC, he hasn’t had his own title in quite a while. Contrast him with how the Martian Manhunter has been revamped into a major JLA character after being moribund for a while. What do you suppose is the reason?

Aquaman has a current series that, if not a hot seller, seems to have a strongly loyal fan base. As far as I know, he is still in the JLA, and is always considered one of the “Big Seven” heroes of the DCU. While he’ll never be on the level of Green Lantern or Flash, I’d definitely rank him alongside Martian Manhunter and slightly ahead of Hawkman, Captain Marvel, and Green Arrow for popularity, respect, and “importance.” Sadly, his lame portrayal on the Super Friends cartoon has made him a bit of a joke compared to the others, but he’s actually known by mainstream people who don’t follow comics, which is more than Martian Manhunter (or even Green Lantern) can say.

…because where J’onn has Superman-class strength, shapeshifting, intangibility and mental powers, Aquaman has, um, wait a minute… the ability to talk to fish?

Seriously, I like Aquaman. But the early days of the JL had all of the members getting equal billing. "Hmmm, tornadoes in central Africa – send Superman and Black Canary. " That went away as the writers and the fans realized that some of the heroes were more powerful than others.

Aquaman is super-strong and does have minor mental powers, but he’s not in the same power class as the front-line heroes of the Justice League. And he’s not Batman.

On another level, he’s been poorly handled. IIRC, There was a lot of jacking around with him as a character in the 90s, messing with his relationship with Mera and Aqualad, making him not King of Atlantis any more, losing his hand, and so on. That kind of thing can take a toll on readership.

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**BBVL **has a point. Aquaman does have the name recognition that others – Black Canary or Green Arrow, for example – do not. I think my points above are still relevant, though. It really depends on what you mean by “first-rate hero.” Care to elaborate on that?

To the contrary, Peter David’s more grim and uncompromising Aquaman is the reason for his presnet levels of relative popularity. It took the character (which has always been rather tragic, dude lost his baby son back in teh '70’s) as far as possible from the near worthless fish whisperer of the early JLA and Superfriends.

The problem with Aquaman is that he’s not at his best outside of teh water. In the water, practically all other heroes and villains not made for him are quick useless. On his own, he rocks on toast.

I think, as is, he’s kinda boring. How long can he stay out of the water?

He needs the right writer/artist team to revamp him. Take the telepathic powers he uses to communicate with, and control marine life, and do a Pheonix-style power up. Give him the “psionic” ability to stay out of the water longer. Let him camouflage himself like an octopus so he can be invisible. Give him the power to regrow limbs (losing his hand was lame). Give him sharp poisonous spines like a lionfish. Do something with the costume. Make him Dark Aquaman for awhile.

Flash now fulfills the role originally given to Aquaman.

What role would that be?

The speed force gives him the ability to talk to fish.

“That’s SEA MAN! SEA MAN!”

I can’t remember who said it (Peter David?), but I think the point is apt. Paraphrased from memory:

“Remember, Aquaman is a character who commands three-quarters of the Earth’s surface, and is strong enough to dive into the deepest gorges of the ocean unarmed and not break a sweat. If you drop an unarmed Aquaman in the middle of Crime Alley at midnight, he could stomp anyone who dared to look cross-eyed at him. Drop an unarmed Batman in the middle of the Mariana Trench, and… bye-bye, Bats.”

The problem with Aquaman is that while he kicks unmitigated amounts of ass underwater, most criminals tend to stick to dry land where he’s only somewhat useful. He may be able to fight crime at the bottom of the Marianas Trench, but what crime is there to fight? He’s the only one who can stay down there for more than 20 minutes.

Really, what Aquaman needs to excite interest in the character again, is for another Jacques Cousteau to come along with a popular program about the oceans. Those of use approaching geezerhood will remember that back when Cousteau was on TV, there were tons of fiction programs which all featured aquatic characters and settings. Cousteau’s work helped fire the popular imagination and fueled the demand for such shows.

Well, given all that, it’s the writers who control the characters, and it probably gets rather tedious having to work a major marine disaster into every conflict they have the JLA engage in. He’s of such little use on a building rooftop, or in a jungle or desert on a faraway world. And when he is in his element, the rest of the JLA either isn’t there, or are all there so obviously out of their elements, with breathing masks, etc.

And it’s more difficult for the viewer to “relate” to underwater stuff - heck, in Spongebob everything takes place underwater yet the characters build campfires and go to the 'beach".

Do you think he’d last 20 minutes? :smiley:

If he prepared, with a 1920’s Style Death Ray, then yes.


We’ve gotten that out of the way.


rjung. 90% sure that’s actually a Grant Morrison quote.

Morrison did some interesting things with Aquaman during his Big Seven era to reimagine and expand other aspects of his abilities besides “talking to fish” – under Morrison, Aquaman could now adversely affect the ancient marine centers of human (and Martian) minds using telepathic blasts that caused seizures; he reminded readers of Aquaman’s postion as sovereign military leader of the oceans and its armed forces; he emphasized his swimming speed and ability to withstand ocean water pressures and near-bulletproof durability; he emphasized Aquaman’s visual acuity that allowed him to see in the pitch black depths of the oceans as well as as ‘night’; and finally, Aquaman became the JLA’s elistist skeptic curmungeon, with a fleeting flirtatious relationship with Wonder Woman that was also picked up on by writers Christopher Priest and Len Kaminski but was otherwise never fully explored.

That’s said, the limitations of the character due to his mastery of his element might be made a little more interesting if JLA writers would just do the obvious and show how he thrives in hostile oceanic environments (on Earth and elsewhere) while also showing how his fellow JLAers can’t: Superman, f’rinstance, would quickly lose his abilities if he were forced to live underwater away from the sun for any significant amount of time. Batman’s agility and fighting abilities would be severely compromised because of his need for a pressure diving suit and Flash would be likewise be substanitally slower, Wonder Woman would need some sort of breathing apparatus and Green Lantern would have to adjust from the vaccum of space to the swelling pressures of the oceans. J’onn J’onnz would likely be unaffected by all I’ve described but might have some curious psychological side effects.

Forever. He’s more vulnerable to dehydration than a normal human, but give him a large Gatorade and a humidifier and he’s good to go. With his new magic water hand, he may not even needs that. The “one hour and he dies” thing has been retconned away for years.

And they’ve done the “Dark Aquaman” thing. They’ve returned him to a more classic coustume, and replaced the hook with a magical water hand. Now he can heal and disrupt sorcery, on top of his telepathic abilities and enhanced physique.

For a detailed analysis of Aquaman’s abilites, see here. :dubious:

Whatever. :rolleyes: Ethilrist has it right with the Seanbabay page. Aquaman is a loser and always will be. No matter what some comic book nerds do to try to reinvent him. Right now, this modern day Aquaman just looks like Ariel’s dad from The Little Mermaid. So way to fail at trying to make him not 100% lame.

It sounds like the people working on the Aquaman comic books have a severe inferiority complex brought on by their character being incredibly gay.

Rip on Batman all you want comic book ink guy, but Batman and Robin would still be only still only 1% as shitty as an Aquaman movie.

If only The Life Aquatic with Steve Zizzou have done better in the box office.

Aquaman is well known because he was featured on the Superfriends cartoon. If the producers of that series had decided to buy the rights to Flash or Green Lantern instead, they might have made it to the big leagues.

Aquaman is a difficult character because he literally lives in a different environment. Some writers have tried to force him into the mainstream, interacting with superheroes and villains, but it’s always an awkward fit. It would be better if they would just abandon the surface world and portray Aquaman in his native world fulltime. Treat him like Sandman or Swamp Thing - a character who’s technically in the DC world but doesn’t hang out with Batman or fight Lex Luthor.