Yo! I thoroughly enjoyed my last post of favourite fifteen characters from across Marvel and DC comics. Today I’ll be following that up with my favourite Aquaman stories. One of the reasons he’s an underrated character is that his stories don’t get much traction, or they didn’t used to. The New 52 Aquaman series really stepped up the game with Geoff Johns carrying a significant fan crowd with his name but there have been a few gems before Geoff took over, and so, without further ado let us begin.
5. Brightest Day.
Brightest Day. Brightest Day was written by Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi, and primarily illustrated by Patrick Gleason and Ivan Reis.
Okay, so, this isn’t technically speaking an Aquaman arc, more-so a cross over event. But Aquaman’s story within the Brightest Day arc is so damn good. Brightest Day served as a second-chance for characters both in the context of the story after Blackest Night and with in the DC comic-verse, Aquaman was one of several characters that took centre stage in the universe for the story and then remained in good standing for their own series’. Brightest Day begins with Aquaman and Mera reconnecting after his resurrection but Arthur has yet to enter the water, cautious and fearful of his Black Lantern past. When Aquaman and Mera go to save a group of people from pirates, Aquaman uses his powers to summon dead creatures of the deep, who kill the pirates against his command. Also in the story we learn that Mera originally was sent to Atlantis to assassinate Arthur but but ended up falling in love with him after spending time with him to gain his trust.
Brightest Day is one of the single best stories in comics, Geoff Johns worked wonders with it and the prequel event, Blackest Night, it was both heart wrenching and powerful, and joyful. The art-work mirrors the beautiful story-telling, it’s both haunting and beautiful.
4. Death of a King.
New 52 Aquaman Vol 4: Death of a King. Death of a King is written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Ivan Reis.
Death of a King is set in the aftermath of Volume 3’s Throne of Atlantis. Aquaman is juggling repairing reputation with the surface while continuing his fight for the throne below. The majority of people from Atlantis follow him but not all respect him, he has to prove himself. As you delve into the story of this volume you discover the roles of other major characters in Atlantis and how their views of Aquaman and Mera, and if they were to rule together, are deeply entwined into Atlantian culture. Then, by the end you a greeted by a reveal that was both sad and horrifying. Especially for Arthur.
Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis ended their run of Aquaman here and it was a fantastic run together. The artwork for Aquaman since volume 1 of the New 52 was a brilliant and well needed change, and Geoff Johns set the tone and theme of writing in stone that would solidify Aquaman’s resolve for the future.
3. American Tidal.
Aquaman: American Tidal. American Tidal is written by Wil Pfeifer and illustrated by Patrick Gleason.
American Tidal also goes by the name of Sub Diego, which is a major feature of the story when San Diego falls victim to horrendous earthquake and tens of thousands die as huge parts of the city crumble into the sea. . Aquaman must investigate why while helping the survivors adjust to life underwater. The story does an excellent job of showing Aquaman’s amazing powers in a way relevant to the story as he uses his strength and speed to help rebuild San ‘Sub’ Diego. It was quite a dark toned story which was a large surprise, there were event a few scenes of quite graphic gore which I wasn’t expecting but I think it was actually refreshing to see the horrors of an event such as this. It raises some moral questions for the main characters about what they would be willing to do, in order to save those they could.
Wil Pfeifer has a very definite style of writing and when it was announced I was very unsure if it would fit Aquaman’s role but I was blown away by it. It was deep and meaningful, a real page turner. Patrick Gleason’s art was also a surprising turn for me but the destruction and horrors that unfold after the earthquake were a fitting story for Gleason to illustrate.
2. Black Manta Rising.
Rebirth Aquaman Vol 2: Black Manta Rising. Black Manta Rising is written by Dan Abnett and illustrated by Philippe Briones and Brad Walker.
Aquaman aka Arthur Curry is a man of two worlds; – half human and half Atlantian. He constantly is torn between the duty as king and the Atlantian people, and his role on the surface and as a member of the Justice League. The story of Aquaman over volumes 1 & 2 addresses Aquaman’s conflict within himself through the idea of, certainly in my mind, one of the coolest concepts for an Aquaman story: war. I’ve always wondered about how a full scale war would play out between Atlantis and the surface under Arthur’s rule and command and we finally got to see it. Black Manta ignites a war between Atlantis and the surface by aligning himself with a secret, terrorist organisation and attacking human kind in the name of Atlantis.
Dan Abnett really outdid himself in the story, I was constantly torn between Aquaman’s own conflicts as he went to deal with them, the techniques for installing tension and twists in the story were so impressive, I couldn’t stop turning the pages but I was also nervous to for I wasn’t sure I would like the outcome. It was gripping. The artwork, particularly the use of colour grades and design of Atlantis’ society fused to make a truly memorably story.
1. Throne of Atlantis.
New 52 Aquaman Vol 3: Throne of Atlantis. Throne of Atlantis is written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Ivan Reis.
Throne of Atlantis is one of defining Aquaman arcs. The story centres around the rivalry of Ocean Master and Aquaman as to who should rule and lead Atlantis. During the conflict of brothers, Ocean Master attacks the surface and the Justice League is called to aid the humans on the surface. Aquaman has to decide whether he will stand with the Justice League or his brother. There are similarities to Black Manta Rising above in the concepts of the story; conflict between the surface and Atlantis, Arthur’s two worlds but this one focuses more upon the throne itself and cementing Aquaman’s rule into the history books. The story is a show case of Aquaman’s complex characteristics as both a leader and a warrior. The story serves as a cross over with the New 52 Justice League too.
Geoff Johns has worked miracles with this character, he shaped this character from the joked-about, throw-away Justice League member to a truly incredibly character with an intense backstory and fully fleshed out powers that rank him high on the list of super powered beings. The story here was gripping. It was both action packed, and emotional with suspense and passion. The art, meanwhile, was truly breathtaking. Ivan Reis and Geoff Johns are an incredible team for the New 52 Aquaman run. They did justice to every one of the great DC characters as well as the undersea world itself.
So there we have it. My top five Aquaman stories, and I highly recommend them to anyone; hard-core Aquaman fans or not. Hope you enjoyed the read, my next post will be a respect thread to John Constantine aka the Hellblazer. Peace.