Friday, December 09, 2005

Love Aquaman; Hate the Sword

I like Aquaman. I really like Aquaman.

That's why I won't be buying this crap, described by the author as J.R. Tolkein meets Tom Clancy. That's like Scylla and Charbydis, gas or electrocution, Loeb or Miller. Just shoot me now, and, while you're at it, cancel my current subscription because the fine set up that Pfeiffer and Arcudi have done with Sub Diego is going to be shot to hell anyway.

”Mostly, it's to have a fresh start,” Busiek responded, “and not to constantly be dealing with some of the narrative problems that have plagued Aquaman over the years.”

"Fresh starts" are the narrative problems that have plagued Aquaman over the years.

A new person will be Aquaman? Yeah! That worked brilliantly with Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern!

"And we're not killing Orin (the current Aquaman), not making him a villain, not scrapping him -- in time, he'll turn up in the series again."

Well, what more could anyone ask?

"During the course of our Q&A, Busiek also explained how he’s been “intrigued” over how Aquaman has "slowly, slowly" been changed over time, until becoming what the writer feels is almost a “complete reversal” of the original idea…"

And becoming less and less popular as a result. Yes, let's continue that by all means.

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis. No, it's really called that, even though most people think it's a joke when they first hear it. And somehow the title sounds ... familiar.

Oh, that's right: Sword of Atom, the last time that DC out of desperation, let a writer shove a superhero into a Sword & Sorcery dress and make a fool of him.

I'll go on record --right now-- as predicting that, despite Busiek's talent, Sword of Atlantis will be an enormous flop, thereafter to be replaced by

yet another

reboot of Aquaman based on the hit WB series, Devil's Deep, a.k.a. "A.C. = O.C."


If I wanted to read Conan, I would.

40 comments:

Franny said...

I totally agree. Although the first time I heard about this, Rob Liefield's name was attatched to it, and I assumed it was all a joke. I suppose I was half-right.

File this along with the new Ion series in the "I love you guys, but I'd rather stab myself repeatedly in the hand with a pen" drawer. At least, that's what I call it. It's where I keep the All-Star books too.

ostrakos said...

That coincides nicely with the Warlord relaunch as well.

naladahc said...

I've patiently waited all day since I read that article for you to post about this.

Spencer Carnage said...

Ha! For some strange reason, the sadness of Aquaman fans over this change warms my cold, cold heart. Time to start a proper acronym-ly named club to bring the old Aquaman back.

K26dp said...

It's Busiek. I'll give it a chance.

H said...

<"Fresh starts" are the narrative problems that have plagued Aquaman over the years.>

Amen.

Sword of the Atom wasn't a bad book, but it's not what I wanted as an Atom adventure. This Sword of Atlantis thing may or may not be good, but based on the news release, it's not going to be an Aquaman adventure.

Can't we just have the King of the Seas back patrolling the waterways of the world and encountering high adventure while doing so?

Derek B. Haas said...

ABSORBASCANDAL!

Benari said...

Yes DC, by all means, let's make one of your most recognizable icons MORE convoluted and unrecognizable. Perfect timing, too, as Aquaman has now been firmly cemented in main stream pop culture through HBO's Entourage and an upcoming WB show. Brilliant marketing move. Busiek's a great writer and he deserve's the benefit of the doubt, but Aquaman has had other great writers; great writing is not Aquaman's problem.

Has DC not learned the lessons of the 90s? People recognize your characters. Why insist on making them UNRECOGNIZABLE? Please stop trying to make comics remain viable for 40 year old dudes - make them fun and viable for their kids. And then everyone can enjoy them. You'll see this when you release "Showcase Presents: Aquaman", I'm sure.

Despite numerous cancellations, failed series, and reboots, Aquaman (with the orange-and-green costume popularized by the Super Friends) has survived and maintained a fond place in the public's collective consciousness for decades. Just check out the numerous hipster shirts that bear Aquaman's iconic image. Maybe there's something to that...

Scipio said...

What they are doing with Aquaman now is EXACTLY what they let Peter David do with him (and Supergirl)... and the same with Veitch, too.

They're letting someone who thinks "yeah this is character is stupid" creat a completely different character and slap the original character's name on the book.

"Old time Aquaman/Supergirl fans will buy it out of slavish devotion, and new fans who want a completely different type of thing will sign on, too, and the book's sales will double!"

Some people want a ham sandwich, some want a beautiful prom date; I know! Let's give them a pig in a dress!

totaltoyz said...

Oh, that's right: Sword of Atom, the last time that DC out of desperation, let a writer shove a superhero into a Sword & Sorcery dress and make a fool of him.

Remember...Haljor the Barbarian??

Jeff R. said...

You know, Sword of the Atom was the only Atom run I ever liked at all.

I'm going to give this other Sword a chance, I think. I trust Busiek.

Gokitalo said...

This new direction could be quite interesting (especially with Busiek at the helm), but I'm very disappointed that Orin will no longer be Aquaman. I've read very little of his series, but I've always enjoyed the character's appearances in "JLA" and his guest-appearances in other comics, like "Superman."

Besides, I don't think it's impossible to write Aquaman adventures while he's a king. Just mix in some politics, science fiction, magic, and some good old superheroics, then stir. Plus, seeing Aquaman juggle his duties a king and his superhero life would've been fun, I think.

"Has DC not learned the lessons of the 90s? People recognize your characters. Why insist on making them UNRECOGNIZABLE?"

Because the sad truth is, making the heroes unrecognizable actually does sell sometimes. When Hal Jordan went mad and was replaced by Kyle Rayner, it saved the "Green Lantern" title. Not only was it being bought by the people who liked Kyle and the new direction of the series, but it was also being bought by those infuriated with the change and wanted to see what the heck was going on.

I predict the same thing could happen with Aquaman. But whether or not the sales of the title will continue to be strong over time is the question. Otherwise, as Scipio said, we'd end up with another Aqua-reboot. Hopefully with Arthur reclaiming the Aquaman mantle.

Still, kudos to DC and Kurt Busiek for not killing Orin and for not making him evil. And I do like that new costume although it would've looked cool on Arthur too; after all, I thought the mystery-man in the Aquacostume WAS Arthur at first.

Tom Curry said...

Eeeeeesh.

Aquaman's an icon. Whimsical, yes. Even sort of lovably goofy. But instantly and internationally recognizable nonetheless.

Yep, Aquaman is an icon.

"Aquaman," however, is a trademark.

DC regards the title as just that -- a title, a placeholder. A slot to fill with whatever content they deem marketable. And that's their right, of course.

So, periodically, they get someone to fill the slot with something different. So PAD goes with Barbarian King Aquaman, and Jurgens goes with Troubled Commander in Chief Aquaman, and Veitch goes with New Age Healing Crystal Kundalini Patchouli Aquaman, and Larsen goes with .... whatever the hell THAT was about.

This, though, is an entirely new "take" (read: character.) But a character in a book called "Aquaman" (even a book called ... sigh ... "Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis") doesn't become the icon known as Aquaman simply by virtue of his presence in the book.

This too, shall pass.

Like kidney stones.

I suspect -- okay, I hope -- that DC gets this, and is just stunt-casting the title for a while to kick up some interest. Welcome to the cutting edge of 1993.

But I suppose it's inevitable. After all, of the big seven, only Aquaman and Martian Manhunter haven't yet been forced to slog through a "New Character Takes the Mantle" storyarc. (Actually PAD was going to replace Arthur at the end of his run, but DC nixed it.)

New-Aquaman-Guy? I'd like you to meet Azrael. And Artemis. And Cyborg/Superboy/Eradicator/Steel. And Connor Hawke. And, yes, Kyle Rayner. And...it is rumored ... Wally West.

Me, I'm actually looking forward to One Year Later...than One Year Later, when a lot of this nonsense will sink back into the fevered, corporate marketing-meeting muck from which it arose.

kyle said...

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis..Sword of the Atom...

I'm looking forward to the inevitable Sword of the Elongated Man.

Blockade Boy said...

Here's my idea for an acronym-ly named club for disgruntled Aquaman fans: Make Orin Into Something Terrific, or MOIST.

Captain Infinity said...

Some people want a ham sandwich, some want a beautiful prom date; I know! Let's give them a pig in a dress!

Even that sounds more interesting than Sword of Atlantis.

Sigh. I miss Aquaman already.

Jeffrey said...

Was wondering how you'd react to this.

I'll be picking up my first Aquaman comic, on account of Kurt Busiek, and the direction he seems to be going in does sound interesting.

Anonymous said...

h writes: "Can't we just have the King of the Seas back patrolling the waterways of the world and encountering high adventure while doing so?"

You know, that's kind of the problem. Aquaman might have worked better in the days when ships were a more common mode of transportation. Now, everyone takes planes. All that's left on the sea are Carnival cruise lines running limited routes, and massive container ships with a handful of crew.

More to the point, I don't think we as a culture as as oceanically oriented as we once were. The sea isn't the first choice when people think of "high adventure". When people think of seeing the world, they don't usually plan on sailing.

Perhaps Aquaman should be redone in an Age of Steam approach, set somewhere between 1850 and 1950. Perhaps he could join the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Anonymous said...

From the few rumors I've come across about the upcoming TV show thing, it will probably end up not resembing any previous comicbook version of aquaman, so any hypothetical fans of the show going to a comicbook store in search of aquaman would be disapointed no matter what.

If this had happened several years ago I would have been more bothered by it, but despite my irrational apreciation of aquaman, it's been hard to care about him ever since the revision which turned him into an undersea tarzan raised by dolphins instead of apes.

But a sword and sorcery version? While magic, fantasy, and sensuality have always seemed to play a part of the character, conan under the sea seems an odd way to go. I guess I just can't get past the idea of how idiotic waving a sword around underwater would look, which is probably why the art they showed, as nice as it was, had no sense of an ocean setting.

Ugh, this means buxom rustproof chainmail bikini clad female barbarians don't it.

Anonymous said...

i forgot to sign the danged thing again. That last comment was from me, nico.

Anonymous said...

It's entirely possible that this was a project already underway which didn't have anything to do with Aquaman. After the recent spate of interest, perhaps they just plastered "Aquaman" on the title, to make it a tie-in.

totaltoyz said...

A new person will be Aquaman? Yeah! That worked brilliantly with Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern!

Well, it was so successful with the Flash, I think DC is going to keep trying it until lightning strikes a second time.

If this doesn't work, they'll probably get rid of Billy Batson and make someone new Captain Marvel. Maybe a 15-year-old African-American inner-city hip-hopper. "Hey, yo, Shizizam, what?"

Captain Infinity said...

If this doesn't work, they'll probably get rid of Billy Batson and make someone new Captain Marvel. Maybe a 15-year-old African-American inner-city hip-hopper.

Funny thing is, that almost happened...

Ragnell said...

I think the success of this venture depends on the personality replacing the icon.

With Batman, they used a cheesy, contrived 90s stock character.

With Wonder Woman, a cheesy, contrived, 90s stock character.

With Superman, they actually used villains and sidekicks.

But, with the Flash, they used a character everyone knew and liked anyway -- Wally West. It worked beautifully.

With Green Lantern, they tried it several times until they set on a personality that was in a lot of ways the oppostie of their Standard Green Lantern, but was still a relatable personality (Mock the Spiderman similarities if you will -- it still worked!) that carried the title for eleven years. It's a character that still would have worked if they'd tried something different than bringing his predecessor back to rejuvenate sales (although I love the direction they took, they could have boosted sales to the standard with a simple writer change rather than upping the standard as well), and they obviously consider him popular enough to carry a title again now.

So, 2 out of 5 times it's worked. 3 out of 5 its tanked.

Now, my money with Aquaman is on this new direction tanking and we get the classic version back in a year. But, who knows? It could work.

And it is better than killing him off again. They're really just giving the real Aquaman a hiatus.

Scipio said...

Green Lantern and Flash were Silver/Bronze Age replacements for the Golden Age versions; thus, they admit of replacement. Bottom line: they are costumes + powers; who possesses those is a detail.

The Four "Superfriends" (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman) are the ongoing Golden Age icons, those who survived the Senatorial purge of comics in the 1950s, which is why they do NOT admit of replacement. They are particular individuals, not merely roles to assumed by others.

Mallet said...

When I talk about Aquaman to my friends (oh and I do to great detail) they think the superfriend version. My freinds and I weren't even alive for the superfriends, and thats still our version of Aquaman. I know of the Blue outfit, Barbarian king, and mystic water hand Aquaman's. The point is though that no matter how he changes we know what he looks like.

Now if say I talk about ohhh, The Creeper or Blue Devil or hell even Firestorm, they don't know exactly what the character looks like.

They aren't comic fans and don't know most characters, but they know Aquaman. He's joked on, insulted, downright hated by some but they still know what he looks like. They still essentially know the character (talking to fish, water breathing, the basics).

I'll read the comic because I still like DC, Buseik, and Atlantis. Plus taking an old villian and making use of him is neat. But unless this comic is really good I can't see them even looking through my pile to make fun of it.

It just wouldn't be Aquaman.

Anonymous said...

For some reason this comic sounds like a DC Undersea version of CrossGen's Scion comic. The young prince, mysterious companions, swords and sorcery.

Ragnell said...

Scipio - How do you make text seem so much like an audible scolding? Is it your passion for Aquaman seeping through?

Scipio said...

I think, Ragnell, that the answer to your question is too long for me to comment on here, and that I shall post on it in the near future.

Stayed tuned!

Scarlett Drake said...

Wait a minute, you don't read Conan?

Mario Di Giacomo said...

Just a few counter-examples.

Jack Knight.
Tim Drake.
Cassandra Cain.
Pieter Cross.

methane said...

"The Four 'Superfriends' (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman) are the ongoing Golden Age icons, those who survived the Senatorial purge of comics in the 1950s, which is why they do NOT admit of replacement."

Doesn't Green Arrow belong in that group? His publishing history essentially coincides with Aquaman's, and his Justice League history is almost as long. He was never a Super Friend, I guess.

BTW, I know you're not a GA fan, but how do you compare the aborted attempt to replace Ollie with the other replacement attempts that people have brought up here (Flash, Supes, GL, etc.)?

Scipio said...

Green Arrow ALMOST makes the cut, for all the reasons you mentioned.

The four Superfriends weren't just unchanged from Golden to Silver Age --
they appeared continously. Aquaman, though a back up feature, still appeared during the Senatorial Darkness, whereas Green Arrow did not.

As for Ollie's replacement, I liked him better than I liked Ollie. But it didn't stick, did it? I think if it had been Speedy, it would have stuck.

totaltoyz said...

The four Superfriends weren't just unchanged from Golden to Silver Age --
they appeared continously. Aquaman, though a back up feature, still appeared during the Senatorial Darkness, whereas Green Arrow did not.


I want five of whatever you're taking. Green Arrow was a backup feature in the same titles that Aquaman was, Adventure Comics and World's Finest.

Andrew said...

Ditto on the "you don't read Conan?"

methane said...

Just seconding totaltoyz' remark, scip. Green Arrow shared the backup feature with Aquaman during the Dark Ages!

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Arrow for more details.

Scipio said...

Razzin frakkin "Green Arrow"...

Highlander said...

Back in college, my old buddy Slappy (some of you know him as Kurt Busiek) always swore blind he could make Aquaman interesting. He wanted to do it by developing the Atlantis backdrop in a fairly sensible manner, as an exotic locale with its own peculiar laws of physics, exploring things like its trade agreements with the rest of the world, its own internal mores and odd social ceremonies, and getting into lots of interesting back ground details like, you know, how do people who live under the sea actually sleep, and do they have beds, and stairs, and stuff like that... I think he mentioned something about wanting to make Atlantis "something like Casablanca, only, you know, Rick really could have gone there for the waters".

Or maybe I just made that last line up. It sounds like Slappy, though.

All through college, Slappy derisively referred to the Jan Strnad Atom series as SORT OF THE ATOM.

As nearly always happens when I come across some project of Slappy's these days, my head spins, and I briefly have to wonder, if I could pull the Slappy I knew in 1979, or even in 1982, out of the time stream, and show him some of the stuff he's done in the ensuing quarter century, would he be as appalled as I am?

I mean, his college roommate Andy used to read CONAN comics all the time, and Slappy used to laugh at him for it.

I believe he'd be proud of the JLA/Avengers mini, and well he should be, it may be the finest superhero comics story ever written...

...but SWORD OF ATLANTIS would, I believe, make the Slappy I used to hang out with choke.

He was a fun guy. I kind of miss him.

Jhunt said...

First the A-S Superman slash-n-burn, now this over-the-top attack on DC for the new Aquaman series?! You're hurting me, Scipio.

In my brain!

I blogged about you and your Aqua-ttacks (ha!) because they're hurting me and the rest of the kids so much. Please stop.

Love,

Jhunt

rob said...

i am a lifelong Aquaman fan (i even had a letter printed in Entertainment Weekly defending the character from a snide article they wrote about him a few months ago), and i even own a massive Aquaman merchandise collection. (yet i still show my face outside!)

your site was the first i've ever seen that coincided with how i always thought Aquaman should be handled--give him a setting MORE similar to Superman, Batman, etc, not less. what kid (in theory,l since kids don't read comics, but you know what i mean) can relate to a guy who is KING OF ATLANTIS and lives underwater all the time?

every writer that gets his grubby, cheetoz-stained mitts on Arthur seems determined to--as you put it--head him in the wrong direction, literally. *sigh*

poor Art will survive this, and even tho I have great respect for Kurt Busiek as a writer, this A:SOA run will end up in the bargain bins in about six months. DC will cancel the title--AGAIN--and tell themselves that Aquaman just doesn't sell.