Kicking off the countdown, and coming in at #10, is DC’s resident champion of the sea, Aquaman. It was Superfriends, and later, Super Powers where I first encountered the “King of the Seven Seas” and I’ve been a big fan ever since. Like so many heroes in the Silver-Age (the version that quickly became my favorite) Aquaman bravely stood for good in the face of evil, but did so as a unique denizen of the sea, which separated him from the rest of his super powered brethren. In the Silver-Age Arthur Curry was the son of seaman Tom Curry and a mysterious Atlantean queen, named Atlanna, and as such had a heritage that afforded him the ability to live & breath underwater, enhanced strength, senses and durability, blinding speed and, among other things, the ability to communicate with and command sea life (his origins would be altered a bit in the modern age, particularly his name & parentage, but for the most part this basic origin has remained the same).
As a character, Aquaman represented an honor and nobility that I could not only appreciate but that I could learn a great deal from, and I always had the sense that Aquaman would do anything and everything to stand up for what was right, that he was quided by one of the strongest senses of morality to uphold justice. On land or sea (per mare per terras). I can also point to Adventure Comics #478 for some of my fandom as it was one of the first comics I ever received and I would marvel at that fantastic cover and story time and time again (still do). It kicked off my Aquaman collection and I’ve had a great time adventuring into the deep ever since. Years later I’d have the misfortune of finding out that Aquaman was held in some disdain among select fans and creators for being a ‘lame character’ but it’s a sentiment that I don’t understand (or wish to) in the least. Having grown up enjoying the character presented by the likes of Frandon, Swan, Giordano, Buckler, Perez and Jim Aparo and I think the work of these folks is certainly a stark contrast to some of the lambasts out there. It’s the classic Silver & Bronze-Age character that continues to resonate with me and I have to admit that I haven’t been able to get into any of the more modern interpretations of the character, be it Peter David’s or some of the even more recent attempts. But here’s hoping that one of these days Aquaman will indeed get the same kind of high profile treatment that Hal Jordan and Barry Allen are receiving, and that it’ll be deeply rooted in the characters rich history.
And for those who haven’t read it, please check out the 12-issue series Justice by Jim Kruegar, Alex Ross & Doug Braitwaite for some great Aquaman material. His confrontation with Black Manta is one of the coolest moments I’ve read in recent memory, period, and if it doesn’t leave a positive impression of the character for you, it’s likely nothing will.