Revenger Research: A Comic Book Guide To AQUAMAN
If you’re reading this, you’re probably getting ready to see Aquaman when it arrives in theaters later this week (you can read our review for it RIGHT HERE), or maybe you have seen it already and are now interested to get to know the character and his mythology a little better. Regardless of the case let me give you a quick resounding warning, the comic book iteration of Aquaman is nothing, and I repeat, nothing, like Jason Momoa’s portrayal in the recent DCU movies. If you want more Aquabro, you aren’t going to find him in any of these stories.
That being said, the character is still pretty badass and while there might have been some “down” or “boring” stories in the character’s history, I’d say the following tales exemplify how much fun the character can be in the right creator’s hands.
So without further ado here are some excellent Aquaman stories to check out!
Aquaman: The Atlantis Chronicles (Mini-Series)
Writer Peter David and artist Esteban Maroto tell the origins of Atlantis shortly after the great deluge. The story is pivotal, as it would serve as the foundations for Aquaman’s origin when Peter David would later return to the character.
Aquaman: Time and Tide (mini-series)
Peter David returns to continue Arthur’s origin giving us the revelation of Ocean Master (Orm) being Aquaman’s brother, that his father was Atlan a great Atlantean Wizard and many other subplots which would prove important in the ongoing series for Aquaman. Also many elements from Time and Tide, Atlantis Chronicles and the fifth volume of Aquaman played heavily into the recent movie.
Aquaman: Vol. 5
Peter David picks up where he left off and re-invents the character entirely. Arthur undergoes a dramatic physical alteration (and in some ways inspired the long hair/beard look of Jason Momoa’s version). David stayed on the book until around issue #46. After that even with some talented writers, it all kind of goes downhill.
Brightest Day #0-24
So at some point between Vol. 5 and the major DC event Brightest Day, Aquaman died. I’d go into detail on what happened, but it’s all very convoluted and messy. Hence why writer Geoff Johns came in and tried to resurrect and “fix” a lot of what was ailing DC Comics at the time. Amongst a few characters resurrected and revamped, Aquaman found himself adjusting to being alive again and dealing with needing to find a new Aqualad while working on his relationships in the DC world and Mera. As usual, Johns does some terrific work here, and makes the character enjoyable again.
Aquaman New 52-Rebirth
After DC Comics underwent a major retcon (completely reworking history, look and story details of all their characters) in 2011, Geoff Johns took over writing duties again for Aquaman. This time the character’s origins were tweaked to be the actual son of Tom Curry (lighthouse operator) and Atlanna (former queen of Atlantis). The series starts off strong, and gives a cool sense of where Aquaman fits in the greater DC Comics universe. It’s also very self-aware of how the character for the longest time is essentially looked upon as a joke (talks to fish) which allows Johns to carefully construct his story to make Arthur a real badass (although not quite to the level of Momoa’s). When DC comics decided that the NEW 52 “concept” had lost its way, and wanted to “return to basics” for their characters, Aquaman was again relaunched for an eight volume. This time written by Dan Abnett, the series deals with Arthur’s role as king of Atlantis, mixed with political intrigue, big action sequences, and some really excellent story telling. Above all, I’d highly recommend starting with Aquaman: Rebirth #1 and continuing from there.
So there you have it. Reading up on each of these series (all collected in various trades) will give you a pretty good understanding of the character, as well as maybe fill in some of the gaps the movie might leave you with.