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Outrageous: The Aquaman Primer

I know this is a week late, sorry about that. Again, life gets in the way. I swear I’ll explain in a couple of weeks.

If you followed San Diego Comic Con, or just movie news, you’ve probably seen the Aquaman trailer by now, and you know it looks awesome. However, if you’re like most people, you probably aren’t all that familiar with Aquaman other than the “he talks to fish” jokes permeating pop culture that stopped being funny twenty years ago, and have no real clue what he’s about. What’s this movie besides an origin story? What makes Aquaman a character worth getting his own movie? And which comics should I read to get caught up? Well you’re in luck, because I happen to be one of the six Aquaman fans on the planet, and thus it is my responsibility to bring the rest of you up to speed. So let’s...

*Puts on sunglasses

Dive in.

*CSI Miami theme plays.

Aquaman, Arthur Curry, King of Atlantis, Protector of the Seven Seas. Despite all the fancy titles, Aquaman exists in a strange place; he’s not an obscure character, most folks at least know who he is, but he’s never been super popular despite being one of the oldest superheroes around. As such he’s existed in a type of comic book limbo. Whereas most of the big characters at DC have traditionally been published continuously since they’re debuts, Aquaman has been published on and off throughout the years, his longest series lasting for seventy-five issues. At the time of this writing, his current series (part of the DC Rebirth line) has just published its thirty-eighth issue. Certainly he has his diehard fans (all six of us), but he’s never reached the popularity of characters like Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman.

Created during the “Golden Age of Comic books,” by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger, Aquaman first appeared in More Fun Comics # 73, and like most superheroes of the era, he spent most of the time fighting Nazis. His origin has changed several times throughout the years, and going through all of them would be needlessly complicated. It looks like the movie is going with his Silver Age origin, which is both the simplest and the most commonly used when he appears in other media, or when DC reboots every five years. So that’s the one I’m going to cover here.

Tom Curry, a lighthouse keeper, finds a woman washed up on the shore and in bad shape. He nurses her back to health, and naturally they fall in love. The woman in question is Atlanna, the exiled Queen of Atlantis. Whether she’s banished, or left of her own accord, changes on the writer. I don’t know which version the movie is going with, although I’m guessing most of the elements the film will be using will come from the modern era, and Geoff Johns’ run in particular. But I digress. Atlanna and Tom have a son named Arthur, but their happiness is short lived. Eventually Atlanna has to return to Atlantis, leaving Tom and Arthur on the surface. Arthur is raised by his dad, and as he grows up, his powers start to appear, the most famous of which being his “ability to talk to fish.” It’s actually a type of marine telepathy that lets him influence sea life, but it has other uses people forget about. We’ll come back to that later. Being half-Atlantean, he’s adapted to survive at the bottom of the Ocean. Most folks don’t seem to realize how strong someone would have to be in order to not be crushed by the pressure. We aren’t talking about just physical strength, but the fact that their entire body isn’t crushed, including bones and internal organs. The required secondary powers alone are akin to winning the super power lottery, and Aquaman is stronger than the average Atlantean. Besides his strength and endurance, which make him bulletproof, he also has enhanced speed, agility, vision and hearing. The Atlanteans have evolved to see at the bottom of the Ocean, meaning pitch black environments. While not at Flash or Superman levels, Aquaman is extremely fast, and every single one of these abilities is amplified underwater. If you think that’s useless, then you don’t realize the possibilities of what he can do. If he was a real person, the BP oil spill would’ve been stopped in a day at most.

Finally we come back to the marine telepathy. For starters, it doesn’t only work on fish, that’s just what he uses the most. For example, there’s an issue of JLA where he gives a White Martian a seizure through the cerebellum part of the brain that evolved from sea life. In case anyone is counting, that’s everything. Everything evolved from the sea. He may need a bit more time for something that’s no longer aquatic, but the fact is that he can give someone who is equivalent to Martian Manhunter’s level of power a seizure. The main reason he doesn’t do that more often is that it’s considered incredibly unethical, but the fact is that he’s capable of it.

So what makes Aquaman interesting? Well there’s the general answer, and then there’s my a