06 April 2010

AQUAMAN's BRIGHTEST DAY: Truth In Advertising Is The Reason

Aquaman (Vol 2)
In-House Advertisement
DC Comics, 1986
Achieving less than desirable results as team leader of the Detroit-era Justice League of America,  DC Comics tossed Aquaman over the side of the JLA's sinking ship and canceled the series two months later.  He resurfaced a year later, his return to the surface world  of monthly comics heralded by in-house advertisements such as the one above.  Not only was the King of Atlantis coming back (for four brave issues), but he'd had a change of clothes while he was away. The often-maligned orange-gold-green garb was gone, temporarily replaced by a try-out camouflaged costume that never caught on. 
In the second issue of the series, writer Neal Pozner's Aquaman asks, perhaps theoretically, "Where am I, that you don't know of my strength?" It almost sounds as if the character was addressing DC's editorial itself.  Like Batman, whose comic book image suffered as a result of the 1966 television series' camp factor, Aquaman swam with a stigma of uselessness since his animated adventures alongside the Super Friends. But where the Dark Knight overcame, Aquaman sank.

You'd expect that Aquaman aka Orin/Arthur Curry would be a strong swimmer, and the character did survive through four more volumes as well as a successful JLA revival (thanks to Grant Morrison) in 1997.  But the underwater hero perished before the 40th issue of his most recent series, so that a new 'Aquaman' could be introduced.  Fans remain divided on whether it was he or the mid-80's camo that enjoyed the longer shelf-life.  

It's 2010, and the waters have been calm at DC for four years. Across town, Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner, Aquaman's comic book predecessor as well as his Marvel Comics'  counterpart, has been front-and-center at the DC rival  for several years in a row. Where Namor's always had his niche (especially as a nemesis of the Fantastic Four), the character's been elevated to be one Marvel's leading men and top-tier mutants.  While his own series haven't fared much better than Aquaman's, Namor's found super-strength as a reoccurring character across multiple Marvel titles. 
Sub-Mariner Vs Aquaman [via]

It's 2010, and after a very cold four years, DC Comics has resurrected Aquaman through the events and rationale of Geoff Johns' Blackest Night. DC's Dweller of the Depths' light shines again (for our comicsblog's Easter promo as well as) at the forefront of Brightest Day.
Non-zombie Aquaman cops a feel on former widow and Red Lantern, Mera 
Blackest Night #8 (April 2010)

Beyond Brightest Day, DC hasn't made any announcements for their new Aquaman, but we're expecting to see Volume 7  before the year's out. Among the undead, the 'Black Lantern Aquaman' kicked more ass that he ever did while alive. But it's his wife Mera that emerged from Blackest Night as the better Champion of Atlantis.  She's been at his side for six volumes; come the seventh, we think it's he who should stand beside her instead.

We've got a few more thoughts to share on that matter, too. For now, we'll just say that Geoff Johns may be receiving all the credit for the Aquaman revival, but it's the company's marketing department that really deserves the accolades. DC Comics has proven that they are indeed the place Where Legends LiveSure, Where Legends Never Stay Dead... For Long may ring truer, but isn't it really a longer way of saying what's already been said? The grave has never been considered permanent for superheroes, and with smart advertising like that, it clearly never should have been for Aquaman.

Such truth in advertising, however, comes with commitment.  Blackest Night was a lot of work for too many people, just to make good on promises made way back in 1986. At least, that's our opinion.  So we're pleased to see that DC's taken a more ambiguous road plugging Brightest Day. The heroes appeared to be back at the end of Blackest Night #8, and DC's new promo assures us they really are alive; it wasn't a mirage or a nefarious trick. Even better, the heroes are back for a reason.  Also good to know, though Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi, Brightest Day's co-writers, have never been accused of flights of fancy.

The elephant on the comic book coffee table is, of course, whether or not that 'Reason' is one will end up mattering, to us or even to DC's characters.  Sink or swim, whatever happens to Aquaman and his super friends, it will be exactly what DC said we'd get. Nothing less, and nothing more.

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