The Big Question♯3

Yup, I'm gonna talk about Aquaman this week. And, if you are a proper comics fan you'll understand why.

Now, I'm not a huge Aquaman fan, but I think that old Arthur Curry has taken quite a kicking over the years from pretty much anyone and everyone for being useless, his main power being he can 'talk to fish' (we'll get to that later) and his costume choices, but I think this is quite unfair. Alright the costume isn't great, but at least he never thought it was a good idea to walk around with his underwear on the outside as others of his generation of heroes have been wont to do. Of course we all know he doesn't talk to fish, he telepathically nudges them in the right direction, but ok, it is a lame power, until he gets a great white to eat you and anyway, he has lot more powers than that, he's super-strong, with super-reflexes, endurance, senses and healing (just like, if to a lesser extent than, a certain super-popular yellow clad short-arse only without the bad temper and metal claws). And as for him being useless........

Lets just count back what this guy has gone through over his time at DC comics. His people tried to kill him, only to switch from wanting him dead to wanting him to be king and back again like a yo-yo, yet he still protects them (like Batman, Spider-Man etc.), he was the first major superhero to get married (a full two years before Barry Allen tied the knot, 14 (or 32 depending on continuity) years before Superman, 24 years before Spider-Man and an infinity before Batman), his brother has tried to kill him and his parents are both dead (beat that Bruce Wayne), he has one of the greatest super-villains in Black Manta, his son has been murdered by his aforementioned arch-enemy, yet he's never fully taken his revenge, always upholding his principles. He's lost his hand and carried on fighting (Green Arrow decided he'd rather die than lose his hand) and of course he's died, been resurrected as a zombie black lantern, killed his former sidekick and tried to rip out his wife's heart before seeing her die in front of him as soon as he is returned to life and helping to resurrect her. And that's not to mention that HE, not Superman or Batman, was a founding member of the Justice League.

Personally, I blame Super Friends.

So, this week's question is a two parter. I've had my say, but what do you think of Aquaman, rubbish or not? And if not, who should take his place as the worst mainstream superhero? (I mean a hero that someone on the street may have heard of, not 3D Man or any other obscure Marvel character from the later 70's)

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21 Responses to The Big Question♯3

  1. Arioch says:

    Good one. I didn’t knew he could regenerate.

    IIRC, he was pretty pretty badass in the JLA cartoon (or was it superman?), but he suffers from the fact that
    1) His image clings to him
    2) He’s always compared to the other JLers, who are all more easy to perceive as cool than him.

    A lamer hero? Is plastic man mainstream enough? Oh, no. Angel, from x-men. For ages, this guy’s only power was flight and money. I mean, compared to him, Aquaman rules!

  2. Calvary_Red says:

    Aquaman’s got some pretty cool powers really. I read a story once that said of him “Only Superman and Martian Manhunter could punch harder, and only the Flash could punch faster.” Sounds tough to me, and that’s before you get to his various other powers. The main thing is, he’s not useless on land, as many people think. i agree that his portrayal in the Super Friends is what damaged his reputation. But i think Justice League helped.

    i’ve also got to agree with Arioch about Angel. My first thought was Hawkman, but Nth metal gives him a few other powers that make him useful. Angel should stick to funding the X-Men.

  3. barbario says:

    poor aquaman. he is just allllmost cool. the jlu cartoon beefed him up. they were building off peter david’s run in the comics but improved i think.

  4. TOOL says:

    Whoa whoa whoa guys lets not hate on Angel of the Xmen too much. He is in my like top 70 maybe. He got better after he became the Archangel. I am going to stay in the realm of DC in this one though. I have always liked Aquaman. Hey at least he doesn’t parade around in a black bannanna hammock, okay that’s the only marvel character I will bring into this fight…you know who you are man. To start off my case I have for you exhibit A.

    If you have not played the new Injustice game either, I would highly recommend it, he is quite the Badass in that, can I say that here?

    I have seen comics where Aquaman has put some black and blue on old big blue too. In the water he is pretty bad, I have seen him hold his own on land too. I am not sure why he has gotten a certain stigma in the populous? His costume could be worse. I think he pulls it off well, if you disagree you should tell him so and see how that works out for you. I will post a link for reference for those who dont know too much about him.

    I kinda like the version of him where he looks older with a beard and has a water like hand and the trident.

    As far as a more lame character…Are we staying in the Justice league originals or are we including the unlimited editions. There are so many to pick from the latter. Red Tornado being one, a Vision he is not. I could extend the list to any of the following for a more lame character: Black Canary, The Atom, Elongated Man ( as if that isnt every mans power at times ), Zatanna, I mean there is a decent list of people who I think are not as cool as this guy. He has proven to be worth his weight if you know what I mean. I guess that about wraps up my rant.

  5. Myro says:

    I will admit, I did conteibute to the “Aquaman talks to fish, useless 20 feet from the shore” heckling common among a lot of people. However, as much as I do not care for the New 52 reboot in general, the Aquaman title has been really awesome, at least for the first year, as I.’ve fallen a little behind since then. And I like the quasi-meta way that these jokes about Aquaman have been handled (especially in the first issue) and turned on their head. Plus the guy has a trident that could shatter Superman’s Kryptonian skull if needed.
    Consider me a full convert to the Aquaman side.

  6. Yeah, so how many crushing fathoms under the ocean can you withstand? That’s what I thought. Not up on the current Aquaman, but I always considered him a heavy-hitter in a tragic goldfish costume.

  7. Herr D says:

    It’s not just bad press Aquaman gets, it’s also the general perception of ocean. Human beings DO tend to be terracentric, geocentric, egocentric, etc. Fact is, Aquaman, even if he
    WERE useless on land, would be a necessity to defend Earth. 60% of the Earth’s surface is salt water ocean? Everybody but he and Superman needs a special vehicle just to go deep? Sure, the cavalry and legwork people are always unsung heroes. MOST humans would wiilingly ignore the ocean, outer space, other galaxies, everything outside their next meal, their loved ones, favorite hobbies . . .
    Clearly the problem here is not inherent ‘cool factor,’ but human focus. Aquaman is simply a less-praised necessity.

  8. TOOL says:

    I was waiting for the fact of ammount of water on the earth to come up.

  9. Sean Murphy says:

    I recall an offhand comment from some decades ago. The master villain sicced some twenty goons on him and didn’t bother to watch the result. Turned a corner and came face-to-face with Aquaman.
    “How-? I saw those goons fall all over you!”
    “I’ve had buildings fall on me, cur. Those dogs couldn’t even make me breathe hard.”

    Another thing Aquaman suffered from unfairly, is the stupid weakness syndrome so common in the 70’s. Atlanteans could only survive for about an hour out of water without special equipment. The writers forgot that Aquaman was half-human and was able to stay out of water indefinitely. (This was years before there was a Marvel comics to have a similar character. Remember, Aquaman was originally a member of the Justice Society…) A superhero that can only stay out of water for an hour is lame, but the “real” Aquaman did not have that weakness.

  10. Arioch says:

    Whoa whoa whoa guys lets not hate on Angel of the Xmen too much.He is in my like top 70 maybe.He got better after he became the Archangel.

    Which is why I specifically said angel 😉

    I totally agree with you about Archangel, and was dumbfounded when they reverted him back to Angel “to please the fans”, especially as, later, they gave him back Archangel powers and more just because he was so useless otherwise.
    To me, that’s almost like 2 different characters here, since they are so very different in their power sets.

    Notice, though, how, in the x-men movie, which is more known to the public than the comics, he was just the same lame old angel.

  11. Skybandit says:

    Anybody who could maintain his own series for sixty straight years can’t be dismissed as useless. Sure, he wasn’t as useful on land as he was in the water, but that’s why he had his own series! I hate to think what would have happened to that poor egomaniac Namor had the two ever clashed undersea.

    Lamest hero? How about that two-bit Batman clone that debuted in the very same comic book ‘way back in 1941, Green Arrow? Never did learn not to bring a bow to a gunfight!

  12. JR19759 says:

    I have to say, I’m amazed that people are picking Angel as the new most useless. Ok, he’s never been all that great as his normal self but if you’re saying that his only powers are flight and money, Batman and Iron Man both only have half of that really, and at least Angel uses his money to finance a school and a team to protect his species.
    What I’m really surprised at is that Henry ‘Hank’ Pym or Scott Lang haven’t come up yet.

    BTW Skybandit, at least Green Arrow was the original rip off. I’d say its worse that Marvel did a rip off of that rip off three decades later.

  13. darkvatican says:

    Aquaman is cool. A handful of poorly-written cartoons from the 70s did a real number on his image, but he actually is pretty cool. Besides, who wouldn’t want someone who could command sea creatures when they are the ONLY character patrolling that place? People get caught up in all the wrong things, where Aquaman is concerned. As has been pointed out, Aquaman’s super strength/speed/endurance/healing factor/etc are all at a high level, if not top notch specifically. I think Aquaman is way cooler than someone like Guy Gardner, “the green lantern with an attitude”.

  14. William A. Peterson says:

    Yeah, the whole “One hour out of water” thing did a LOT to hurt Arthur’s reputation, and the current emphasis on him being a Monarch doesn’t help much, given American impressions of Royalty (either nitwit Brits, or Third-World Thugs, for the most part). He has powers, but he’s not really in the JLA weight class on dry land… so, he’s the guy who handles all the underwater menaces that we mostly don’t care about.
    He’s not a bad person (which means I respect him more than Batman), and he’s got powers, but he can’t really add much to the TEAM aspect of the JLA… He’s not much of a detective, he’s a VERY distant third in the Strength department, he’s a VERY distant third in the Speed department, he can’t fly or see through walls, and he’s not too terribly good against orbiting Alien Invasion fleets…
    They keep trying to come up with ways to make him ‘kewler’ (Sorry, but since when could he regenerate?), but that always smacks of desperation, to me…
    Thor can fit into Asgard, OR Midgard, but Arthur never really even tries to fit in with land dwellers outside the JLA, so it’s kind of hard to relate to him.
    I don’t hate Aquaman, but I don’t buy his comics, either…

  15. JR19759 says:

    William A. Peterson:
    and the current emphasis on him being a Monarch doesn’t help much, given American impressions of Royalty (either nitwit Brits, or Third-World Thugs, for the most part).

    It’s funny, because you lot go much more insane than we do over any tiny bit of news about our royal family. Whilst I know what and who you are referring to, if I were you I’d think more carefully about your phrasing before commenting on other nationalities, it just makes you look ignorant.

    (Sorry, but since when could he regenerate?)

    He’s been able to heal faster than a normal human for a while now, not sure how long. As I said, it’s not exactly regeneration like with Wolverine, but he heals up quicker than most of his JLA team-mates.

  16. Calvary_Red says:

    Angel uses his money to finance a school and a team to protect his species.

    Realistically, that’s probably the best possible use of money. When i said he should stick to funding the X-Men, i didn’t mean that was a useless role, long term it will probably do more than Iron Man or Batman using their big bucks to punch bad guys.

    All i’m really saying is flight alone isn’t enough for a crime fighter. Archangel did fix that, but as Angel, he’s far more useful as a team benefactor. Truthfully, Tony and Bruce are probably the same. What are you without the suit? “Genius, Billionaire, Playboy, Philanthropist.” Say what you will, Cap, these guys will benefit the world in thousands of ways no other hero ever could. But in comics, these charitable and innovative uses of their powers are treated as a side note to buying cool toys to beat people up (because it’s more fun).

    As far as them as crime fighters, Batman and Iron Man use their money for that too, buying/building an arsenal of weapons, tools, and vehicles to help them. Angel just hits people with his wings and hand to hand training (he makes work, but still). Is he useless? No, he’s really not. Does he have an impressive power set? i don’t think so.

    But that’s just how i read the question, if you want someone who deserves to be considered useless, i think you’re going to have to look at lesser known characters. Any relatively well known hero is going to be given some justification.

  17. McKnight57 says:

    Right now, Aquaman’s kind of a badass, thanks to Geoff Johns. The first issue sort of cemented it with him stabbing and then flipping an armored truck. Then there was the hail of bullets that barely grazed him and managed to just piss him off.

  18. Arioch says:

    McKnight, you’re making me want to read that aquaman comics…

  19. TOOL says:

    Okay let me try to catch up as quickly as possible if you can follow me here. Angel I heard can regenerate too, what about that? I did like him as Angel but is better as Archangel as I said. Just wish he didnt have to look so stupid. Green Arrow, I kinda liked him but he seemed kinda pompas and a bad version of robin hood. Still better than Hawkeye and that aweful purple suit. Thank you Hollywood for not adding that to The Avengers. Hank Pym, I never really cared for they guy because of his attitude and outlook on life but he does have kinda cool powers and is really smart so thats usefull. Scott Lang? Anyways, to finish up, Guy Gardener, in one word Douche. I like Kyle Rayner. Well I think that catches me up here

  20. NateThePrate says:

    Tool, man, I love all those characters in your first post.
    And GA, Skybandit? No. Just no.
    Hawkeye? He’s a lame-ass though.

    Funnily enough, I spent quite a bit of time last year convincing my friends that Aquaman does not suck. The guy is one of the few heroes who can rock a beard (the other, Green Arrow) not to mention all the aforementioned bad-assery.

    As for the second part, I put forward Namor, ladies and gentleman.

    I mean, just look at this toss pot! His trident looks like it’s been hastily cobbled together out of scrap iron for a costume party. Tiny green fish scale speedos? Suddenly Arthur’s full-body suit’s not looking so bad now is it?
    Top it all off with elf ears, tiny dove ankle-wings and a brow/expression like a constipated Vulcan makes B’wana Beast look tasteful.

    Well okay, they’re probably equally ridiculous, but at least BB is a likeable lunk, whereas Namor is an utter pratt…

  21. NateThePrate says:

    Right now, Aquaman’s kind of a badass, thanks to Geoff Johns. The first issue sort of cemented it with him stabbing and then flipping an armored truck. Then there was the hail of bullets that barely grazed him and managed to just piss him off.

    I love that issue. The restaurant scene? Hilarious!