Aquaman surrenders to his greatest foe: ‘Entourage’

Oct. 20, 2011 | 10:36 a.m.

Aquaman should be riding a big wave this year — this is the 70th anniversary of the deep-sea character and his own title was relaunched in September with superstar writer Geoff Johns at the helm — but I have a sinking feeling that we’re watching the King of the Seven Seas truly become the punch line persona of the DC Universe.

We have an exclusive preview of the second issue  above (and you can find larger versions of the images below) and, just like the first issue, every page drips with humor and all of it is aimed at Aquaman and his considerable character heritage, be it the orange shirt, the power to talk to fish or the second-string super-hero status. Clearly, Aquaman has been defeated by his greatest foe: “Entourage.”

Vintage version of Aquaman, drawn by Neal Adams (DC Comics)

Vintage version of Aquaman, drawn by Neal Adams (DC Comics)

In comics through the decades, the personality of Aquaman has veered widely; for years the hero was cheerful, easygoing and, yes, bland, but then he was reinvented as a fierce, haunted loner who eyes the surface world with disdain. Shifts in tone are not unusual for a character with so much publication history (compare Dick Sprang’s Batman to the one Frank Miller uncorked, for instance) but along with major costume changes it made him elusive enough that many comics fans just shrug when they see him. The fans that do like him, meanwhile, are divided based on which version they consider seaworthy.

Beyond comics, “The Super Friends” and other vintage Saturday morning shows gave the hero his most traction in the public imagination and his status as a seahorse-riding second banana to Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman became the signature impression. That led eventually to the memorable “Entourage” season-long gag about a James Cameron-directed Aquaman movie as well as pointed parodies such as Mermaidman on “SpongeBob SquarePants” and the feckless version of the hero himself as portrayed on “The Family Guy.” The new DC cartoon series “The Brave and the Bold” has even jumped in to the game by presenting a vain, buffoonish (and singing?) version of Aquaman that, really, has nothing to do with any previous portrayal.  A failed live-action version of Aquaman from the makers of “Smallville” didn’t help the overall public perception that Aquaman was the clown fish in superhero circles. 

The one place where Aquaman was taken seriously, though, was in the pages of DC Comics. Until now. The new series has promise, but it’s clear that it will be ironic and self-aware and serve up its protagonist with some tartar sauce on the side. And consider what Johns told Paul Furfari of UGO: “He is the biggest underdog superhero in comics right? Probably in fiction. If you say ‘Who’s the worst superhero?’ most people will probably say Aquaman. … I think he just has a stigma against him, so I wanted him to have to deal with that as much as the writers and artists do.”

The worst superhero? That’s a sad appraisal to start a seventh decade of swimming against the tide of public indifference. There’s one thing this hero can be thankful for: underwater, no one can see you cry. 

PREVIEW:  “Aquaman” No. 2  Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3-4 | Page 5

– Geoff Boucher

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Comments


12 Responses to Aquaman surrenders to his greatest foe: ‘Entourage’

  1. Mary Simmons says:

    Aquaman is the new black guys, get with the "Times", LA Hero Complex!

  2. Joe Slab says:

    AQUAMAN by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis has been both fan & critically acclaimed as one of the best of DC Comics' New 52 offerings. If you think you know Aquaman, think again and check this series out!

    Joe from the Aquaman Shrine.com

  3. NYJ says:

    Dc is it's own punchline these days…witness their company-wide shift to the 90s

  4. ASGR says:

    You clearly didn't get it right. Geoff Johns wants to make Aquaman a badass, but to make him a badass you have to ankowledge the fact that he is the slapstick of superheroes. People DO think Aquaman is the worst super-hero ever.

  5. darren says:

    Perhaps you should actually READ the UGO article, Boucher! You took Johns’ comment completely out of context! Such reliable reporting!

  6. Joe Puma says:

    As an old school 60's and 70's Aquaman fan I think it's a shame that the character might be in danger of all-time joke status,and DC has only itself to blame.The brooding king of the sea persona didn't work for me,that was Prince Namor of Marvel's identity (another hero and company near and dear to my heart)and it was lazy on DC's part to take that already used angle.If Aquaman is indeed "bland" by today's (or any day's) standard, so what?The character still has a myriad of possibilities if portrayed correctly,and I hope the people in charge of it realize that. The fans that used to read those classic stories can still see Aquaman's potential,let's hope DC still does as well.

  7. Exit Jackson says:

    In light of recent events I've sworm of all DC and Marvel Comics and all related movies and media related products, forever…they suck.

  8. Nick Marino says:

    IMO, the bad rap Aquaman has nowadays is based completely off of misconception and a lack of exposure. Personally, I loved the PAD run from the mid-90s, the Veitch run in the early 00s, and the Sub-Diego era in the mid-00s. All really fun, all really bizarre. I'm currently plowing through the 70s stuff (thx to the long over due reprinting) and I'm really enjoying that too. I appreciate the cheekiness of Johns making the new Aquaman series more self-aware… but, the way I see it, the character doesn't need to prove anything to anyone! There are a ton of great Aquaman comics from the past 20 years that people can pick up and dig their teeth into. The character is complex and nuanced, just as much if not more than most other mainstream superheroes.

  9. SoapyJohnson says:

    How bad was the final Entourage episode? … http://placeitonluckydan.com/2011/09/burying-ento

  10. David says:

    What ever happened to the bada** Aquaman that lost his hand and grew a beard?

  11. Phil says:

    I like Aquaman, I like Topo the octopus and Aqualad and Ramona Fradon's art. Too bad there can't be more heroes that kids can relate to, who actually are heroes and are happy with it.
    And I think the Brave and the Bold Aquaman should get his own show.

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