Aquaman is now a household name. Want to learn more? Those who want to dive into the King of Atlantis’ best adventures after DC’s billion-dollar movie made a splash at the box office will find these stories very useful.
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However, Jason Momoa hasn’t always played Aquaman as a long-haired hunk with a beard. In fact, Aquaman has been a lot of different things over the years. He was a long-haired, one-harpoon-handed hunk, a kid who tricked a lighthouse keeper into being his father, and a guy who was just looking for his wife.
Here is a list of the best Aquaman stories of all time, just in case you’re hungry for more Atlantean Adonises.
1. The Atlantis Chronicles #1-7 (David/Maroto)
David weaves the narrative between the perspectives of different characters – presenting Atlantis was living, breathing part of the DCU similar to Themyscira or Krypton. Esteban Maroto brings a background in horror and fantasy illustration to the table that is a gorgeous fit for this story. This is Atlantean Sword & Sorcery and Maroto’s combines those elements extremely well.
And while Aquaman isn’t a major player, the story ends with his birth kicking off a new era for Atlantis.
2. The Legend of Aquaman (Giffen/Fleming/Swan/Shanower)
For a while, it looked like Aquaman was only known for his attempts to change his history and origins.
We’ll talk about Neal Pozner and Craig Hamilton’s first post-Crisis relaunch later on. Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming tried to bring the character back to how things were before the crisis, but they also added some new information about him, like his orange and green prison uniform.
With art by Curt Swan, you could do a lot worse.
3. Thicker Than Water – Aquaman #1-4 (Posner/Hamilton)
They did a great job on Aquaman’s first solo book in eight years before Giffen and his team.
That’s not all: They also gave Arthur some new clothes and a hairstyle that would have looked good on him in the 1980s. They also made Arthur’s oldest enemy and half-brother, the Ocean Master, a sorcerer.
For a while, things were going in a different direction. Fans were excited by the “camouflage suit” and Pozner’s attempts to do something new.
4. The Trench – Aquaman #1-4 (Johns/Reis)
When Geoff Johns saw how Flashpoint changed the DC Universe, he decided to take on a near-impossible task: making Aquaman cool.
A lot of people didn’t like the idea until the first issue of Johns’ run came out. The writer took Aquaman’s bad reputation head on, which made people laugh. Ivan Reis did the art for Aquaman in this era, and he brought back a sense of regality and quiet anger that had been absent from the character. Putting a light on Aquaman’s more silly parts might not be the best way to include them, but Johns let people see what Aquaman fans have always known: Aquaman is cool.
5. Aquaman: Time & Tide #1-4 (David/Jarvinen)
We haven’t finished telling the stories of how people came to be here yet. It’s called Time & Tide, and Peter David gets to build on the foundation he set up in The Atlantis Chronicles and look back at Aquaman’s early years.
To start, David tells a few stories about Aquaman. They show things like the fins on his calves and how he came to be called Aquaman. Kirk Jarvinen makes comic book art that isn’t like most comic book art from the 1990s. With its clean lines and expressive faces, it looks like Erik Larsen went to work for Disney animation. This is a great match for the book’s tone.
As Aquaman’s story ends, David starts a 48-issue run on the character’s own title.
6. Drowned Earth (Snyder/Tynion/Irving etc.)
In Drowned Earth, there is a sense of scale that dwarfs many of the stories on this list and puts Aquaman’s personal mythology on a level with that of some other heroes on the Justice League.
When Scott Snyder and James Tynion write about that mythos, they make an important point: This threat is much bigger than what Aquaman and the League have faced before. And we’d be remiss not to mention the art work of Francis Manapul and Frazer Irving. As the DCU has evolved, the work of Manapul has become the standard for the whole thing. Driving is really able to up the horror stakes on this book. There is already a lot of people who love Drowned Earth.
7. Aquaman: Out Of Darkness (2016)
Rebirth comics were released after the New 52 came to an end with the Convergence event. These comics tell the back stories of DC Universe characters. It’s Aquaman: Out of Darkness, not Aquaman: The Man of Steel, that changes the way Aquaman stories are told.
Out of Darkness isn’t just a big show of how awesome and perfect Atlantis looks. It also shows that there’s a lot more to Atlantis than meets the eye. With Mera seemingly his only friend, Out of Darkness has Aquaman and Mera talk about politics, mysterious entities, and world-shattering threats with each other. This makes Aquaman both a folk hero, an urban legend, and a superhero.
8. Aquaman: The Crown Comes Down (2018)
It can be hard to be a ruler sometimes because of the weight of the crown, and Aquaman: The Crown Comes Down shows this in a gripping story. At its heart, The Crown Comes Down is about Aquaman’s determination to save Mera’s life by destroying the Crown of Thorns, which was the mystical defense system that kept Atlantis safe from invaders.
If this sounds easy, it’s not. Aquaman wanted to overthrow Corum Rath, so he set his sights on the Crown in the first place. He realized that he couldn’t just attack Corum Rath with small attacks and expect to overthrow him. This made things even worse for Arthur: Rath had a lot of allies who were out to get him, and Aquaman doesn’t like Atlantean views on monarchy at all. This gripping fantasy epic adds a regal side to Aquaman that some comic book fans haven’t seen before in Aquaman stories.
9. JLA: The Obsidian Age (2002)
JLA: The Obsidian Age is a book about people who are important only when they are gone. This is what happened after both Atlantis and Arthur Curry disappeared. Aquaman’s sidekick Tempest tries to get the Justice League to go back in time to save his friend and the remnants of his home. When the Justice League decides to leave, other people step in to protect Earth from different threats.
This way of telling the story and the mystery behind Aquaman’s disappearance is a great way to show how important Aquaman is to the League’s overall roster. In the end, everything works out for Aquaman and Atlantis, but the efforts the League made to help them show Aquaman’s bigger role in the DC Universe.