Fire & Water #220 – The Many Faces of Aquaman

With the long-awaited AQUAMAN movie now just a few weeks away, Shag and Rob celebrate their fandom for DC's King of the Seven Seas by taking a look back at all the different versions of the character seen in the last 75 years of comics, cartoons, TV, and now films!

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15 responses to “Fire & Water #220 – The Many Faces of Aquaman

  1. Great show guys, even if Shag tried to drag Rob into that hoary old Peter David debate again. He don’t like it, Shag, and he’s never going to. Sorry buddy, just let it go.

    I’ve often had the same thoughts about Batman. What do I like about this character? With Batman, I think it’s a bit easier, because the visual is usually the same on some level, even if the character himself can be VASTLY different. That silhouette remains the same. Aquaman is all over the map. Short hair. Long hair. Beard. No Beard. Two handed. Hook on a stump, etc.

    I have my tickets for the 15th as well. The Franklins are going to Atlantis. The movie looks like a balls-to-the-wall comic explosion of concepts I never thought I’d see, even if we did get SOME kind of Aquaman movie. So I’m very excited.


  2. I have my tickets for the 13th because I’m busy on the first day of UK release, boo.. I bet they’ve already had it in Oz…

    Top show. I don’t think Rob explaining why he doesn’t connect to damp tramp grumpy Aquaman would necessarily come across as negative, Rob is a smart cookie. I’d love to know what he doesn’t like about an approach that throws out all the fun and purity of a classic hero.

    The Jurgens/Epting Aquaman was a breath of fresh air, and I even liked the Erik Larsen run that preceded it – I never hear any praise for that one. My favourite runs, though, are those written by Michelinie, DeMatteis, McLaughlin, Pfeifer, Arcudi, Abnett… and all those Silver Age tales by the likes of Bernstein. So many great runs.

    So who’s MY Aquaman? Silver and Bronze Age, the noble king, the quiet family man with a temper when roused.

    1. I’m assuming it’s from the same 60s-era record that has songs of several other Justice Leagers that gets played from time to time on shows across this network, but I’ll leave the details to folks more knowledgable than I.

      Mostly, I’m jumping to comment that, when the song started to say “No one better than Aquaman,” I was desperately hoping for someone to insert the lines “Well, maybe Superman… Or Batman… Or Wonder Woman… Maybe the Flash… Green Lantern? Well, most any of them, really…” but I guess that would have detracted from the feel they were going for. 😉

  3. Really enjoyed the discussion, gentlemen, and the rundown of (most of) the incarnations of Aquaman.
    The first time I saw Aquaman was also in Superfriends in the early-to-mid-1970s, and I picked up some of the comics soon afterward – the very first was an issue of DC Super Stars (#7 I believe) with a wonderful cover by Jim Aparo and reprints of some stories drawn by Nick Cardy inside. I also had some of his solo series from the 1970s as well.
    And that brings me to ‘my’ version: hardly surprising, it’s the guy from the 1970s (whether in his solo series, or Adventure or World’s Finest), but especially when drawn by Aparo. Basically, I’m pretty much with Rob on this one. (Although I’ve read a few of the rather recent run of stories by Jeff Parker and would like to read more of those – they are absolutely fantastic).
    As for the movie, I’m looking forward to it and I’m hoping it’ll be another winner for DC like Wonder Woman and not like, well, damn near everything else they’ve done (I’m definitely a Marvel guy in that sense). Also, I’m glad you mentioned the Batman: Brave & the Bold version, which I really love as well. It also crossed my mind that this movie may be taking a little from that version as well.

  4. Personally, I liked Veitch’s run. It was brief, but I was into it.

    I think the problem is Aquaman keeps getting the same arc: Sea king; sea king dethroned; Mera’s gone/Mira dumped him; exile!; win back Atlantis; Sea king….

    But I do love the character.

  5. My version is… well depends. I met him on Super-Friends, think of him as a member of the 70s-80s JLA when I think of him, bought every series through the 80s. Loved the Peter David version, love the Brave and the Bold version… there’s no one version, and the ones I skipped over is because I never read or saw them.

    See… I’m a Doctor Who fan.

    Not so off-topic, my friends. Lean in and listen…

    When I say I’m a Doctor Who fan, I don’t mean I’m a Tom Baker fan, or a NuWho fan, or a Classic Who fan, or a fan of televised Who, or whatever small part of Whodom I’d want to carve out for myself. No. I’m a fan of everything. Classic and New, every incarnation, the stuff that’s not strictly in canon, the books and audios and comics and Peter Cushing movies, the good with the bad, the black and white with the color. I’m a fan of the behind the scenes and the in front of the camera. I don’t discriminate.

    Rob wonders if he’s just following the name/brand around because he has a hard time accepting this version or that. Here’s how my own particular fandom of an evolving/mutating/regenerating character works, and it’s not that I am simply uncritical (proof of my criticism is readily available on the Internet). Rather, I’m a fan of the rich HISTORY of Doctor Who. What interests me isn’t just the premise, or some handful of character traits, or some warm nostalgia for my favorite episodes. But rather HOW it came about, HOW it changed, how it screwed up, came back, triumphed, just how resilient it is that it can weather so many interpretations.

    It’s not unlike your fandom for Bob Dylan, Rob, and I think your interest in Aquaman remains strong because of this too, even if you are critical of certain interpretations. Don’t lose sight of that.

    1. But… what if you went from T. Baker to Sean william Scott? Still a fan then? Fan up to that point? It’s a hard road Rob’s chosen.

  6. Thanks for the enjoyable episode. While my Aquaman fandom is not as thorough as Rob’s, he’s been my favorite character as long as I can remember. My introduction was a combination of comics and Super Friends, with the Filmation cartoon somehow mixed in.

    My love of the water is what helped me get attached to Aquaman. Whenever possible I was always in a pool, lake, or a bath. The water was where I could be something different, almost super human (except for the pesky needing to breath problem).

    This drew me to Aquaman early on. I tend to like water based characters. They’re usually more in the background, as secondary characters, the underdog, and I also tend to like those characters.

    While “my” Aquaman is the one from my childhood, I appreciated every version. I suppose I’m a fan of the concept, it doesn’t have to be specifically Arthur in the orange shirt married to Mera. It does help when it is this version, but these characters always evolve and change and the older you get you see the patterns of those changes. And, though it sounds condescending, these are fictional characters and my comics I enjoy the most are still there to read.

    With Jason Momoa, at first I was a little skeptical (mostly because he wasn’t blond) but what they’ve shown is that other than him being half Samoan, he’s essentially the same character. My take on how I see different versions of characters was realized when Batman came out in 1989. This was not the Batman in the comics at the time. It was then that I realized that as long as they get the basics right, it’s just an adaptation of the character. Once I found that I can enjoy different interpretations equally, that helped me stop focusing on what they did wrong in the interpretation and enjoy it for what it is. I didn’t appreciate the Adam West Batman as I got older, but after the Batman 89 epiphany I had, I found a new appreciation for it.

    I am fully looking forward to the movie, with a little skepticism on how popular it may be. There is too much ridiculous “Aquaman is lame” sentiment for me to trust it will be a huge success, but that doesn’t matter to me if I like the movie. And I think I will, because it’s a freaking Aquaman movie 🙂

  7. As if I wasn’t already excited to see the movie, this episode jazzed me up even more. Really fun look at Aquaman’s rich history and interpretations. I’m likewise the rare one who doesn’t have a favorite. I enjoy the different takes. It keeps the character fresh for new audiences, and sparks the next generation of fan and creators.

    I don’t have my tickets yet, but I’ll be seeing the movie ASAP!

  8. To my mind, there has yet to be a definitive Aquaman run, because I like pieces of different interpretations, but nobody has ever brought them all together. I was introduced to him through animation, the ’60s show and Super Friends, so my default preference will always be the aquatic cowboy riding giant seahorses and firing water balls at evil doers. I prefer the Golden Age origin because Aquaman makes more sense to me as a hero of our culture defending the surface world from oceanic threats, not some alien royalty from a fantasy like Namor. I really prefer a smiling adventurous Aquaman like the one in Brave & the Bold over an angry Sub-Mariner or a brooding divorcee. I prefer him clean cut in the classic Silver Age costume, though I’d argue Ivan Reis crafted the perfect visual for the hero. Favorite runs include Skeates/Aparo, McLaughlin, Arcudi, Williams and I really didn’t become a fan until The Legend of Aquaman. Looking forward to seeing the movie, but didn’t feel the need to give any more money to Jeff Bezos to cut in line.

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