Friday, December 10, 2010

Aquaman Rules

Aquaman rules.

And I mean that both figuratively and literally.

Like most Aqua-philes, I am all a-twitter about the (supposed) revelation that Geoff Johns will be writing Aquaman next year, and writing him as the head of the Justice League.

Is this truth? Does it mean GJ will be writing the "Justice League" and it'll have Aquaman return to whip the current cast of also-rans into shape? Or will his Superfriends rejoin? Or does it mean that there will be a new Aquaman title, GJ's writing it, and Aquaman's role as JLA leader will be explored there? Or is all this just something that will be noted in passing as GJ writes Aquaman in some other book, like Brightest Day?

I don't know exactly what is The Truth; but I know that GJ writing Aquaman is The Good, and that's close enough for me.

As I've written before, seriously and not so seriously, Aquaman is a leader, a commander. Other heroes, in their private lives, have substantial but typical roles: reporters, policeman, military, scientists, engineers, architects, billionaire playboys. You know, the regular kind of people who show up at your high school reunion.

But in his private life, Aquaman rules an undersea continent. Or, every living thing in the sea. Or both. Aquaman is not just powerful as an individual, but as someone who directs the collective power of others. As powerful and interesting as his colleagues are, they are, for the most part, solo acts. As such, they are not as well suited to lead the JLA as someone who is all about command.

Ever watch the Filmation Aquaman series? Do you remember the one thing Aquaman said in almost every episode? It was...

"We need help."

To the naive, that may seem like weakness: Poor "lame Aquaman" can't handle anything by himself and needs fish to save him. To the experienced, that shows that Aquaman is a leader who realizes he can accomplish more and do it more effectively with the help of others. And, isn't that the concept at the very core of the Justice League? Or any team?

Alex Ross recognized this when he made Aquaman the tacit leader-among-equals in Justice. Geoff Johns recognizes this, too. Even the Silver Age writers of the Justice League had a sense of Aquaman's unique role , as you can see by The Time Aquaman Defeated Felix Faust When Everyone Else Was Helpless, or the time when the JLA were each pitted in individual death contests on alien worlds, and it was Aquaman who coached every single one of them to victory.

Even the Batman: Brave & the Bold series version of Aquaman, who is known mostly for his boisteriousness, is portrayed as someone who intentionally inspires others to heroism and who coordinates other in heroic escapades (as in the episode on planet Rann).

To those who say Aquaman cannot be saved, here's a reminder. Not that long ago, Barry Allen and Hal Jordan were dead characters, both in and out of story. All it took was someone to identify their characters' essential features and build around them to bring them back better than ever. That someone was Geoff Johns, and I'm hoping that his perceptiveness in that regard will help make Aquaman the Sensational Character Find of 2011.


Gene Phillips said...

A very good defense of Aquaman.

Your Obedient Serpent said...

If Johns can fix Hawkman after he'd been declared "radioactive", he can fix anyone.

SallyP said...

Woohoo! I love Aquaman! Especially in all of his orange and green short-haired two-fisted glory. A new Aquaman book would be an excellent idea, and I can hardly wait.

Dave said...

The BatB Aquaman is the greatest version of the character ever, and I'd pay cash money for a comics series starring that guy.

SallyP said...

Dave, did you see last week's BatB episode, with the JLI? And Aquaman of course. I'd kill to have a cartoon with Guy, Fire, Ice, Booster J'onn, Beetle and Aquaman. Oh, and Batman too, I suppose.

JRainey said...

Good article. I have been saying this about Aquaman for years. He doesn't use his finny friends because he can't fight his own battles. He asks them for help cause he believes in a team effort. He believes in being apart of the group. It's the reason he tried to keep the JLA together. It's the reason he's tried to keep Atlantis together. Even when they turned on him he still returned and gave them his all. And that's the Aquaman I know and love.

LissBirds said...

The only thing I worry about is: if Aquaman is the leader of the JLA, where does that leave the Martian Manhunter?

I'm worried he's going to be living on Mars and not caring about humanity by the end of Brightest Day.

Scipio said...

I'm assuming it's the opposite, Liss; he's abadon the fool's errand of revitalizing Mars, and re-commit to Earth and humanity.

Bill Reed said...

I adore Aquaman, which is exactly why the prospect of Geoff Johns writing an Aquaman comic scares the hell out of me.