The King of the Seven Seas, Arthur Curry, Aquaman, is a monarch, superhero, and most of all, misunderstood. Half-human and half-Atlantean, Arthur is a man torn between two worlds. On the one hand, he’s duty-bound to serve as the king of Atlantis despite many of his own people hating the half-breed hero as their king. On the other end of the spectrum Arthur is a superhero on the surface world who’s just trying to get by on a day-by-day basis. It isn’t easy being Aquaman, whether at sea or on land, and despite boasting a wide range of impressive powers, there are those who ridicule Aquaman, believing he can do little more than talk to fish.
In fact, the King of Atlantis is plenty powerful, able to stand up to some of DC’s biggest heroes and supervillains. Yet for all his strength, it’s not uncommon for him to encounter foes equally strong and menacing. Aquaman doesn’t play around with his enemies, and neither they with him. Lost limbs, lacerations, and broken bones are not infrequent in an Aquaman fight. Here at CBR we’re taking a look at 15 of Aquaman’s bloodiest and most brutal fights, proving the sea-faring superhero is not to be trifled with.
15 AQUAMAN VS. AQUALAD
We know you like reading about blood and guts, but you also have to remember there was a time in comics where it was unacceptable to see Aquaman run his trident through somebody’s heart. Still, lack of blood doesn’t make a fight any less brutal, as seen on the classic battle between Aquaman and his protégé Aqualand in Adventure Comics #452.
In the issue, Black Manta has captured Aqualad, Aquaman, and his son Aquababy. Threatening to kill Arthur’s child if Aqualad and Aquaman don’t fight to the death. Aquaman, fighting for the sake of his son, is willing to kill his long-time friend and attacks viciously, cutting Aqualad’s arm with a trident. Despite eventually finding a way out of the mess, Arthur Jr. still dies and Aqualad, feeling betrayed, decides he wants nothing more to do with Aquaman.
14 AQUAMAN VS. BLACK MANTA AND SIREN
Black Manta, one of Aquaman’s longest-lasting enemies, hates the oceanic hero with an unholy passion. When they were both younger, Aquaman accidentally killed Manta’s father in a case of mistaken identity. Since then, the villain has sworn vengeance. In Brightest Day #19 Aquaman and the new Aqualad arrive at a chaotic scene at a beach where the villainess Siren and her henchmen are attacking every civilian they can find.
While Aqualad deals with the lesser bad guys, Aquaman prepares to attack Sire, but is rudely interrupted when Black Manta appears out of nowhere and cuts off his hand. Despite the gruesome injury, Aquaman continues fighting, until eventually he, Aqualand, and Mera (who arrived a little late) are able to push the evildoers back into the water.
13 AQUAMAN VS. MERA
In the 3rd issue of the Aquaman mini-series written by Keith Giffen, Arthur is pulled into battle against his wife, Mera. When mutant jellyfish attack Atlantis, Aquaman and fellow Atlanteans launch a strategic counterattack. However, Mera, still reeling from the death of Arthur Jr., is mentally unstable, fighting anyone she sees.
Aquaman defends her from the Atlantean guards, but she quickly turns her sights on him. Attacking him, Arthur flees, hoping to talk sense into Mera. The former Queen of Dimension Aqua (or Xebel) is ruthless as she tries to murder Aquaman. After blasting Aquaman through a wall, the King of Atlantis reluctantly defends himself. Still barely able to keep up with Mera and her brutal blitz, Aquaman flips her over; she’s accidentally impaled by a piece of metal and “killed”. While not overly graphic, it was a shock, as the sound effect “CHUK” haunted the minds of readers.
12 AQUAMAN VS. SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS
Charybdis and his wife Scylla created an elaborate plan to kill Aquaman and his cohorts. Upon capturing Aquaman, he used his own metahuman powers to render Aquaman’s famous fish-talking powers useless. With the help of Aqualad, Aquaman and Dolphin are able to escape. Aquaman #2 played a pivotal role in Aquaman canon, as when Arthur faces Charybdis, the ensuing fight is brutal and bloody.
As the two struggle on the ground, Charybdis thrusts Aquaman’s left hand into a small pool of man-eating piranhas. The effect is immediate, without this telepathy, the fish devour his hand; Aquaman screams in agony. Still, Aquaman fights back, Dolphin arrives to shoot Charybdis in the chest, and Arthur takes Charybdis’s moment of hesitation to knock him into the piranha pool.
11 AQUAMAN VS. SHARKS
In the 12-issue series Justice, Lex Luthor and a cabal of villains have seen a prophecy stating the world will end on account of the superheroes failing to prevent a nuclear Armageddon. To that end, they start capturing and mortally wounding their age-old adversaries so they can save the world. When it’s time to take care of Aquaman, his longtime foe Black Manta is sent to capture him.
Black Manta’s thugs, along with a group of sharks, attack the King of Atlantis. Aquaman puts up a valiant fight, but eventually ends up getting overpowered, the sharks inflicting too many bites on the hero for him to stay conscious. With Aquaman beaten, Black Manta and Lex Luthor shepherds him to an alien city under the sea within a black sphere that is under the care of Brainiac. It also wouldn’t be the last time Aquaman had bloody fights with sharks.
10 AQUAMAN VS. TIAMAT
Coming from a race of dragon-like shapeshifters known as Anunnakes, and would enslave whole worlds, Tiamat originally faced Aquaman during the event "War of The Gods". After Aquaman beat her with the help of Power Girl, Tiamat would later appear several years down the road in issue #15 of Peter David’s Aquaman. When Aquaman journeys through a portal with his ally Dolphin, they end up underneath the city of Poseidonis. There, they run into Tiamat.
Attacking Aquaman almost immediately, Arthur and Dolphin battle the giant sea dragon. Aquaman, unable to give quarter, unleashes his deadly hook hand, stabbing and cutting at Tiamat again and again, drawing small fountains of blood in the process. At one point Tiamant swallows Aquaman whole, but Aquaman releases his harpoon right through the creature’s mouth, and eventually, she is defeated.
9 AQUAMAN VS. SHAGGY MAN
The Shaggy Man is a synthetic monster created by Professor Andrew Zagarian. A nearly unstoppable being, it usually requires the entire Justice League to take him down. Virtually immortal, the Shaggy Man has rarely experienced defeat in hand-to-hand confrontations. So when Aquaman faced the synthetic creature by himself in Dan Abnett’s Aquaman, things don’t go terribly well for the hero.
After Atlantis unleashes their full arsenal to little effect on the monster, Aquaman, realizing Shaggy Man is headed to his hometown Amnesty Bay, takes on the creature. Yet for all of Aquaman’s incredible power, the Shaggy Man ruthlessly pummels him. In one final gambit, the battered Aquaman puts his Justice League card on the monster and has the JL Satellite beam the Shaggy Man into space, leaving an unconscious and wounded Aquaman victorious.
8 AQUAMAN VS. CERBERUS
Aquaman #46 pitted the mighty sea king against a variety of foes, chief among them Triton and the three-headed dog Cerberus. Triton, like most villains, hates Aquaman, jealous of his title the “King of the Seven Seas.” Triton sends Aquaman to Hades in the afterlife, but Aquaman allowed for this to happen so he could save the god Poseideon. Along the way, Aquaman punches Death himself in the face before storming the literal gates of hell.
When the superhero arrives, the fearsome and incredibly large Cerberus meets him. The three-headed dog is as monstrous as they come, but that doesn’t stop Aquaman from doing battle with the creature. Aquaman harpoons one of the dog’s heads, then pulls it in and yanks off completely. With that finished, Aquaman literally punches the gigantic head through the gates of Hades.
7 AQUAMAN AND WONDER WOMAN VS. GORGOMAIDS
Wonder Woman #162 by Ben Rabb featured a two-part team-up issue between Wonder Woman and Aquaman. As the issue begins Wonder Woman learns that a boat, carrying a troop of Wonder Scouts, ages 8-18, was attacked en route on their way to a field trip on Themyscira. None of them survived the attack. Wonder Woman goes to confront Aquaman on the matter, thinking he might have some knowledge of the affair. Aquaman convinces her otherwise and agrees to help her hunt down the monster behind the incident.
After investigating the scene, Aquaman believes Black Manta is responsible. Both heroes leap into the water to hunt him down but are met by a group of Gorgomaids. The struggle between the sea creatures the superheroes is short and bloody; Aquaman harpoons them in the chest, while Wonder Woman cuts them apart with her sword.
6 ZOMBIE AQUAMAN VS. MERA AND GARTH
In the DC event known as "Blackest Night", the Green Lantern villain Nekron, the living embodiment of death, resurrects a bunch of old heroes and bad guys who died in years past. Turning them into superpowered zombies, all of Earth’s heroes are pulled into the affair. One of the zombies is none other than Aquaman himself, who now comes with the ability to summon undead sharks and other nightmarish sea monsters.
When Black Lantern Aquaman appears to Mera, Garth (the former Aqualad), and some Atlantean guards. Summoning a horde of zombie sharks, Aquaman ruthlessly kills the guards, taking the fight to Mera next, while Garth is killed by Black Lantern Tula and Dolphin. It’s a gruesome battle and Mera is eventually forced to flee, unable to fight the evil forces on her own.
5 AQUAMAN VS. DEAD WATER
Dead Water, the serpentine creature who can teleport through any body of water, no matter how small, came to be when diver Jonah Payne got exposed to alien water. The water had a symbiote-like quality and would take over Payne completely, transforming him, going on a killing spree against everyone Payne had ever felt slighted by. Aquaman finds himself consistently struggling against Dead Water, their battles are long, bloody, and pitched, until Aquaman is able to kill the creature.
Unfortunately Dead Water came back when the alien liquid came in contact with others and the madhouse started all over again. Only this time there were multiple Dead Waters to contend with. Discovering the source of the alien water, Aquaman takes a nuke and shoves it into the extraterrestrial portal, destroying it and canceling out all links to other Dead Waters, turning them human again.
4 AQUAMAN VS. THANATOS AND A T-REX
An evil doppelganger of Aquaman from the alternate dimension Netherspace, Thanatos thought long and hard on how to kill Aquaman. After transferring visions into Mera’s head, nearly driving her insane, he successfully traps her, Aquaman, and Dolphin. Thanatos puts Aquaman into a guillotine, after they time travel to 19th century France.
Aquaman escapes and is about to kill Thantos when they get sent to prehistoric times. Thantos has Mera tied up and is riding a T-Rex when Aquaman finds him. Stabbing the Tyrannosaurs repeatedly with his hook in grisly fashion, once in the blamed eye for good measure, he and his enemy are then sent to Ancient Rome and engage in a ferocious gladiatorial fight. Blood is shed, and Aquaman comes out on top. At the battle’s finish, he refuses to kill Thanatos, despite the roar of the crowd, allowing the villain to escape to plague the hero another day.
3 AQUAMAN VS. DARKSEID AND PARADEMONS
In the first arc of the New 52’s Justice League, Darkseid and his army of Parademons have attacked the planet. Still relatively green, the heroes that would later make the Justice League come together in an effort to save their world. Amidst a massive Parademon attack, Aquaman arrives and unleashes an equally large battalion of giant sharks to jump into the sky and tear the creatures to pieces.
Earning the respect of his peers on the spot, Green Lantern especially, the fight is still not done as they must do battle with the dreaded New God Darkseid. Hitting the tyrannical cosmic being with everything they have, Aquaman rushes the evil New God and plunges his trident right into one of Darkseid’s eyes, temporarily blinding the awesome deity.
2 AQUAMAN VS. THE TRENCH
The Trench is a race of cannibalistic subterranean sea-dwelling fish monsters that spread like a plague. Intelligent and calculating in their actions, they are driven by their need to feed on other sentient living organisms. The Trench is unlike anything Aquaman has faced before, so when he and Mera meet the fearsome creatures, all hell breaks loose.
Over the course of several issues from Geoff Johns’ New 52 run on Aquaman, Arthur is completely taken aback by the Trench and their unforgiving viciousness. They fight multiple times, and each time is bloodier than the last. Teeth, claws, punches, tridents, and water projectiles (courtesy of Mera), are flung all over the place. The Trench rip into Aquaman and he lashes out in kind. Later, Aquaman hunts the Trench down to the trench they’re hidden in, ignites an underwater volcanic eruption and buries the creatures… for a time.
1 AQUAMAN VS. BLACK MANTA
Black Manta and Aquaman are constantly at odds with one another. They’ve had numerous fights and nearly all of them have been bloody; they attack each other with animalistic fury. In Aquaman #15 by Dan Abnett, Aquaman and Black Manta fight in the heart of a submarine, where Aquaman lances Manta through the shoulder with his trident before beating him senseless.
In Geoff Johns’ Aquaman #13, Aquaman has been on the losing side of fighting Black Manta for multiple issues. Finally, the two warriors come to a head in dramatic fashion. Manta stabs, shoots, and bludgeons Aquaman, while Aquaman stabs Manta with his trident, beats his head like a drum, and breaks his arm. And that’s only two of their battles. Their encounters only get more brutal as the years go by and chances are we’ll only see more bloody Aquaman vs. Black Manta fights in the near future.
Are there any other bloody Aquaman fights that we missed? Let us know in the comments!