I'm not sure why everyone thinks Aquagirl is bland. She's demonstrably emotional, pugnacious, and headstrong. Hers is unchanneled passion; Aquaman, by his example, is mentoring her in channeling passion effectively. Part of her storytelling function is highlighting Aquaman's character; he still tends to be "angry" but when he is, he directs that anger toward a constructive purpose (or tries!). She has helped me see that we can (and finally do) have an Aquaman who is likeable, admirable, AND an ass-kicker.
Some Aquagirl character moments...
- She wants Aquaman to kill Geist. He doesn't waste time convincing her that that's wrong, he merely explains that it's stupid. Intellect should inform and direct passion; nice one, Aquaman!
- She's trying to enjoy a "normal" Sub Diego life with her friends. But she becomes angry at their passivity, given how much needs to be done for Sub Diego. "Why don't you do something?" she complains. They wisely suggest that she needs to go hang out with her "friend in the orange shirt", which she does, because Aquaman is channeling his frustation into bettering the situation.
- After the "magical life-swapping" perpetrated by the Ocean Master is over, Lorena decides to make the most of it, and keeps the costume she was given. You can view it as a simple plot device to get her in costume or a young girl's interest in pretty clothes (both true), but I think it's a small sign that she's begun to learn the art of turning disaster into triumph, bad into good.
- When she sees a shark preparing to attack someone, she, "super-powerless" though she is, charges right in to help. Stupid? Maybe. Heroic? Definitely. If you saw someone, waterbreather or not, take on a shark to save a stranger, I doubt you would think of her as "bland".
- When the Atlanteans show up, she doesn't sit on her ass (or, um, "float" on it); she decides to check out Atlantis, do some recon. When she meets Koryak, she realizes that two problems -- Aquaman needs help and Koryak is lonely in Atlantis -- can be solved with one solution, reuniting Koryak and Aquaman, and she makes it happen. I like that she's quite a proactive little problem-solver. I never saw Aqualad do anything like that; all he ever did was stand around and *gulp* about how difficult whatever situation was confronting Aquaman and him (yeah, he's definitely your typical passive, fearful Atlantean-type).
Her crushes on Aquaman and Koryak have been cited as criticisms against her. I'm pretty supportive of differences of opinion on many things, but that criticism is just plain old idiotic. Almost any non-lesbian teenage girl in Sub Diego who doesn't have a crush on one or both those guys would need to have her head examined (and be quickly locked away on the underwater prison bus with "Five Kinds of Crazy" Carl and his purple-smelling traffic light).
Ask any woman you know who she thinks is sexiest, Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, or Green Lantern. Guess what the answer will be (even if she doesn't know about the magical water hand)? Even I, grizzled veteran that I am, get all giggly when Aquaman juts his jaw. As for Koryak, well, when I read Aquaman, I've taken to keeping a handfan, a moist kerchief, and a mint julep at the ready, because I need them every time Koryak appears on panel. He affects me as marine heartthrob Aqualad does the girls on the Teen Titans cartoon; my eyes become pulsating heart shapes, a goofy grin stretches from ear to ear, and little manga-lines radiate from my skull as I clasp my hands together in front of my collarbone. Needless to say, I no longer read Aquaman in public places.
Lorena's entire family died, and suddenly, leaving her alone. Aquaman's saved her life already, what, four or five times? Her having a crush on him or his more age-appropriate son is realistic and I appreciate it. Speaking of which, she's drawn with a realism so uncommon nowadays in comics as to be almost shockingly novel. Her breasts aren't the size of her head and she doesn't have a six-pack of steel. Now, I love Power Girl and Hawkgirl, too, but it's nice to have a more realistically proportioned character once in a while!
She's still got plenty to learn. I was disappointed in her recent childish taunting of Dr. Geist, saying that her "champion" Koryak is better than his, Officer Malrey. But that blew up in her face when Geist ignored her and Koryak announced that he really likes "wonderful" Officer Malrey. Lorena "Aquagirl" Marquez still makes those kind of teen-age faux pas, tee hee! I'd love to read her letter to YM Magazine: "So, there I was at the monster-bashing, boasting to Vice-Principal Geist (who killed my parents) about how much better my guy-crush was than the jerk-faced hall monitor--only to find out they were best friends! Was my face red! Lorena M., Sub Diego."
I'm not one of those readers who automaticaly adores female characters or sidekicks. Supergirl's bare midriff and pert manga breasts don't distract me from that fact that she's just as colorless as her Silver Age predecessor; Shaolin Batgirl with Kung Fu Action should come with a warning not to read while operating heavy machinery; Speedy the Prostitute With the Heart of Gold and STD who just happens to have a Natural Gift for Archery (tm) actually gives cliches a bad name.
But Aquagirl I like. She's gutsy, but headstrong; heroic, but not wise; proactive, but naive; responsible like a woman, but petty like a schoolgirl. She seems not like a prop or plot device, but an actual person, stuck in the mess of Sub Diego and doing her best.
And not bland at all.