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Aquaman: The World's Worst Superhero!?

posted by Eric on 8/14/02

I’ve had a strange obsession with the “King of the Sea” since I was a young lad. One of my earlier childhood memories is when I was about 5, my family planned a vacation to the beach. I was extremely excited because I thought I was going to get the opportunity to meet Aquaman. At 5 years old, I suppose I looked at everything in life like it was Walt Disney World... the theory that any place with associations to my favorite cartoon or comic characters would no doubt be filled with autograph sessions and picture opportunities. After talking about it for weeks in wide-eyed anticipation, my parents finally convinced me that Aquaman would be too busy saving the day somewhere to come and meet us at the beach but they told me that I could take my Aquaman action figure with me and pretend like he was there with us. I thought it was a great idea, because surely at the beach my Aquaman figure would come into their true powers and it really would be just like he was there with me. When we finally made the trip out to the beach I ran down to the shore with Aquaman in hand. My plan was to let him swim away to save some innocent people from insane sharks, along with many other adventurous heroics. I put him in the water, squeezed his arms a couple times to get his feet kicking, and away he floated... never to be seen again. I felt shocked and disappointed that Aquaman, the fucking King of the Sea, couldn’t even swim to the rescue when I went to all that trouble to get him to the ocean. That day, not only did I learn that it was alright to use the ocean as a toilet, but I also learned that one of my favorite superheroes was truly useless.

Then there were the times over the next few years where I would get together with all the kids in the neighborhood and play, pretty much every day after school when that was in, and all throughout the summer. At such a young age, your imagination is the most valuable thing you could possibly possess... and we used our imagination to it’s fullest potential by playing “Superfriends.” Typically, we’d play ‘rock, paper, scissors’ to see who got first pick as to who got to portray which hero... my problem with that was that I always thought that scissors was the way to go in any situation. I mean, what the fuck is paper going to do to anyone? And rocks? They were all over the ground, anyone could just pick one up and have nothing special to show for it. But scissors cut shit up and had to be kept in a drawer. There was a sense of danger there, and I knew it. My friends caught onto my loyalty to the scissors, as well as my slow wit while playing the game, and would always pick the rock to bludgeon the fuck out of my hand... usually resulting in my getting last pick. And who was always the last hero left? That’s right, Aquaman. After that scarring incident at the ocean a few years prior, my tastes had gone sour concerning the hero. Besides, something’s really wrong there when my friends would choose to be one of the Wonder Twins rather than taking on the Aquaman persona. I always got captured by the bad guys, and always played little part in saving the day. The one shining light from these play sessions was when we were portraying the Superfriends while going swimming. I could finally prove myself as a worthy hero, saving a drowning Robin or rescue Wonder Woman from an inflatable dolphin. Those few instances kept my respect in tact for Aquaman... well, the little respect that he deserved, anyway.

Even though many instances of disappointment and mixed emotion followed for years after that, to this day I still have an intense loyalty to him that I can‘t quite explain. A few months back, a few friends and I got drunk and decided it would be a good idea to pull out the video camera to document our exploits. While most of my friends were content sitting in one spot and quoting lines from Kevin Smith movies, I had an urge to make more of the night... so I vacated the party and went a few doors down to the local drug dealer’s apartment. That right there should be enough to influence those of you who don’t already drink never to start because drinking soon causes you to loose every bit of common sense that you normally cling to. At any rate, lucky for me that our local supplier was a hell of a nice guy and was willing to put up with my shenanigans for the evening. He had a couple friends over along with his live-in girlfriend, and I believe two ‘clients’ as well.

The first thing I did once I was in the dealer’s home is stumbled over and sat on his girlfriend’s lap, proceeding to slurringly ask “So, you sexy little kitten, you, what are you feelings on the King of the Sea? You know, Aquaman... the best fucking superhero of all time.” Lucky for me she was high on something and everyone else was stoned out of their minds, because that little situation could have easily turned ugly. After she told me something about Papa Smurf, I said “Fuck off, that damn smurf isn’t the King of the Sea... BEEEATCH!!1” I proceeded to continue interviewing all of these stoner addicts about Aquaman, to a mixed reaction. Most things in life you can ask people about with decent results... but it seems like either (a) they didn’t know who I was and didn’t want to ruin their high to figure it out, (b) they didn’t know who Aquaman was and could care less about the ramblings of a drunken neighbor, or (c) they just couldn’t find anything positive to say about Aquaman.

That got me thinking... why the hell doesn’t anyone have anything good to say about Aquaman? Is he really that bad? The only way to figure it out is to take a look at his so-called “super powers” and figure out where he really stands in the competitive world of heroes in today‘s society.

Come forth, loyal sea life, and witness as I make you all my bitches.

Super Power #1: Aquaman has the ability to communicate telepathically with almost all sea life. The telepathy also allows Aquaman to sense primal emotions of aquatic creatures as well as control them mentally to do his will.

Alright, so he's obviously not very useful on land if his biggest claim to fame is the fact that he can talk to fish. Unfortunately, there aren't really ever any real disasters in the oceans that need the attention of a superhero. For that, you’ve got to feel for the guy. Here he is, trying to make a decent living for himself and the only super-gimmick that was left was the King of the Sea. It’s like showing up a couple hours early for concert tickets only to pick the last number in the damn lottery, and getting the shittiest seats available. Even though he can't do pretty much anything of real use, at least he can talk to most sea life… God knows that has to come in useful when a fish needs a shoulder to cry on. Plus, if he has trouble picking up women he does have the ability to control dolphins and... well, you know.

Even though I have the power to control you aquatic creatures through telepathy and stop you from attacking me, I think I‘ll fight you guys to show off my super-strength...
because it makes so much more sense this way.

Super Power #2: Aquaman's super-dense body structure can withstand the pressures and temperatures of the deep sea, which grants him superhuman strength while under water.

Because everyone knows that when the world’s fate is at stake, all the major shit seems to go down at the bottom of the ocean. You’ve got to wonder, if Aquaman is at his most powerful when he’s that deep underwater he’s got to be one hell of a persuasive speaker. It’s a widely known fact that most criminals in the comics and cartoons weren’t usually the brightest guys around, but 9 out of 10 weren’t so moronic that they wouldn’t be able to see through Aquaman’s plan to lure them into the depths of the sea so he could beat the living hell out of them. Poor Aquaman gets the short end of the stick yet again, because obviously being limited to super strength at the ocean floor and having to beg your enemies to put on scuba gear so they can go down a few hundred feet to have their asses kicked isn’t the most encouraging thing in the world.

If you think that I can swim fast, you should see what I can do in the bedroom.

Super Power #3: Aquaman can also swim up to 100mph, above or below the water's surface. This gives him far more agility and much more speed than most sea life.

Other than being the most decorated high school swim team captain in history, I don’t see how this super power is really going to help Aquaman’s case. If he was willing to demote himself from ‘superhero’ to ‘lifeguard’ this perk may get him at least seven bucks an hour, but in the business of saving lives he’d be the laughing stock of all the other Super Friends. Still, as cool as it may be for someone to be able to swim at super speeds, most bad guys would steer clear of the water in the first place so the chances of this power working to his advantage, yet again, are minimal.

I sense that I suck.

Super Power #4: Aquaman has the power of sonar, which allows him to detect everything around him when he is blinded or unable to see because of the darkness of the deep sea.

This power actually may come in useful for Aquaman when he’s searching for sunken treasure... because that looks to be the only profession where he’d be able to use his abilities and not be an embarrassment to himself at this point. Well, either that or take up being a trainer at Sea World. At any rate, sure, he can use his sonar power to not bump into anything while at extreme depths of the sea... but from what I hear, most blind people have that type of sharpened ability anyway. The only difference is that with real blind people on land, it works because things are built and I imagine it’d be difficult to get around whereas underwater, no one’s building shit so this power, much like Aquaman’s others, are just sad and for the most part, completely useless.

Hold on, baby, let me put this thing on ‘vibrate’ and then we‘ll have a go at it with your octopussy. If this doesn‘t get you off, no worries... because I‘m hung like a seahorse.

Super Power #5: Aquaman's cybernetically controlled left hand is a hook with a retractable cable.

After years and years of dealing with the aforementioned super powers, I guess Aquaman just got sick of it and wanted at least one ability that he could use on land as well as in water... and apparently the best that he could come up with is a hook and a plastic hand that he can control cybernetically. Though I don’t think an accessory to your body is truly considered a “super power.” It’s like saying some one-legged homeless guy can put used chewing gum on a stick and affix it to his stump, then claim to have super powers. We’ll let this whole thing slide, though, because obviously poor Aquaman is struggling in feeling secure in his abilities.

Well, I guess taking a look at Aquaman’s super powers wasn’t the best way to get him some positive recognition. But as they say, it’s not the size of the ship, it’s the motion of the ocean. Maybe Aquaman takes those shitty super powers of his and uses them to the best of his ability, making him the best hero ever. Maybe... just maybe, Aquaman is the diamond in the rough when it comes to superheroes. Obviously his powers on their own won’t get him anywhere, but maybe he uses them in such a way that will give him some mad props from all the hommies. So let’s take a look at a couple hypothetical situations, and see how Aquaman could go about saving the day.

Let’s say that there is a corrupt business tycoon who is using his wealth and power to take over the world. More than likely, Aquaman would float onto the scene using a giant seahorse as transportation. He’d probably use his telepathy to order a school of fish attack the evil genius, forgetting that he has control over larger and more dangerous sea life, like sharks or killer whales, that could probably do a bit more harm than his mean street posse of trout. Then again, I doubt that an evil madman as the one in question would be trying to take over the world from the ocean‘s floor... so Aquaman would have to have take a healthy jog to the scene and wait until the right time so he could shoot his hook and tie the diabolical tycoon’s feet up with that retractable cable, and wait for the police to arrive. But Aquaman would have to do all of this within one hour’s time, as his biggest weakness is being a fish out of water and not being capable of, well, pretty much anything after a certain amount of time away from his liquid layer under the sea. On land, it looks like the only thing that Aquaman would be capable of is possibly stopping an 8-year old bully from stealing other kids’ lunch money... and that would be with a simple threat of feeding him to a shark or something.

Something smells fishy around here, and I don’t think it’s me this time.
But I‘m going to get to the bottom of this mess and save the
world, with the help of my giant fucking seahorse here.

Okay, so that was a bad example and unfair to our hero, so let’s try again in a different setting. Say that Aquaman’s just chilling in the ocean, practicing the backstroke... when all of the sudden a pissed off group of sharks surround him like he was a tourist in New York and they were about to take him for everything he’s worth. Instead of remembering that he has the power to control these sharks who threaten his life, he’ll wrestle with them for a while and take advantage of his underwater super-strength for a minute or so. At that point, he’d probably panic because he was outnumbered, and do one of two things... he’d remember that he could swim a lot faster than the sharks and get the hell out of there, making himself look like a wet pussy, or he’d remember that he does have the ability to control sea life at the drop of a hat. Rather than telling the group of sharks who the fucking mack-daddy of the seven seas was and telling them to back the hell up and that they‘d betta recognize, he’d probably opt to bring in a giant octopus who would use it’s tentacles to choke the life out of the creatures that Aquaman is sworn to protect. So it looks like even when he is capable of using his super powers in the rare underwater adventure, he doesn’t do it in a logical and completely affective way, thus dropping the ball on every possible court.

But, what he obviously lacks in the “super power” and “capable hero” departments, maybe he makes up for in other areas of his life. Let’s examine exactly who Aquaman is and get to know the man behind the fins.

Just so we get a brief feel for who he is at a glance, let’s go over an actual transcript from one of Aquaman’s many dating service hotlines:

Hi ladies, my name is Orin by sea, and Arthur Curry by land... but you probably best know me as ‘Aquaman’... King of the Sea, superhero, and generally nice guy. I’m a divorced, white half-fish, half-man looking to have fun with a classy gal who knows what she wants in life. I’m 6’1” with blonde hair and blue eyes, and I weigh 325 lbs. Fear not about my weight, because it’s all muscle. Unless you count my hook that attributes for an extra 35 lbs, and the fact that I’m usually hanging out underwater keeps me dripping wet, which tends to add on another 5 lbs. or so. I was born in Atlantis, raised by a lighthouse, and currently call the city of Poseidonis home. But if you’re looking for a good time and if you like to get wet, give me a call.

Now, the actual mythology of Aquaman goes a little something like this... Aquaman was born as Orin, Prince of Atlantis, to parents Queen Atlanna, who was a mermaid, and the wizard Atlan. Due to the fact that he had blonde hair that was considered by the people of Atlantis to be a curse, he was abandoned on a reef and left to die. He was found and raised by dolphins, then he was found and adopted by a lighthouse keeper by the name of Arthur Curry. Curry gave the boy his name, and raised him on the sea shore until his teenage years, at which point young Arthur met and fell in love with some mermaid that he ended up knocking up and leaving. Kids having kids... so sad.

Yeah, like your life is any better.

Somehow, at this point, he ended up becoming a prisoner of Atlantis, at which point he discovered who his true parents were and what his heritage was... which helped him to understand all of his super powers. At this point, he met the Flash, who introduced him to the life of being a hero. At first Aquaman wasn’t too fond of his new profession, but he learned to accept and enjoy it in time, and helped to found the Justice League of America. He was also able to claim his birthright during this time by becoming “King of Atlantis.” Shortly there-after, he met Aqualad, who ended up being his best friend and sidekick. He also met and married a queen from another dimension, Mera, and had another child. At least this one was actually legit. At any rate, during all of this is when Aquaman spent the bulk of his time with other heroes, also known as his ‘Superfriends.’ Things seemed to be going pretty well for him.

In time, though, things in Aquaman’s life turned to shit. He lost his son to his arch-rival Manta, and had a tiff with Aqualad that caused the two to part ways. Aquaman was so obsessed with revenge on Manta, he left Atlantis which was attacked and conquered in his absence. Then his wife left him. After all, he did lose their child, and left home all the time playing the part of the hero, not giving her any attention. What a jerk. Through all this, the people of Atlantis and the sea all lost faith in Aquaman as well, he lost his hand, and he became insane. Just as he reconciled with best friend Aqualad, though, and things started to look up for him, Aquaman’s mother was killed by a Japanese dolphin hunter seeking some sort of revenge for something that apparently pissed him off. I suppose right before he murdered our hero’s mother, he said “Sorry, Aquaman, but we Japanese aren’t big fans of your work.”

Hey dolphin... go buy me one of those shirts that says “Shit Happens” on it.

Again, Aquaman allowed himself to become grief-stricken, which caused depression and a relapse of his insanity. He was so over the edge at this point that he lost control of his powers and somehow endangered the planet. That didn’t last long, though, as he came to his senses and asked everyone for forgiveness. So everything was peaches and cream for a while, then some guy by the name of Triton ended up killing his father, and when Aquaman was seeking revenge, he was killed as well. Somehow he ended up coming back to life, though, at which point he got his son back and had a birthday party. I think after all that stuff happened, he just had enough and said “fuck this shit, yo,” and decided to join up with the Justice League of America full time and forget about all of the drama going down at the bottom of the ocean.

Okay... so Aquaman’s got some of the worst super powers ever, he’s truly lacking as far as being a capable superhero, and his personal life, from his creation, has been almost always uninteresting and in complete shambles. But he’s got friends, oh yes... he’s got Superfriends. Let’s see if Aquaman has what it takes to be a best friend forever to any of his hero homeboys.

Whatever you say, Aquaman... whatever you say.

Something that can never be taken away from Aquaman is the fact that he was instrumental in helping to form the Justice League of America, which is also known by some as the Superfriends. As a part of a crime-fighting team with the world’s greatest heroes, he was indeed among the elite... but unfortunately for Aquaman, he was constantly the hero in need of rescuing. You’d think with a group of superheroes like Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, The Flash, The Green Lantern, The Green Arrow, Hawkman, Firestorm, Martian Manhunter, Black Vulcan, Apache Chief, The Wonder Twins, and countless others who teamed with Aquaman, that there’d be no evil or crime in the world. But someone would always fuck up, causing the crime-fighters to take their eyes off the prize, and 9 out of 10 times, that fuck up was Aquaman. He’d either get captured and held hostage by whatever criminals were trying to take over the world at the moment, or he’d lose track of what he was doing in the first place and start playing poker with some fish to pass the time. And on the rare occasion that Aquaman was doing the right thing and would catch one of the bad guys, he’d do something idiotic like tie them up with 4 feet of seaweed and put a school of goldfish in charge of watching his enemies until help arrived.

You’d also think that with such a combination of heroes with such awesome powers that whatever they had to do to save the day would take mere minutes, if that. Let’s face it, these are some of the world’s most famous and powerful heroes we’re talking about here, all fighting together for one common cause. Someone needed to make things interesting, and usually, that ended up being Aquaman. One of the things that Aquaman actually does bring to the table in his group of friends is that he’s so useless and is so inept at being a hero, a simple task could fill an entire half-hour slot or carry on through 3 or 4 comic books. He caused drama all the time, and almost always did the exact opposite of what he should be doing. Maybe it was the stress from his personal life crossing over into his professional life, or maybe it was just an overall lack of heroics and abilities, but in his group of friends, Aquaman was the one without a date to the prom and the one who had no one to go out with on the weekends. No one really liked him in the first place, and when he caused the group to lose sight of whatever objectives were at hand because of his underwater shenanigans or all-too usual mishaps, they all built up a lot of resentment towards him. It’s a good thing that he can control sea life and talk to all aquatic creatures, because at least he can command them be his friends and carry on conversations with them... because when Aquaman died, before he came back to life, no one really seemed to mind that much. It was like the death of a second cousin’s great uncle or something. Yeah, it sucked for a day or so and you feel bad for the people who were close to him, but the next day, it was sex, drugs, and crime-fighting as usual. Then, of course, he just had to come back to life and ruin everyone’s good time again... but that’s Aquaman for you.

Wonder Woman, I‘d be a little pissed that you gave me crabs,
but I‘ve already got a whole ocean full of them!! LOL!!1

Now that we’ve got the real Superfriends out of the way, let’s take a look at what some of Whatever-Dude’s own ‘Superfriends’ have to say about the King of the Sea...

"See, I always thought Aquaman’s problem was that he didn’t utilize his time properly. Instead of sitting around the Hall of Justice, waiting for a situation to arise, where he could be of service… he should have been out there acting as an independent consultant for a lot of the vacation spots around the country. Think about it. With all of the shark attacks going on last year... he could’ve just flown in from place to place, stood there, sent out his mental thoughts of, “Hey sharks... knock it off,” collected his fee, and moved on. Then if something came up where the Superfriends needed his underwater expertise, they could’ve just called him on a cell phone or had an octopus page him and Superman could’ve dropped by to pick him up. It‘s all about good time management... and it‘s all about the Benjamins, what?"

“I don't know anything about Aquaman. His lineage in comics, however, would appear to be from The Sub-Mariner who was part of the WW2-era roster of Marvel Comics. The Sub-Mariner (b 1939) was, as far as I know, the first morally ambiguous superhero. He was constantly at war with the Human Torch and this led him into occasional collaboration with the Nazis. Either way, though, my favorite marine hero is Ocean Girl, for patriotic reasons.”

“I’ve heard of Aquaman, but I’ve never seen him. That’s probably because he lives in the ocean or something.”

“Perhaps the worst aspect of Aquaman's less-than-successful history are his limited career choices. I mean let's face it. The comic industry is not doing too hot these days. The only thing keeping Marvel above ground are its movie grosses. If the comics industry were to fail, what would Aquaman do to earn a buck. He's not exactly a Harvard grad. Oh sure, he's probably got a BSA (Bachelor of Sea Arts) from Atlantis University, but I don't think he could weasel his way into a position at Morgan and Gilbert on the strength of a soggy lambskin. As far as I can tell, his only choice would be to become a trainer at Sea World Just picture him there in the tank with Shamoo, thrilling the audiences with the new tricks he could perform, such as launching into the stands and crushing Cuban drug dealers hiding in the audience.”

“I've always wondered... if Aquaman is supposed to live in the sea and be friends with all the aquatic life, what does he eat? Surely, he can't eat fish, since that would be considered cannibalistic seeing as he‘s half-fish. Then again, he is half-human as well, and by being surrounded by tasty morsels of fish, it makes one wonder...does Aquaman have a "dark side" to him that we don‘t know about?”

Aquaman meets the Red Lobster.


So there you have it. I think it’s safe to say that Aquaman is quite possibly the world’s worst legitimate superhero, but also one of the most interesting. His super powers aren’t at all up to par, he doesn’t have even a portion of what it takes to be a capable hero, his personal life is in a constant shambles, his friends hate secretly despise him, and for the most part, his fans and supporters do nothing but criticize him. It kind of makes you wonder why, in the DC universe, Aquaman is so revered and held in such high standings. He’s been a stronghold in both the Superfriends and the Justice League of America, he’s had his own television shows, and plenty of comics dedicated to his life and many underwater adventures. Is it a fluke? He’s evolved from being a classic gay dork to a rugged bad-ass with a hook, all the while provoking a decent amount of interest from fans world-wide. Sure, he’s pretty much useless... Aquaman is hardly what I would call an interesting hero, nor is he really that skilled at, well, anything. But at the same time, he intrigues and fascinates the masses in much the same way that most of the useless icons of pop culture do. I hate Aquaman for being such an inept hero and such a failure as a person, but at the same, I respect and admire him for sucking so badly and actually being able to hold his head up high. But when all is said and done, it looks like no matter how hard we try to hold him down, Aquaman perseveres no matter the situation... and no matter how much I try to despise him, I can’t help cheer for who I consider to be the biggest underdog and most useless crime-fighter in superheroic history.

God only knows why or how, but Aquaman always wins.

-Eric Fields

This is the greatest and best Aquaman site in the world... a tribute.
And don‘t forget to check out Seanbaby‘s take on Aquaman for even more fishy fun.

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