Aquaman is lame. It's the oldest meme in the superhero community, permeating through nearly every nook and cranny of pop culture. Whether its South Park's Super Best Friend "Sea-man" or Vinnie Chase starring as an inexplicably non-blond Aquaman in James Cameron's Aquaman from the Entourage multiverse, Aquaman has been the butt of the joke since Super Friends premiered in 1973. In all honesty, "VUU VUU VUU" is the most dangerous sound in the DC universe, next to "Martha." To escape his lame legacy from Super Friends, Aquaman's overall character arc has been centered around proving how Aquaman isn't lame. With the Aquaman film on the horizon, however, one has to wonder just how lame The King of the Seas actually is. Considering the fact that Aquaman, or rather Aquaboy, has been one of the longest active DC superheroes, even longer than Batman, Aquaman has had ample time to gain some cool points since his debut in 1941's More Fun Comics #73, where Aquaman wasn't even the result of a sailor hooking up with a mermaid. Given Aquaman's long history, any Aquaman is eligible for this listicle, regardless of the incarnation, gender or if they're a former Aqua-person turned horrible fish monster.
Whether its through being surprisingly hardcore, successfully wielding a sweet harpoon and/or water hand, or stretching the definition or what exactly constitutes "commanding sea life," these 30 over the top Aquaman moments sprawling Aquaman's history will have you blissfully proclaiming "Outrageous!" and/or "Neptune's beard! Aquaman is dope." We guarantee it.
In the Justice League: Throne of Atlantis animated film, Black Manta has newcomer hero Aquaman dead to rights. With Aquaman fallen before him, Black Manta goes full blown classic supervillain, explaining that he was secretly behind the entire plot to wage war with the surface world, driving up Throne of Atlantis' rating to a PG-13 by swearing. Aquaman, however, uses his newfound fish-bending powers to summon a megalodon shark, who devours Black Manta mid-monologue.
All Aquaman can say in response to this vicious homage to Deep Blue Sea is "Outrageous!" which is kind of a weird thing to say after taking a man's life. Then again, technically it was the megalodon shark, not Aquaman, who devoured Black Manta, so it's cool.
In the alternate gender-swapped Earth-11 from Dark Nights Batman: The Drowned, Batwoman declares war when she tridents Aquawoman, Queen of Atlantis. After Atlantis drowns Gotham City in retaliation, Bryce Wayne goes from Batwoman to Aquabat-woman when she outfits herself with an Atlantean Trident, some cyberpunk gills and alters her DNA to more closely match Aquawoman's powers.
Now able to regenerate, control water and enlist her fallen foes into the Dead Water armies, The Drowned not only defeats Atlantis, but submerges Earth-11. Impressed with The Batwoman who is an Aquawoman, The Batman Who Laughs recruits The Drowned, who manages to defeat Aquaman and Mera single-handedly.
A hero is only as good as his villains, and when it comes to nemeses, it's hard to beat Black Manta, driven to avenge his father's death. Only after Aquaman is slain will Manta's "life's purpose as Black Manta be complete." Suffering from a speargun-wound, Aquaman hands his trident over to Black Manta, telling his nemesis to just off him in order to cease the perpetuating cycle of patricidal-based vengeance in 2016's Aquaman: Rebirth #2.
Calling out the futility of his nemesis' purpose, Aquaman explains: "What possible way could you end me that would remotely satisfy you? Nothing you can do to me will ever be enough." Unable to bring himself to off his nemesis, Black Manta surrenders, cursing Aquaman.
Aquaman, the former king of Atlantis, must fight the rest of the Justice League on his own in order to prove his worth to his former people in 2013's Justice League #16. What initially was just supposed to be a display of power to Atlantis' interim King Orm soon escalates into an obligatory superhero-on-superhero fight with Aquaman fighting the Justice League single-handedly.
A nonplussed Aquaman charges through Batman's flash grenades, punching Superman so hard that he smashes through the pier. While getting choked out by Wonder Woman's lasso of truth, Aquaman truthfully explains that every single Atlantean soldier will fight to their dying breath if the war with the surface continues.
After Mera breaks out a wrongly imprisoned Aquaman, the two sprint for the sea, non-lethally fighting off the United States military before coming face to face with Superman in 2016's Aquaman #6. Superman tells Aquaman that he cannot leave the surface. Instead, Aquaman delivers a haymaker, clarifying: "I can't leave? I'm a king."
Wailing on The Man of Steel, Aquaman expresses that despite being nearly as powerful as Superman, Aquaman garners none of the same respect: "It's [darn] easier to discredit me! I'm the creepy fish guy nobody trusts! Not even my so-called friends in the Justice League!" Superman stops, if only because he realizes an Atlantean battalion is watching the fight. Aquaman explains: "They're waiting for me to say 'attack.'"
The Grimdark Emperor Aquaman and his half-brother Ocean Master have boarded The Ravager, the pirate ship housing Deathstroke and his misfit crew in Flashpoint: Deathstroke and The Curse of The Ravager. Goring Deathstroke in the heart on a trident, Aquaman gives Ocean Master a single command: "No survivors."
Upset that Deathstroke has crossed into his territory, Aquaman and Orm brutalize all of Deathstroke's meta-human pirate crew, with Aquaman explaining, "I am mad with grief and wish to be left alone" while choking out a guy. Aquaman spares no quarter, even dragging Batman-level supervillain Clayface underwater until his eyes pop out. Outrageous! But no, seriously, it's surprisingly brutal.
For his New 52 incarnation, Aquaman's character was purposefully written to address his legacy of being the butt of every joke. In 2011's Justice League #4 for instance, Darkseid has begun the subjugation of Earth by unleashing a horde of Parademons. Aquaman uses this invasion as an opportunity to introduce himself. Raising his hands, Aquaman summons a frenzy of sharks that explodes up through the pier, submerging a choir of Parademons in a toothy wave of death.
Now technically, one could argue that the sharks are doing all of the work. So, Aquaman tridents a stray Parademon in the face, clarifying that Aquaman doesn't just fall back on his fishy friends or throwing Sharknadoes at all of his problems.
After ordering some fish and chips at his favorite restaurant – What? Aquaman doesn't talk to fish: "Fish don't talk. Their brains are too primitive to carry on a conversation." So, it's cool. – Aquaman provides an impromptu invasive interview for a chin-strap bearded blogger in 2011's Aquaman #1.
After being asked "So how's it feel to be a punchline? How's it feel to be a laughingstock? How's it feel to be nobody's favorite super-hero?" an annoyed Aquaman leaves, paying for the meal he hasn't even received. Aquaman's waitress asks him exactly what she is supposed to with the two doubloons he left behind. Aquaman tells her to "put her kids through college" with them.
During Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, the aforementioned aquatic kingdom declares war with the surface, intending to conquer. As an opening salvo, the Atlanteans, led by Ocean Master, manufacture colossal tidal waves that hit Boston, Metropolis and Gotham City. In phase two, Atlantean shock troops establish a beachhead in the city affected the most by the giant wave, which in this instance is Boston.
Atlantis was able to attack the surface world so effectively because Aquaman originally co-wrote the Atlantean war plans with his brother Orm, The Ocean Master. The only reason why Aquaman is able to assemble the Justice League to save part of Gotham at all is because Orm followed the invasion plans so precisely, enabling Aquaman to predict Orm's tactics.
Aquaman and his brother Orm, also known as Ocean Master, try to determine who is Atlantis' proper ruler via trial by combat in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis. During the fight, Aquaman punches Ocean Master so hard in the face that his ocean-controlling helmet breaks in two, and this was while Aquaman still had both hands. Taking the Trident of Atlantis, Aquaman makes the invading armies of Atlantis stand down, as well as the traitorous Venko surrender with four words: "I am your king."
Dovetailing the rest of the plotlines, Aquaman then uses Orm's trident to command the rampaging horde of Dead Waters, which are fundamentally zombie fish men, to just, like, go home. Problem solved.
So yeah, apparently just telling a rampaging horde of zombie fish men to basically go home is more of a temporary solution, if anything. The Dead Waters aren't really zombies, but more like underwater Xenomorphs operating on a Hive Queen-based social structure, as we discover when when the Dead Waters drag Aquaman to their Hive Queen in a trench at the bottom of the sea in 2011's Aquaman #2.
Out of options, Aquaman makes a long shot throw with his trident into a volcanic vent. The throw triggers an eruption that vaporizes the Dead Water Queen and collapses the trench, sealing the Dead Water inside. To recap: Aquaman basically one-shot-killed an entire species.
Is Aquaman strong enough of an Aquaman to defeat Aquaman? We learn the answer when the newly resurrected hook hand Aquaman fights the original orange shirt Aquaman in 1994's Aquaman #47. There can be only one Aquaman, so each man of aqua pulls no hook-hand punches, with the exception of Aquaman throwing bearded Aquaman around by his own hook cord – the superhero equivalent of "stop hitting yourself."
After Bearded Aquaman beats him, OG Aquaman reveals that he's actually an alternate universe Aquaman who had used a youth spell. As the spell wears off, OG Aquaman grows a beard, giving us two Bearded Aquamen. Frankly, that's way too many Bearded Aquamans in one comic for us to handle.
For his portrayal of Aquaman in 2017's Justice League, Jason Mamoa tried to make Aquaman as cool as possible. After vanquishing some Parademons attacking the Batmobile, Aquaman demonstrates how his powers work outside of water.
In our favorite non-Superman fight sequence of the film, Aquaman uses his propulsion powers to soar through the air. An airborne Aquaman bullseyes a middair Parademon with his weapon, which is not a trident: "I didn't call it a trident. It's a quindent. We don't call it that in the movie and when you watch Aquaman you're going to see him go for the trident." Aquaman retrieves his not-trident, riding the Parademon down a building like a boogie-board before strolling away. Mission accomplished, Momoa.
For the Justice League animated series, Aquaman was passed over as founding member, due large in part to the "Aquaman is lame" legacy from the Super Friends. Instead, Aquaman was a recurring character, eventually fighting former Super Friends in "Ultimatum" from Justice League Unlimited.
Aquaman takes on The Wonder Twins Downpour and Shifter, who can change into any body of water or animal, respectively. After wrestling with a T-Rex Shifter while submerged in Downpour, Aquaman knocks out the morphling thunder lizard. Enraged, Downpour tries to drown Aquaman with a water blast. Aquaman raises an eyebrow: "King of the seas, remember?" Downpour ineffectively punches Aquaman before being backhanded with a non-hook hand, ending the fight.
Piloting a blue whale into Triton, God of The Seas, Aquaman falls to Triton's dragon in 1998's Aquaman #45-46. After beating The King of The Seas with the sea, Triton swears to keep Aquaman alive and suffering. Aquaman, on the other hand, claims that Triton "wouldn't dare kill me." Triton corrects Aquaman, impaling him. Fortunately, Aquaman dies.
Waking in Tarturus, Aquaman boat-jacks Charon, recruiting the souls of the departed to storm the gates of Hades. Aquaman proceeds to sever one of Cerberus' heads, using it to smash through the gates. Inside, Aquaman convinces Lord Hades free him and Poseidon, Triton's dad, in order to fight Triton. Leaving, Aquaman tells Cerberus to stay: "It is his final order in Hades... and it is obeyed."
More Fun Comics #85 hits the ground running, opening up with a glorious hyper-color teaser page of Aquaman hurling a polar bear at poachers. There's no usage of Aquaman's telepathy, nor claims that polar bears technically count as sea creatures because they spend ample time underwater – just Aquaman throwing a very confused ursine as hard as he possibly can at a mob of heavily armed poachers.
This one page is just a teaser image, however, as we discover that the polar bear first tried to ambush Aquaman, only to be beaten with underwater jiu jitsu. Not one to waste a once in a lifetime opportunity, Aquaman performs a fast-bear special, punctuated with a solid one-liner: "I can't bear to look at this!"
Aquaman encounters King Shark, the one villain he can't throw a shark at, in Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #46-47. After King Shark shark-manhandles an anthropomorphic anemone courtesan, Aquaman grapples with King Shark, mistaking the drunken shark monarch's swimming speed for "tool-mongery." Aquaman wins round one by punching using a bear trap on King Shark, which is a bizarre thing to keep in an undersea toolshed.
For round two, King Shark gets the drop on Aquaman in a reef, drawing first blood. Though blinded, King Shark hunts Aquaman through the reef, following Aquaman's blood trail. Hiding Aquaman, the reef emits a high-frequency "reef song," pausing King Shark long enough for Aquaman to knock Shark unconscious with a single blow.
Who is mightier: Namor The Submariner or Aquaman, The Guy Who Talks To Fish? Trick question: Aquaman doesn't talk to fish. Fish don't have brains large enough for speech. No, Aquaman commands fish, or rather marine life, as Namor discovers in DC vs. Marvel #2.
The OG Invader squares off against "the blond buffoon," who entangles Namor in a purportedly unbreakable harpoon cord. Declaring Namor "too noble to cheat," Aquaman convinces a conveniently placed killer whale to just sort of flop on top of Namor. Aquaman is declared the victor, but how does "using the one power the other fish guy doesn't have" constitute cheating, exactly? Is it because the killer whale is technically the one pinning down Namor?
The former king of Atlantis has been banished to die of dehydration in 2003's Aquaman #1. With Atlantean soldiers patrolling the coastline and his aquatic telepathy disabled, Aquaman searches inland, desperate for water and slowly bleeding out.
Collapsing mere inches away from a river, a dying Aquaman casts his broken hook-hand into the water in delirious frustration. Having unwittingly surrendered his last defense to the sacred water, Aquaman summons The Lady of The Lake. The Lady rejuvenates Aquaman in the waters of truth, blessing Aquaman as her new water-bearer. In addition to a dope water hand, Aquaman briefly gained some magical abilities as the Lady's champion, like restarting a sailor's heart in Aquaman #2.
Depending on who is writing Aquaman, Aquaman's ability to command "sea life" can be nebulous. Take DC Comics Presents #48, where Aquaman smashes through S.T.A.R. Labs to ask Superman for some help fighting telepathic alien octopi. During the fight, the octopi hit Superman with a neural shock, rendering him unconscious.
Lacking the strength to fight the psionic cephalopods, Aquaman comes up with a solution: "The brains of humans retain anatomical vestiges of their evolutionary ancestors, including the earliest sea-dwellers! If the Kryptonians' evolution worked similarly... I can control Superman's body through that atavistic 'fish' brain!" Evidently, Kryptonian brains count as sea life, as Aquaman is able to successfully warg into a fully-functional Superman, heat vision and all.
Resurrected by a Black Lantern Ring, Arthur Curry returns as a zombified Aquaman in Blackest Night. Since every member of the Black Lantern Corps retains their powers, Aquaman is still able to command sea life, but with a twist. To combat a squadron of Atlanteans, Aquaman summons a frenzy of zombie sharks to devour them.
Curiously, when Aquaman is resurrected properly, his powers remain wonky in Brightest Day. When fighting a crew of kidnapper pirates, Aquaman calls upon sea life for help, raising a horrid zombie giant squid and rotting shark who viciously tear apart the pirates, against Aquaman's wishes. Testing out his powers, Aquaman awakens an undead killer whale, which Arthur has to rip apart with his non-hook hands.
Some archaeology nerds accidentally open up a gate to Hell in 2014's Aquaman #29. Getting wrecked by a demonic Hercules, Aquaman calls upon his signature move – throwing a fish-monster at his problems – by influencing an aquatic demon to chomp on Herc's head. This assist doesn't work, as Hercules slams down Aquaman with a Sorbo worthy "Betrayed!"
As Hercules whoops him towards the coast, Aquaman begs the crazed Herc not to drown him. With Hercules holding him underwater, Aquaman informs Herc that "That's right, I can talk through water." Rejuvenated, Aquaman drags Hercules underwater by the fists. Calling upon some giant squid to keep Hercules down, Aquaman pauses to ask the important questions: "Can a God drown? Demigod? Whatever. I'm taking no chances."
In 1994's Aquaman #2 or "Single Wet Female" (seriously) Charybdis has taken Aquaman and his lover Dolphin, who is not a dolphin, hostage. Charybdis keeps the power-couple at bay with his power-stealing abilities, getting frustrated when he can't command a school of piranha to his will. Aquaman clarifies that he doesn't control, so much as cajole sea life, noting that piranha in particular are "vicious, mean-spirited, and only give a damn about skeletonizing anything that moves!"
Aquaman would regret this moment of piranha discrimination when Charybdis holds Aquaman's hand into a piranha-filled stream for four panels worth of comic book time, reducing it to just bones. In retaliation Aquaman bicycle-kicks Charybdis into the stream, instantly turning it red.
During Justice League: A Midsummer's Nightmare, the Justice League has had their memories altered, forgetting that they were superheroes. Also, Clark Kent has a ponytail. The tale's antagonist is Know Man, who crushes the JLA with his gravity defying powers, taunting "The pressure you have put upon me is enormous. Allow me to return the favor."
Aquaman, however, knows something about pressure: "Presh–sher? Obviously...you've never been – to the bottom of the sea!" Aquaman then reaches up with his hook-hand to snag Know Man's ridiculous cape, pulling him down to break the gravity well. Freed, Superman charges Know Man, only to be effortlessly thrown into space. Surely, Know Man could've just done this to the entire League, but whatever.
The Crime Syndicate, an alternate form of the Justice League from Earth-2 – a world so evil that they have Benedict Arnold on the one dollar bill – has invaded Earth-1 (the good Earth) in JLA: Earth 2. With the majority of the Justice League still on Earth-2, Aquaman faces off against The Crime Syndicate's Power Ring, the evil-reflection of The Green Lantern who starts the fight by calling Aquaman "grandad."
Aquaman interrupts Power Ring by first harpooning Power Ring's ring-bearing forearm, reeling him in for a clotheslined right hook that knocks him out cold. Despite wielding a space-ring capable of constructing anything he could imagine, Power Ring failed to recognize the objective dopeness of a harpoon-hand.
In Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, Barry Allen messes up the world by going back in time to save his mom. In a last ditch effort to end the war between Atlanteans and Amazons, the United States Military have tasked Hal Jordan with a suicide mission: piloting an alien spaceship carrying an experimental payload into the Atlantean Capital Ship in order to destroy Atlantis' War Council. Channeling the ending of Independence Day, Hal Jordan recites Abin Sur's last words as he prepares for the end: "Beware my power..."
Suddenly, a sea monster rises up from the depths to swallow the kamikaze Hal Jordan whole before exploding in a brilliant burst of light. Aquaman removes his hands from his temples to continue the Atlantean invasion.
How do you kill that which cannot die? Aquaman answers this riddle when he encounters Deathblow, the mercenary with the ability to not die in Convergence Aquaman #2. First, a desperate Aquaman fires his hook hand into Deathblow's jugular. Then Aquaman controls Deathblow's blood cells to subdue him, or at least that's what we think what happens.
See, after Aquaman slits Deathblow neck, the comic smash cuts to two scientists explaining how the fight ended. Apparently, "blood is the chemical equivalent of seawater," so Aquaman was able to like, command the blood cells to temporarily kill Deathblow? Seriously, Aquaman has never once utilized "blood-bending" powers before, so just imagine that there's a shrugging emoji here.
In 2011's Justice League #6, Aquaman stabs Darkseid in the heart with a trident. Granted, all of the other leaguers were dog-piling the God of Apokolips at the time. Yes, Darkseid was otherwise nonplussed by getting stabbed. On the other hand, how many times have you seen Superman stab and/or heat vision Darkseid in the heart? Zero times.
Alternatively, Batman did shoot Darkseid in the heart with a space-gun during Final Crisis. This makes Aquaman and Batman tied for the top spot in Heart of Darkness: Superheroes Who Have Jacked Up Darkseid's Heart – a CBR listicle that doesn't exist because it would only consist of two entries: Batman and Aquaman.
After revealing that he's African-American – "Or have you never wondered why I'm called Black Manta?" – Black Manta explains that he has recruited "his people" to help him conquer the sea, because there's no racism underwater (no, really) in Adventure Comics #452. From atop a robo-dolphin, Black Manta unveils a top-tier revenge scheme to Aquaman that's basically "I've kidnapped Aquababy. Fight Aqualad to the death or your son dies in five minutes." Wow. That is so messed up, Manta.
What's really messed up though is that Black Manta's plan actually works! Aquaman instantly tries to kill Aqualad, but doesn't do it quickly enough. Essentially, this was Aquaman's first "dark and gritty" moment. Even Black Manta's henchmen thought it was a bit much.
At the bottom of the sea there exists a city of impossible dimensions, overpopulated by an army of the drowned, lorded over by an extra-dimensional horror that annually invades our world. To recap: in 2010's The Brave and The Bold #32, Aquman teams up with Etrigan to fight Cthulhu.
To overrun the undead army, Aquaman summons a living "Sea-quake," a pooling of every aquatic life-form available to not-R'lyeh. Impressed, the monstrosity offers Aquaman "the world above" if they join forces. Unimpressed, Aquaman replies: "The sea covers seventy percent of the earth's surface... the land, only thirty percent. Why would I ever wish to settle for less?" With that, Etrigan singes the elder god back into its dimension. No biggie.