The promotional text for Aquaman: King of Atlantis says:
“It’s the undersea adventure of a lifetime! The fate of Aquaman’s people, his home, and the entire world is in the hands (trident?) of the new king of Atlantis. With monstrous creatures, devious foes, and epic battles, get ready for this super-powered special event.”
The Answer-Man says: It’s not for you. Stop complaining.
Personally, I welcome the new king. He’s been a superhero forever and this will be his first appearance in his own animated series since the Filmation series that ran from 1967 to 1970, and his first appearance in animated TV since the version of him that appeared in Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
Aquaman (Arthur Curry) is a superhero created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger, in More Fun Comics #73 (Nov. 1941). Yes, Aquaman is older than most of your grandparents. He was a backup character in the Golden Age of comics, throwing polar bears at criminals and the like before getting an upgrade in the Silver Age to Justice League star status.
Then there was that low period with the Superfriends. We don’t talk about that time. In modern depictions he gets stories based on his struggles to remain king of Atlantis, fighting magical menaces and near-divine legacies and dealing with being the king of 75% of the world’s real estate.
This new animated series appears to be a kiddie-focused version of the King of the Seven Seas, complete with action sound effects, silly physical humor and the slack-jawed stares of the various species of non-human Atlanteans looking on in horror, or disgust, or maybe even apathy, it’s hard to be sure.
Yes, you have seen this art style before with a previous property called Thundercats: Roar. I don’t remember what happened to that series, but I watched about ten minutes and decided the humor was not meant for me. And that was okay.
With Aquaman coming to HBO Max in October, I have to wonder if they were trying to reach a more adult audience or is HBO trying to get a piece of that sweet, sweet superhero zeitgeist before all the flavor is gone.
This Aquaman trailer shows us Aquaman, Arthur Curry, being introduced to an apathetic Atlantean populace with Queen Mera and what appears to be one of the various Aqualads (probably Garth) at a coronation. We also get to see an angry Oceanmaster making a dynamic appearance.
Is this a strange fit for the Sea King, a humorous take on a character who has struggled for relevance for decades after his appearances in Superfriends, all those years ago? I think so. Aquaman has appeared in the Brave and the Bold, Batman series and his bombastic heroics were both real and in their way, quite funny, making me think, a talented writing team could make a limited series about the misadventures of Aquaman and not make it just a bunch of “talking to fish” jokes.
Since we are getting the Aquaman from the DCEU, he will properly conflicted but surely not shown trying to get drunk, hanging out with maidens on frosty shorelines and hiding from Batman’s recruiting efforts. Okay, that last one might still be true.
Can this be funny? Yes. Will it be. We’ll find out in October on HBO Max. In the meantime, watch the trailer and decide if Aquaman is right for you.
Aquaman: King of Atlantis stars the voices of Cooper Andrews as Aquaman, Thomas Lennon as Vulko, Gillian Jacobs as Mera, and Dana Snyder as Ocean Master, and makes its debut on October 14.
Thaddeus Howze is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and activist creating speculative fiction, scientific, political and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.