Aquaman DC Comics
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Aquaman Origins Through the Years

I am AQUAMAN– the king of the seven seas. This is my birthright. This is my responsibility. And I will embrace it.

Aquaman is a superhero published by DC Comics and created by Paul Norris and Mortimer “Mort” Weisinger. Aquaman made his debut in November 1941 as one of the stories within “More Fun Comics #73” and since then he appeared in hundreds of titles within the comic book ages initially as a backup character and later on within his own solo adventures as well as one of the main characters within great DC superhero teams.

Golden Age Origin

More Fun Comics #73
More Fun Comics #73

Aquaman’s first origin story comes straight from his first appearance in “More Fun Comics #73” and is narrated from the character himself as a flashback.

“The story must start with my father, a famous undersea explorer—if I spoke his name, you would recognize it. My mother died when I was a baby, and he turned to his work of solving the ocean’s secrets. His greatest discovery was an ancient city, in the depths where no other diver had ever penetrated. My father believed it was the lost kingdom of Atlantis. He made himself a water-tight home in one of the palaces and lived there, studying the records and devices of the race’s marvelous wisdom. From the books and records, he learned ways of teaching me to live under the ocean, drawing oxygen from the water and using all the power of the sea to make me wonderfully strong and swift. By training and a hundred scientific secrets, I became what you see—a human being who lives and thrives under the water.”

Same with most of the golden age comics, most of Aquaman’s early story villains were Nazis and Axis villains.

Simple yet appealing to the masses Aquaman stayed popular for a long time due to his unique character and abilities making it to the Adventure Comics alongside Superboy and Green Arrow on February 28, 1946 with the first issue being Adventure Comics #103.

Silver Age Origin

After a decade, Aquaman became one of the few superheroes that made it through continues publications without the loss of the love or interest of his fans.

Even though Aquaman was loved and amazed people with his abilities which remained unique throughout the 50 ’s people felt that there is a gap in his initial origin and DC started filling the gaps by working on an entirely new story for Aquaman.

Adventure Comics #260
Adventure Comics #260

Adventure Comics #260 in May 1959 marked the second Origin for Aquaman. Writer Robert Bernstein and artist Ramona Fradon worked together on what made out to be one of the best origin stories ever told for Aquaman.

Similar to the first origin story, Aquaman narrates this one as well. In this story, we learn that the name of Aquaman is actually Arthur Curry, the son of Tom Curry, a lighthouse keeper that saved a woman named Atlanna that was caught in a raging hurricane while on a raft. Later we learn that Atlanna is water-breathing outcast from the lost city of Atlantis thus making Arthur Curry a human hybrid with extraordinary abilities such as water breathing, super strength, super speed, communicating with sea life and this time telepathically and long distance instead of just verbally and from upclose.

Also as all great superheroes, Aquaman had his own little weakness during the silver age. Similar to Superman’s Kryptonite weakness and Green Lantern, yellow color sensitivity, Aquaman needed to have contact with water at least once every hour in order to survive.

Silver age Aquaman comic brought in light several additions to his backstory and introduced us into several new characters one of which was his half-brother Orm. Orm Curry was the product of Tom Curry (Aquaman’s father) marriage with a normal human after Atlanna’s death.

Orm grew up to be a troubled young boy trying to live within the big shadow his superhuman brother was casting and he felt that he will never have the same love from his father that his brother was receiving. Orm disappeared for years after becoming amnesiac and he resurfaced later as one of Aquaman’s greatest foes, Ocean Master.

Along with Ocean Master, we also get to meet several other of Aquaman’s archnemesis such as the Black Manta, the Fisherman, the Scavenger and a terrorist organization called O.G.R.E.

The end of silver age saw Aquaman leading once more the Justice League of America against the invasion of Martians and with a much smaller force since most of the core members were indisposed.

Modern Age Origin

The Legend of Aquaman - Aquaman Special #1 1989
Aquaman Special #1

In 1989 with the Aquaman Special #1 writer Robert Loren Fleming and artist Keith Giffen, retold the origin of Aquaman once more but keeping a lot of the Silver Age origin intact. This time we learn that Aquaman was originally born in Atlantis.

Son of Atlanna and the wizard Atlan, Aquaman has abandoned as a child to Mercy Reef (a place which is above sea level during low tide exposing the child to air which is fatal for Atlanteans) due to his blond hair which was believed to be a curse.

Fortunately, Aquaman survived and grew up feral among the sea creatures, hunting for his food until the day he met Arthur Curry who took him in as his own child. Aquaman still wondered in the sea for most of the day but Arthur Curry taught him how to speak and function as a human. With time they grew closer together and a bond was created between them that resembles that of a father and son.

One day Aquaman returns to find his “father” missing and presumed dead from creatures that were looking for him. Orin decides to travel far north where he meets and falls in love with Kako, a Inupiat girl. Orin also gets to know the hatred of Orm the Ocean Master, later revealed to be his half-brother by Atlan and an Inupiat woman and unfortunately, he gets driven away before he gets to know that Kako is pregnant with his child.

In this origin story, Aquaman finds Atlantis by chance and gets caught and imprisoned for three years from the dictatorship regime that rules over Poseidonis. We also learn that his famous outfit is what prisoners are forced to wear in Atlantis and that he kept it because he liked the irony.

He escapes after he learns about his mother’s death three years later and travels the world (seas and continents included) joins the Justice League of America and has numerous adventures until he returns to become King of Atlantis.

Soon after Arthur marries a woman named Mera, a queen from another dimension water kingdom, and together they start a family and have a son. Unfortunately, their son dies at his 2nd birthday and is buried at the Mercy Reef where Aquaman was abandoned as a child.

The New 52 Origin

Aquaman Vol.1 The Trench
Aquaman Vol. 1: The Trench

Once again during The New 52, we get to see a variation of Aquaman’s origin story. With Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Joe Prado as the creative team behind it, the new 52 origin establishes Aquaman’s origins to be of that of a half-human son of Tom Curry and Atlanna.

In this story, Arthur Curry gives up the throne of Atlantis in order to fight full time with superheroes but finds it difficulties since the public sees him as a lesser superhero in front of the rest, with weaker powers.

It is also revealed to us that during the early years of Aquaman he also teamed up with a group called simple, “The Others” which consisted of seemingly unknown characters such as a jungle girl Ya’Wara a Russian known as Vostok-X, an ex-army veteran called Prisoner-of-War, The Operative, and an Iranian called Kahina the Seer.

DC Aquaman Rebirth Story

Aquaman Vol.1 The Drowning
Aquaman Vol. 1: The Drowning

During the company-wide rebranding known as DC Rebirth, Aquaman’s story focuses on his role as a King of Atlantis as well as a Diplomat with various external forces. In the stories, Aquaman also tries to establish good relationships with the surface and so he creates an embassy with Mera as the Atlantis Ambassador.

Final Thoughts

Aquaman is a character with a vast and very complex history. From the Golden age all the way to the DC Rebirth he seeks to protect his homeland as well as the surface and he is deeply conflicted and connected with both sides. He is both human and an Atlantean but this is not a disadvantage as it’s seen by both sides, it’s a gift as is the fact that he was abandon as a child and didn’t have to endure a life as an outcast or as a prisoner. He learned how to fight for what he want and he found the love of a family he never could have had in the prisons of Atlantis.

Aquaman is easily within our top favorite superheroes of all time and he was also voted as such from IGN and Wizard Magazine.

Aquaman Reading Guide & Collected Editions

TitleIssues Contained
Aquaman Archives #1Adventure Comics #260–280, 282; Showcase #30–31;
Showcase Presents: Aquaman, Vol. 1Aquaman #1–6; Adventure Comics #260–280, 282, 284; A Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #12; Showcase #30–33; Detective Comics #293–300; Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #55; World’s Finest Comics #125–129
Showcase Presents: Aquaman, Vol. 2 Aquaman #7–23; World’s Finest #130–133, 135, 137, 139; The Brave and the Bold #51
Showcase Presents: Aquaman, Vol. 3 Aquaman #24–39; The Brave and the Bold #73; Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #115

Aquaman: The Search for Mera
Aquaman #40–48
Aquaman: Death of a Prince Aquaman #57–63; Adventure Comics #435–437, 441–455
Aquaman: The Legend of AquamanAquaman Vol. 3, #1–5; Aquaman Special #1
Aquaman by Peter David Book One Aquaman Vol. 4, #0–8; Aquaman: Time and Tide #1–4
Aquaman by Peter David Book TwoAquaman Vol. 4, #9–20; Aquaman Annual #1
Aquaman: The Waterbearer Aquaman Vol. 6, #1–4; Aquaman Secret Files
Aquaman: Sub Diego Aquaman Vol. 6 #15–22
Aquaman: To Serve and Protect Aquaman Vol. 6 #23–31
Aquaman: Kingdom Lost Aquaman Vol. 6 #32–39
Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #40–45
Aquaman: Time and Tide Aquaman: Time and Tide #1–4
Aquaman: The Atlantis Chronicles Deluxe Edition The Atlantis Chronicles #1–7
Aquaman: TempestTempest #1–4; Teen Titans Spotlight #10, #18

The New 52 Aquaman Collected Editions

TitleIssues Contained
The TrenchAquaman Vol. 7 #1–6
The OthersAquaman Vol. 7 #7–13
Throne of AtlantisAquaman Vol. 7 #0, 14–16; Justice League Vol. 2 #15–17
Death of a KingAquaman Vol. 7 #17–19, 21–25
Sea of StormsAquaman Vol. 7 #26–31, Aquaman Annual #2, Swamp Thing Vol. 5 #32
Maelstrom Aquaman Vol. 7 #32–40, stories from Secret Origins Vol. 3 #2, 5
ExiledAquaman Vol. 7 #41–47
Out of Darkness
Aquaman Vol. 7 #48–52, Aquaman: Rebirth #1

DC Rebirth Aquaman Collected Editions

TitleIssues Contained
The DrowningAquaman: Rebirth #1, vol. 8 #1–6
Black Manta RisingAquaman vol. 8 #7–15
Crown of AtlantisAquaman vol. 8 #16–24
UnderworldAquaman vol. 8 #25–30
The Crown Comes DownAquaman vol. 8 #31–33, Annual #1
KingslayerAquaman vol. 8 #34–40, Annual #2

Written by Angelos Savvaidis

Digital Marketing enthusiast by day Comic Book Geek by night!

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