Aquaman (AKA Arthur Curry AKA Orin) is a DC Comics Superhero with water-based powers. He's probably best known for his Superfriends appearances, the lame nature of that version's powers and the fact that he is in practically every episode, whether this makes sense or not ("What's that? Trouble in the desert? Come on team, we haven't a moment to lose! And let's bring Aquaman with us; his ability to breathe underwater and talk to fish are sure to be useful there!"). In essence, having him take part in anything whatsoever was sort of the super-powered equivalent to Pity Sex.
Aquaman's powers have varied over the years; in all incarnations, he is mainly known for his ability to breathe underwater, swim at high speeds and communicate with sea life. He also often has something to do with The DCU's version of Atlantis.
Aquaman originated in The Golden Age of Comic Books. He first appeared in More Fun Comics #73 (November, 1941). He was created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger. In his earliest appearances, Aquaman was also strong and durable enough to deflect an artillery shell one-handed and outswim a torpedo. His powers were at first said to be the result of special training, but were later described as the result of his scientist father experimenting on him. Rather than communicating with sea creatures telepathically, he could speak with them "in their own language".
He wasn't the first aquatic superhero (Namor the Sub-Mariner first appeared 2 years earlier), but he eventually came to be the most well-known.
Aquaman continued in More Fun Comics until issue #107 (January, 1946). He was then transferred to Adventure Comics, starting with its 103rd issue (April, 1946). During The Interregnum, Aquaman was one of the few Super Heroes who remained in publication, largely due to his status as the backup feature in Superboy's title.
In the Silver Age, Aquaman's origins were revamped; now, he was a Half-Human Hybrid of Atlantean and surface human, raised by his father, a lighthouse-keeper, and unaware of his royal heritage until recently. He was super-strong and tough because his body was "adapted to the sea's depths", and he could telepathically control anything that lived on or near the sea. However, he was also given a Kryptonite Factor of sorts; he could only spend one hour out of the water before succumbing to potentially fatal weakness. Aquaman's career was, like Superman's, also retroactively extended back into his childhood as "Aquaboy," Superboy's sole contemporary hero.
This version of Aquaman turned out to be more popular than the original. He continued appearing in Adventure Comics until issue #284 (April, 1961). He became one of the founding members of the Justice League of America in 1960, and was a regular there. In 1961, Aquaman's strip got transferred to Detective Comics, he starred in a few Showcase issues, and he got several crossovers with Superman. All in preparation of his first solo title, Aquaman vol. 1 #1-63 (February, 1962-March, 1971, revived August, 1977-August, 1978).
In the process Aquaman picked up a supporting cast, something which he previously lacked. Most notable among them were Sidekick Aqualad, and super-powered wife Mera. They even had a kid. The Bronze Age led to his comic being canceled, Uncancelled, and re-canceled repeatedly. His child was murdered in an effort to drum up interest and provide angst, and he became the leader of the Dork Age version of the Justice League (often referred to as "Justice League Detroit").
After Crisis on Infinite Earths rolled around, Aquaman, like many DCU denizens, got a new origin. Now, he was the son of an immortal Atlantean wizard, abandoned to die for his blond hair and raised by dolphins before being found by the lighthouse-keeper. After this, Peter David became his main writer, and revamped him; his hand was eaten by piranhas and replaced with a hook, he grew out his beard, and moved toward epic, Barbarian Hero-style adventures. This led to a successful ongoing series for a time, but it slipped in popularity after David was removed, and was eventually canceled.
This led to yet another revamp. Atlantis was sent back in time thousands of years, its citizens enslaved by their own ancestors, and Aquaman himself was imprisoned as living water. The JLA freed them in "The Obsidian Age" storyline, but Aquaman himself was cast out as a traitor. This led to him finding King Arthur's Lady of the Lake, gaining a magical hand of living water, and going back to his original appearance. This series also involved an underwater San Diego ("Sub Diego"), whose inhabitants had become water-breathers.
This direction, while not wholly unpopular, didn't result in a high-selling series. Thus, during Infinite Crisis, Atlantis was destroyed. After the "One Year Later" Time Skip, Aquaman became Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis, going back to the Barbarian Hero adventures that had done well before. A new Aquaman was introduced, Arthur Joseph Curry, whose origin and powers were similar to the Golden Age Aquaman. He was guided by the "Dweller in the Depths", a tentacled humanoid who was implied to be Aquaman — most prominently, through having the magical water hand.
The Dweller died at the end of the series, after being revealed as, yes, the original Aquaman, who had made a deal with the sea gods to bring Sub Diego back onto land, after the magic that allowed them to breathe underwater was revoked.
In the Blackest Night Crisis Crossover, Orin came back as a zombified Black Lantern, determined to show people why you don't mess with the king of the seas. He got off to a hell of a start by ripping out a guy's heart and summoning a bunch of zombie sharks to kill people. At the end of the series, he was brought back to life with his classic appearance and no water hand due to his Black Lantern form repairing him. He then went on to play a significant part in Brightest Day, discovering a new Aqualad along the way.
To make things more confusing, it appears that Orin came back with a version of his Silver Age origin - Arthur Curry once again, the Half-Human Hybrid of the lighthouse keeper and Atlantean. While he was cast out due to his blond hair, he eventually earned his people's trust and became King of Atlantis. Artie Joe is also now considered to be a multiversal equivalent of Aquaman who left Atlantis at the end of Final Crisis.
His appearances in other media have been a mixed bag. The devastating legacy of Superfriends is discussed above, and probably the reason why the DCAU version of the Justice League did not include him as a regular. This turned out to be rather ironic - many think that series' portrayal of King Arthur as the regal Lord of Atlantis (not in exile, but actually ruling the place), who cut off his own hand in order to save his baby son, stormed the United Nations single-handedly to demand answers, and frequently antagonized the League until the (usually good) reasons for his actions came to light was one of the best, and deserved more attention. He also had a pretty cool animated cartoon in the 60s where he threw hard-water balls. He also appears in Batman the Brave And The Bold where he was a Boisterous Bruiser (and slightly egotistical), could throw hard-water balls (including ones that looked like aqua-Hadokens), and turned water into swords. A version of the character has also appeared in Smallville a couple times. This Arthur Curry has some kind of water-controlling power allowing him to create balls of water that explode on impact, has some degree of superhuman strength and swims faster than Clark, but dehydrates easily. He wears orange and green like the comic book version, but only because that's his college's school colors.
Aquaman now has a developing Character sheet.
- Advanced Ancient Acropolis: Atlantis.
- Already Met Everyone: Superboy, anyway, in the Silver Age as "Aquaboy," Earth-One's sole other superpowered superhero during Superboy's time-era. Yes, the Silver Age Aquaman was an active hero longer than nearly everyone else, even Batman.
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: Villains Black Manta and King Shark are examples of this trope, as is Dolphin, an occasional supporting character. Oddly enough, Aquaman himself does not fit despite his Animal Motifs.
- Apparently Human Merfolk: All of the Atlanteans, with the exception of small minorities of Fish People and actual Merfolk.
- Artificial Limbs: During his fight against Noble, his Hook Hand was destroyed and he used a mechanical hand for the remainder of the battle.
- Atlantis Is Boring: The series has been struggling against this since Aquaman's debut.
- Averted in Sword of Atlantis, as most of the series took place outside Atlantis, despite the title. In this series, Aquaman travels the undersea world having adventures that feel like they're out of a fantasy novel, and Atlantis is mostly ignored.
- The relaunch in September is set to begin with Aquaman in exile.
- Author Appeal: Peter David loves writing for Aquaman, and the joy practically spills off the page when he penned Aquaman and Namor's battle in DC Vs. Marvel.
- Badass Abnormal: Villainous example with Black Manta, who originally depended on his equipment to fight Aquaman, but Neron transformed him into a manta-man in Underworld Unleashed. This would be undone some time later.
- Badass Beard: Aquaman has one in nearly every incarnation in which he's an elderly King of Atlantis. Not only does he had a white beard to rival Poseidon's, but it makes him sufficiently Darker and Edgier to make the reader know that no one fucks with him. Ever. Even Superman in Kingdom Come treats him with kid gloves.
- Belief Makes You Stupid: Practically a founding basis of sea dwelling culture. All the horrendous superstition which often causes the people of Atlantis to turn on each other and declare war on the surface world on a daily basis is born out of lopsided myths and xenophobic slander.
- Black Shirt: Many of Atlantis's elite warriors tend to veer into this on account of most of their staff being hateful, xenophobic assholes who despise airbreather culture and the surface born kingly hero who descends from it. More often than not whenever there's a sudden regime change that threatens the whole world, many such naval teams such as The Drift. The elite forces of the Atlantean Royal Fleet in the New 52/Rebirth, often side with the latest harebrained scheme of the current idiot said moronic populace of the Hidden Elf Village elected to lead them and their world straight off a cliff.
- Blonds Are Evil: Atlanteans believe blond hair to be a curse.
- This is played straight with Kordax (Atlanteans refer to blond hair as the "Curse of Kordax") and subverted with Atlan (Aquaman's father, Post-Crisis).
- Going further back in time, Shalako and Orin I, first princes of Tritons and Atlantis. Orin I was dark-haired, Shalako was a blonde. Orin I was a good scientist, Shalako an evil wizard. On the next generation, Dardanus, Shalako's son, was blonde and every bit as twisted as his father, Cora, Orin's daughter, was a brunette and as good natured as her parents. Furthermore, Shalako and Dardanus did everything they could to make Orin and Cora's lives miserable.
- Son'a, the kind-natured mermaid queen of Tritons during McLaughlin's run was forced to wear elaborate headdresses to hide her blonde hair, fearing to fall in this trope. During Atlantis' history many princes and princesses were rumored to shave their heads, dye their hair or wear headdresses for that purpose.
- Again played straight and around the time Atlantis was a sunken city, Gamemnae; an evil sorceress who was exiled at birth due to paranoid superstition. Eventually she really did become such and such upon her return, growing up into a Sorcerous Overlord pretending to be a helpful liberator looking to conquer the world in Joe Kelly's run in JLA.
- Boomerang Bigot: The whole Surfacer/Atlantean conflict can be seen as one massive go around of this. As the Atlantean species were formerly human themselves before magic and their own misbegotten ways turned them all into waterbreathers. Extra points go towards Urcell who comments about Atlanteans who undergo sea change stop being Atlantean and become undesirables simply because they adapt marine life attributes. Particularly when Korum Rath's dabbling in forbidden magic turns him into an actual, factual powerhungry monster that she calls him out on not being human anymore.
- Burn the Witch: A mindset that many Atlanteans grew into after the Day of Vengeance event. While adjusting to the transfer from their ruined home to Sub Diego, the battered people often turned their ire for the destruction of their home on the powerless mages who lost their magic in the aftermath.
- Cain and Abel: Aquaman's enemy Orm, the Ocean Master.
- A recurring theme in the story of Atlantis, according to the Atlantis Chronicles.
- Canon Welding: Before DC started emphasizing Shared Universe elements, both Superman and Wonder Woman introduced their own contradictory versions of Atlantis; later writers on all three titles had to tie it all together. See Our Mermaids Are Different below.
- City of Adventure: Atlantis.
- Later Aquaman's city is changed to Sub Diego, which is just what the name implies: it's San Diego, but underwater.
- Colony Drop: Atlantis was originally sunk by a massive asteroid. Shalako and his followers believed it to be this, sent by the Goddess of the Sky to punish the Atlantians for forsaking her. But most assume it was just a natural event. It turns out it was neither; it was a literal Colony Drop by the alien Annunake, who later attempted to destroy another city the same way, fortunately the second attempt was stopped.
- Culture Justifies Anything: The basis of the ideology pertaining to every usurper of the week. The new king elected by Atlantis's unenlightened masses uses it as an excuse to oppress their subjects, falsely accuse and persecute the minority among them and make plans to wage war on the surface world almost right off the bat. Believing they were there first and everyone else is otherwise second class citizenry, ultimately leading to a world war springing up from genocidal ethnic cleansing which drowns the whole world.
- The Combat Pragmatist: "That's your weakness, Namor. You're too noble to cheat."
- Daddy Issues: Mera's current rendition is the poster girl for the trope, being raised since birth solely for enacting his father's revenge on Atlantis, then rejected upon falling in love with the then-current king.
- Some renditions of Ocean Master tinge Cain and Abel with this trope, having Ocean Master direct some anger to Atlan.
- Also, in the same renditions (where Aquaman is the full-Atlantean son of the Atlantean sorceror Atlan and the Atlantean princess Atlanna) being absent from the entire Orin's life strained the relationship between son and father.
- For the same reason Koryak, the unknown illegittimate son of Aquaman and taken back with his father only as a young adult, was always mistrustful and angry towards his absentee father.
- Darker and Edgier: Arguably, the Peter David series.
- Deadpan Snarker. Out of necessity during his Peter David run, or he'd go nuts with grief.
- Democracy Is Bad: Atlantis and its adjacent hidden kingdoms have a horrendous track record in regards to its own politics and leadership choices. A running staple in Aquaman Comics is that whenever Arthur is deposed and left for dead by his doofus people is that he ends up having to save them from themselves and their cackhanded attempts at choosing a new monarch.
- Depending on the Writer: Whether he outright controls fish, or if they just do as he says because he's the king of the ocean. For example, Geoff Johns explicitly states the former in the first issue of latest series.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Constantly. Aquaman throws down with Gods and Lovecraftian Horrors on the reg. Starting in his teenage years, when he messed up Triton's attempts to, um, "claim" Wonder Woman, through Peter David's run where he threw down with Poseidon, Hades, Tiamat and others, all the way up to the more modern stories where he's "only" picking fights with Lovecraftian Horrors at the bottom of the Ocean, or the living embodiment of God's wrath.
- He gets a really great moment like this in "JLA: Midsummer's Nightmare". Arbitrarily powerful badguy Knowman has just punched Superman into orbit. He makes a crack along the lines of "You people have no idea the kind of pressure I've been under. Allow me to demonstrate," and increases gravity enough to knock the entire team, including Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman, to the floor, where they stay as he strides around monologuing. Until he makes the mistake of walking by Aquaman, who mutters "Pressure? Obviously you've never been to the bottom of the sea!" before ganking him with his hook hand and yanking him to the floor.
- Dirty Coward: Sums up the people of Atlantis to a tee. Often screwing up royally due to listening to some bad advice only to assign blame in order to cover their asses. Such as the Sink Atlantis bit where a particularly trashy individual who abetted the last jerkass king's antics before turning on him. Aided the suicide squad's attempt at sending the city back into the ocean, she and the chickenshit citizens who fled to an area of the city generally looked down upon by the xenophobic people. Turned it into a final haven in order to shy away from the surface world, all because their too afraid to embrace change.
- Doing In the Scientist: In his first appearance, his powers manifested through scientific means.
- Eldritch Abomination: One Brave and the Bold story reveals that there is an ancient Lovecraftian demon which emerges at the bottom of the sea to destroy the Earth once a year. Aquaman and The Demon have a standing pact to team up each year to drive it back to its own dimension. Yes, Aquaman not only punches out Cthulhu, he beats the ever loving shit out of him on an annual basis. And yet people still think he's lame...
- Enemy Without / The Heartless: This is the role which "The Thirst" plays to the Waterbarer. If a barer uses their power to harm rather then heal then he will revive to drink life itself. His strength is based on the barer's negative emotions and if they should wield their power against him as well, then the two will merge, leading to a particularly unusual Battle in the Center of the Mind. Giving in is the only way to truly defeat him.
- Enigmatic Empowering Entity: In the early 2000s Aquaman underwent yet another retooling, which involved him being named 'The Waterbearer' by The Lady of the Lake herself. Rather than a magic sword, he was given a magic hand made of water. It was Better Than It Sounds.
- Everything's Deader with Zombies: Aquaman was one of the most prominent Black Lanterns. In Brightest Day, it turned out that he still had some of the Black Lantern taint - he summoned undead sealife just like when he was a zombie.
- Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: One of Aquaman's enemies is King Shark, who's basically a humanoid shark.
- Even earlier, an extended storyline used Green Lantern villain the Shark -- a hyper-evolved tiger shark -- as a nemesis.
- Fan Nickname: "The Savage Sword of Aquaman", for the Conan the Barbarian-influenced Peter David era.
- Also, new sidekick Jackson Hyde has preemptively been dubbed 'Blaqualad'.
- There's also people who spell his Batman the Brave And The Bold version's name in all caps, as AQUAMAN.
- Fantastic Racism: Surprisingly, many people within Atlantis hold great contempt for people of their own societal standing, not just of surface dwellers.
- in Pre/Post Crisis, it was the reason that Arthur was left abandoned on Mercy Reef after he was born. It was as much a matter of his hybrid nature, being both human and atlantean; as it was superstitious belief due to his being born with blonde hair. This negative trait is also shared between the neighboring cities of Poseidonis and Tritonis, wherein the latter of the two is ruled and manned by actual menfolk with fish-like tails or other sea life traits.
- In a similar vein, both Post Crisis/Flashpoint, Atlanteans with purple eyes were hunted and persecuted by their fellow atlanteans out of the superstitious fear that those with eyes like they'res would doom Atlantis to ruin. One such Atlantean was taken in as the Sidekick of King Orin at an early age, whom would one day grow up to be a great hero and king of Atlantis in his own right. While a couple of these Purple eye were found and sheltered by the Atlantean defector Atlanna, and taken to the extra-dimensional island of Pacifica where they'ed built they're own society AWAY from the constraining idiot laws of Atlantis.
- Though it is negligible in New 52 publications of Aquaman comics, the feelings of bigoted speciesism shows up more in Rebirth publishing by the time of story arcs such as Crown of Thorns and Throne of Atlantis. Where deep social inequality both within Atlantis and its relation to the rest of the world takes center stage, much of the new king's regime revolved around abusing and discriminating against people who adapted fish, amphibian or other such marine life qualities due to their living beneath the ocean for so long -- many of whom were being rounded up and threatened with a death sentence simply for being more fish than man. Which in itself is contradictory since Atlanteans hate all things related to Mankind.
- Fantastic Slurs: Atlantean culture is rife with nasty little expressions of their prejudiced outlook. Particular to surface dwellers, they use terms such as dirt walker, lungman, dry-mouth, land crawler, air-breather and the like. But they've got quite a few vicious expressions aimed towards their own people simply for their fish-like appearances, like sea-changed, taint blood, the unclean along with a host of other mean spirited expressions for those who are of them yet not of pure Atlantean stock. Arthur for instance is hit with this by his jerkass subjects and the surface people he saves regularly, they bombard the poor guy with all manner of terms like yellow hair, false king, fishperson, tunaman, finhead or half-breed worm, the list goes on forever.
- Fish Out of Water: Possibly the most literal example in history. Played for laughs in JLA: Year One.
- Funny Animal: "Aquaduck," a Funny Animal duck counterpart who lives on the parallel world of "Earth-C-Minus" (a Funny Animal version of the mainstream DCU), and is part of his world's "JLA" (the "Just'a Lotta Animals").
- Green-Eyed Monster: Arthur's brother, Prince Orm (aka the Ocean Master), despises him for taking the throne. This was also the motivation for the traitorous Captain Rodunn in Rick Veitch's 2003 run, but he repented after Aquaman saved his life.
- Green Eyed Red Head: Mera
- Gullible Lemmings: Atlantean culture is mired in an atrocious history of following the wrong guy down a dark path. Usually after a cabal of racist jerks supporting him or her work said ingrates into ousting Arthur, only to lead them all down the path to isolation and ruin.
- Hair of Gold: Aquaman
- Aquaman's mother Atlanna (pre-Crisis)
- Half-Human Hybrid
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: He can summon sea life. ALL sea life. Do you know how many living things exist within a cubic mile of ocean? That's not even taking into account the strength, durability and sheer force of will he possesses.
- He commands all sea life, furthermore he's one of the most powerful telepaths in the entire DCU due to the fact that all life of earth (and several other planets) evolved from the sea and he can use his powers to tap into that part of the brain to control whatever the hell he wants.
- Not to mention that, as has been pointed out elsewhere on this wiki, his skillset makes Aquaman effectively the ruler of over three quarters of our planet's surface. He's also not above pointing it out himself when people start giving him lip.
- And that doesn't account for his Required Secondary Powers. He can swim really fast and get into fistfights under 500+ atmospheres of pressure. Yet he doesn't explode when he comes up to sea level. Anyone who knows the physics behind this will realize that this makes him every bit as strong and Nigh Invulnerable as Superman.
- Heroic Dolphin: Pom, the dolphin who acted as a surrogate mother to Aquaman.
- Heroic Sacrifice: If Sword of Atlantis had not been canceled, Arthur Joseph would have given up the part of Orin's soul that had kept him alive in order to revive him so that the original Aquaman could save the world from an evil sea god.
- However, the original Aquaman was revived as part of Brightest Day and no mention has been made of Artie Joe since.
- Important Haircut: Most of the different interpretations of the character can be distinguished by their combination of beard and hairstyles. Classic Aquaman (short hair and no beard), stoic Aquaman who was a frequent guest star without a series of his own (long hair and no beard), Badass Barbarian Aquaman (long hair and long beard), Boisterous Bruiser Aquaman (short hair, short beard), and Joseph Curry (long hair and no beard).
- The "real name" being by Aquaman at the time also tends to reveal the orientation of the character. Classic Aquaman tends to be called Arthur, Barbarian Aquaman tends to be called Orin, and Joseph is . . . well, Joseph, the only one of the four different interpretations to literally be a totally different character.
- In a Single Bound: Being fully adapted to live in the pressure of the deepest sea trenches, Aquaman and Mera while on surface are both able to leap miles at at time through the air, with Incredible Hulk-like jumps.
- In-Series Nickname: While Mera found that amusing during the '60s run, a slight annoyance in the '90s, she's now shown as completely fed up at the amount of people calling her Aquawife or Aquawoman, and ready to snap towards them whether they use the unwanted fan nickname in her presence.
- Jerkass Has a Point: A couple of the more antagonistic entities in the world of Aquaman tend to list the faults and flaws of both humanity and the mariner races of Atlantis. Usually, they tend to be spot on about them too.
- The Abyssal Dark, a malefic arcane force spawned by pre-history Atlantean sorcerers who became overly reliant upon magic as opposed to science. Jabbed at the Atlanteans for being a stagnant pack of idiots too the hideously mutated King Rath whose dabbling in it's power put all of his hideousness out in the open for all too see.
- Namma, A.K.A. Mother Salt, a powerful and hideously vindictive Primordial Deity. Held endless contempt for her own divine spawn and all of their creations for murdering her husband eons prior to the dawn of man. She spited them all as fools and malcontents for wasting their energy garnering the faith in worthless mortals whom eventually forgot about them over the millennia.
- Kraken and Leviathan: He's been called on to fight these things a few times. For obvious reasons, Aquaman can deal with them on a much more level playing field.
- Love Redeems: Mera, post Brightest Day. Raised as little more than an assassin, her only purpose in life enacting her people's revenge towards Atlantis, she was meant to get close to the then-current Atlantis' king and start tearing apart the undersea kingdom from behind. However, she found Aquaman noble, gentle and likeable, becoming an affectionate wife and a heroine on her own.
- Legacy Character: Arthur Joseph Curry.
- Making a Splash: The 1960s Aquaman cartoons showed him hurling "hard water balls" at his enemies under water.
- Malcolm Xerox: Black Manta
- Though later events showed that Manta was actually lying about that because the truth (water was the only thing that gave him solace as a kid) is kind of embarrassing.
- "Later events"? He basically said "I'm doing this for black people!" then when all the black separatists he had duped have left the room he turned to Aquaman and basically says "Nah, I'm doing this for the money. I can't believe they fall for that crap!" It all happens in the same issue, and yet people act like the Malcolm X-like motivation lasted for a while. It lasted until you turned the page. Different origins and motivations have been proposed for Manta over the years, but the one that's really lasted is "he's just a nasty greedy self-centered bastard".
- Though later events showed that Manta was actually lying about that because the truth (water was the only thing that gave him solace as a kid) is kind of embarrassing.
- My Friends and Zoidberg: Parodies of Aquaman use this frequently due to his powers, as the above quote explains.
- Never Heard That One Before: You may not have heard about this, but he talks to fish!
- Non-Human Sidekick: Topo the Octopus in the comics and Fluke the Dolphin in Batman the Brave And The Bold.
- Never My Fault: Atlanteans tend to have a nasty little habit of turning on one another or blaming someone else for their faults whenever Atlantis is destroyed and their lives end in ruins as a result of their own poor choices. Case in point, after Atlantis was destroyed during Day of Vengeance the survivors turned their anger on the magicians who lost their powers as a result of which. Thinking it was they're dabbling in the forbidden craft that drew the Spectre's ire which actually was the case. As if letting a arcane shadow government takeover, whom motivated them into having Arthur exiled and death sentenced for saving them from being enslaved by their jerkass ancestors in the Obsidian Age afterwards. And that was just the latest in a long, LONG list of misguided blunders on the idiot race's account due to appointing blind, selfish leaders who reflect the city and it's culture's worst traits.
- Our Mermaids Are Different: There are pretty much three different distinct varieties of Atlantean in Aquaman's oceans. Poseidonians - the Apparently Human Merfolk like Aquaman and most of the other Atlanteans. Tritonaians - your mermaids and mermen like Lori Lemaris. And an unnamed race of Fish People like Lagoon Boy, the animated version of Triton, or the revamped Topo. In Superman #129, it was established that when scientists learned that Atlantis was sinking, they built a giant dome over the city, then later found a way to convert the populace into merfolk. As to why this has anything to do with Aquaman, Adventure Comics #280 tells that not everyone became merfolk successfully, thus a domed city remained necessary. This origin was later retconned in The Atlantis Chronicles, where is clearly stated that the acquatic serum was never meant to convert Atlanteans into merfolks, but rather to merely give them the ability to breathe water and thrive in the ocean. The merfolk came to be much later as an accident, when Shalako, a villainous wizard-prince of Atlantis, just to spite his scientist brother, tampered with the special serum used to achieve the transformation, turning his denizens into frog-legged humans, who later gave birth to the current merfolk. So, while every Atlantean city was originally domed, some of them got the domes dismantled for the benefit of the merfolks. Curiously, the Fish People of Atlantis have yet to be given either an official name or origin story in the entirety of the franchise's history.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: For all the grief that pop culture gives him, Aquaman is by no means a lightweight - command over all sea-life, de-facto leader of the oceans and super-strength among other qualities. Problem is, he regularly hangs out with powerhouses like Superman and Wonder Woman.
- Both of whom, it's worth noting, he's fought to stalemate at various points.
- Don't forget that a lot of the time, the fights need to be dealt on land, limiting his signature abilities.
- Papa Wolf: If you threaten his kid... huh, you're dead.
- Make that Deader Than Dead.
- Some people still don't get it so let's see if we can make this any more clear: If you ever mess with his kid, or any other member of his family, or his friends, or even the nice kid who delivers his paper Aquaman will fucking END you. There will be no discussion, there won't even be a warning, you'll just be dead and will never have seen it coming.
- What ARE you people going on about? His most famous kid is dead. Because his arch-enemy killed the kid. His arch-enemy who is still very much alive. It's pretty much the only example of a superhero having a kid, who a villain kills, with the villain surviving. And it's a huge part of his story.
- Make that Deader Than Dead.
- Psychic Powers: Usually only works on fish and other marine life... but since all life on Earth came from the ocean, Aquaman can telepathically stun even humans (though this takes a lot out of him).
- When he gave landing an enemy a seizure though tapping into their basal ganglia, Aquaman does it fairly casually, and he even says for starters he can give a seizure to incapacitate, implying that's not even all he's got. And what's more, he did it to a martian, which are naturally strong telepaths in the first place.
- Redshirt Army: Mainly anyone of the atlantean military who switches loyalties from King Arthur to the latest undeserving douche bag in overtaking the monarchy and leading they're equally ignorant society members down the path of Mutually Assured Destruction. The first to fall and die on the latest coup/revolution against the remaining 20% of the world and its inhabitants are usually the moronic naval fodder whom revel in brutalizing anything or anyone different from them 99.99 percent of the time.
- Required Secondary Powers: Due to being adapted for life deep underwater as well as dry land Aquaman has basically won the Superpower Lottery: He's strong and tough to the point where he can lift around 20 tons, has several Super Senses, is very fast, and his telepathic abilities are as strong as (if not stronger than) the Martian Manhunter.
- Aquaman is actually far above twenty tons, both in and out of water. And he's even admitted J'onn is the more powerful telepath
- Rogues Gallery Transplant: The Shark and King Shark started out menacing Green Lantern and Superboy, respectively.
- Running Gag: Aquaman's love of hot dogs. This led to a hilarious moment when he was forced to see a doctor for an unrelated issue, and told he should be eating more fish.
- Ruthless Modern Pirates: Aquaman often clashes with pirates.
- Black Manta himself is a submarine pirate.
- Screw You, Elves: Atlantis and its jerkass people regularly hate and discriminate against humanity for a bunch of crap that they brought upon themselves. Calling mankind hateful, degenerate and self-destructive when it was their own ancestors who destroyed Atlantis in the first place. Some of the first Humans, no less. In either continuity, be it pre to post-Crisis/Flashpoint, New 52 or Rebirth; the idiot peoples often all portray many of the worst qualities of man upon each other -- segregation, persecution, ethnic cleansing, all of which were present during the Crown of Thorns arc in Aquaman Rebirth comics.
- Sidekick: The Aqualads and Aquagirls.
- Straw Hypocrite: A lot of that going around within the oceanic cultures of the world. In the Sink Atlantis arc the very same hateful people of the now risen Atlantis, whom spent the better part of 20-30 issues. As well as thousands of years before that, holding the Ninth Tride slums in contempt for being a nesting ground of criminals and undesirables; e.i. The Sea Changed, people who were physically altered by magic and years spent adapting to life under the sea resulting in they're resemblance to the local fauna. A great many of the more fearful lot of the population fled in terror to these lower trides because they were so afraid of the open air and the light of day, even though they can breath air just fine.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: Only a few amongst the seafarer population possess the ability to commune with marine life, for Atlantean royals, like Aquaman. It is they're birthright.
- Super Strength: His super-strength is often underestimated, but to drive the point home, a minor science fact. At it's deepest regions the sea has a pressure of 8 tons per square inch, the weight of forty-eight 747 Boeing jets. And this is for every inch of water on either side, above, and below you, in all directions as far as you can see. Aquaman not only survives this without exploding like a tube of toothpaste in a pressure cooker, he is strong enough under water to do things like lift an entire city block of San Diego to prevent it from sinking. Since he doesn't explosively decompress when he gets out of water like most deep sea animals do, he is keeping back the weight of the ocean with his muscles, so being on land would actually make him STRONGER because he's not "holding back" the weight of the entire ocean, sort of like a human being's greatly amplified lifting strength from being on the lesser gravity of the moon. The new Geoff Johns run even draws this visual parallel with his massive In a Single Bound jumps.
- Used in Geoff Johns's run to show just how serious Aquaman and Mera can get.
- Just as a warming up, Aquaman lifts with ease an armored truck on his own head, impaling it on his snazzy trident.
- Mera grabs a would-to-be abuser's arm and gives him just a light squeeze. That's enough to cripple him for life.
- Used in Geoff Johns's run to show just how serious Aquaman and Mera can get.
- The Chew Toy: In more than a way.
- Aquaman's life, after the Superfriends screwed his reputation, has spiraled into a long series of blunders and humiliations. In order: he lost his beloved son, was left by his wife (who, by the way, started to openly loathe and hate him, berating him for A.J.'s death with every breath), was exiled again from Atlantis with no apparent reason, got his left hand eaten by piranhas, pursued a relationship with a Cute Mute aquatic girl who later became noticeably less mute and somewhat less cute (trying to kill him because of a major Mind Screw, leaving him for Tempest), became king again and got back Mera just to be later exiled, cursed and left to die by Atlantean Wizards, became the Champion of the Lady of the Lake and major of a city of modern waterbreathers just to be forced to trade his humanoid looks and sanity for keeping them alive, died while grooming his successor, was called back as a soulless inanimated corpse, was resurrected to have his hand lopped off (again) and was unwillingly turned into the new Water Elemental. He got better every time, but that's not the point.
- Remember all the Superfriend jokes? During Geoff Johns run, it's revealed that they exist even in-universe. And everyone in the DC Universe feels entitled to openly berate the guy who speaks with fishes, married to Aquawoman or Aquawife (who may be a mermaid who turns into a woman when dry), broke because of a lack of employment, wearing a ridicolous shirt and useless if compared with the rest of the League. This despite, as mentioned elsewhere, the Superfriends portrayal being the exception to the rule and the character actually being quite Badass.
- Tame His Anger: Aquaman tries to get Black Manta to do this. It doesn't work.
- Thematic Rogues Gallery: Most of Aquaman's enemies are involved with water and the ocean in one form or another.
- To Hell and Back: Near the end of PAD's run, Triton has killed Poseidon and is kicking the crap out of Aquaman and friends. Aquaman lets Triton kill him, so he can get to the afterlife. Once there, he decks Charon, rallies the souls who didn't have boatfare, jacks Charon's boat, runs Charon over with his own boat, storms the literal Gates of Hell, cuts off one of Cerberus' heads, marches right up to Pluto and demands Poseidon back, ultimately convincing Hades with a very solid Batman Gambit. On his way out, Cerberus is back, and Aquaman has just one word for the titanic guardian of the underworld: Stay.
- Too Dumb to Live: Atlanteans, again, in full. Every time they try to elect a new leader over Arthur due to their fascist narrow mindedness and equally simpleminded hatred, fear and petty racism of the surface world. They're penchant for electing bigoted, ignorant, self-serving jackasses who cause twice as much damage to their crapsuck nation in a few seconds than most of mankind has done to the world in billions of years really begs the question how the people of these assbackwards nameless nations have survived for so long.
- Ungreatful Townsfolk: Pretty much everybody. From the jerkwater citizenship of Atlantis whom Arthur has to save from their own cack-handed attempts at democracy time and time again, to the equally asinine homo sapiens who aren't much better off but are a lot more disrespectful to the jaundiced hero and the world they call home. Nevermind the fact that he saves these jerks from themselves on a weekly basis, given all the flack they've given him? They are all lucky that Arthur is a kindly, decent Friend to All Living Things who's big enough to ignore their yap. And not as unforgiving, conniving or ill-tempered as another Nature Hero who'd no sooner drown or fillet them than put up with crap from either side of the idiot coin.
- Upbringing Makes the Hero: In some continuities.
- Subverted with Mera, a clear case of Love Redeems.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: In Dan Jurgens' underappreciated run on the book, the tyrannical surface nation of Cerdia went to war with Atlantis. Arthur appealed to the U.N. for help, to no avail. So Arthur and his people fought back and won, conquering Cerdia--all nice and legal because it was a defensive war, and Arthur had gone to the United Nations first. Arthur swears to the Cerdians that he will be a better ruler than the tyrants he has deposed, and is optimistic that having territory on dry land will make Atlantis more of a "real country" in the eyes of the world. A Flash Forward story even confirms that that will happen. Then the book was canceled, and we never heard anything about Cerdia ever again.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Aquaman is traditionally the poster-child for this trope, mainly thanks to Superfriends. However, due to overcompensation by modern writers it no longer really applies to him, see Heart Is an Awesome Power above.
- As stated above, Geoff Johns has pushed this trope into a dichotomy: while the reader now knows how useful are Aquaman's powers, the DC Universe internal public, accustomed to people as Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, sees Aquaman as the Superfriends equivalent.
- What You Are in the Dark: Arthur is all too aware of how ugly, hateful and rotten the atlantean people can be compared to the surface dwellers they've all come to fear and hate. Noting that, during his times as a king in exile, that there are a great number among them. Either citizen or in the military, who are all cruel and irredeemable by nature and will gleefully look for any given excuse to war with just about anything and/or anyone whom they find displeasing to them.
- You Are What You Hate: For all of Atlantis and the other sea faring cities fear and bigotry against the surface world, a lot of the fin faced bigots and bastards tend to perpetrate humanities worst qualities better than them. Especially against one another, as evident during the Crown of Thorns arc where the jerkass royals commit to segregation, persecution and outright genocidal profiling and extermination of citizens from the lower trides. On the seachanged of their city whom had taken on the physiological traits of marine life due to spending thousands of years adapting to the oceanic environment; people whom supposed true atlanteans scornfully call said undesirables taintbloods as a racial slur.