For decades, Arthur Curry a.k.a. Aquaman, has never truly received the respect or credit he is due as a character within the DC Universe. This is mainly because of his infamous Super Friends appearance back in the 1970s, and since then nothing but mockery has followed the King of Atlantis. However, I am one of the few who still truly value Aquaman as a character in the comics, even though he is often relegated to being considered a second-tier character in the Justice League.
I am the only person who gets the monthly Rebirth: Aquaman at my local comic shop, which means I have been able to start the series from the very beginning and see how truly well developed Arthur is as a character, and what truly makes the Aquaman the heart and soul of the Justice League.
Everyone Knows Who He Actually Is
Arthur has never hidden his identity. To everyone before and even after he became Aquaman, he was always Arthur Curry, son of Tom Curry, the lighthouse keeper of Amnesty Bay. He does not have a secret identity, as much as the ruling elite of Atlantis wish he did. When not in Atlantis, he still lives in his father's small home below the lighthouse, and is always out and about in his hometown when not out on League or Atlantis business.
Even the League calls him by his first name, rarely addressing him as Aquaman (unless you're Batman, who could care less about who you actually are), making him on first-name basis with most of the League. Even in his home town, his teachers, friends and family all know him as Artie or Arthur, not as Aquaman.
He Always Helps His Hometown
Born and raised in the small town of Amnesty Bay, Massachusetts, Arthur knew everyone in town, and even after his transformation into Aquaman, he refused to leave the little harbor town in the dust.
During the New 52 run of #Aquaman, the Trench, a strange race of cannibalistic fish-men from deep within the Atlantic Trench, attack Amnesty Bay, killing many of the residents, but not before Aquaman arrives and deals some damage bac. Arthur not only helped save as many people as he could within the town, but set to work to help rebuild Amnesty Bay after the attack, with his wife Mera working alongside him.
In the Rebirth series, Amnesty Bay becomes home to an Atlantean embassy, and is soon attacked by Black Manta and the forces of N.E.M.O., an Atlantean splinter group. After the battle, Arthur again steps up to help repair his hometown, this time enlisting the aid of the Atlantean military and engineering class. Often, he is at odds with the Atlantean nobility for his "dotage" upon his surface home, but Arthur never leaves Amnesty Bay in the path of danger without having something to say about it.
He's Married, With A Dog
Arthur Curry is just like most people, when you remove his Aquaman title. Married to Mera, an Atlantean noblewoman from an alternate universe, the two eventually (depending on which run you look at) have a son, Garth, who would later become Aqualad. Plus, they also have a Golden Retriever named Salty. A Golden Retriever, one of the goofiest dog breeds on the face of the planet. Sure, Batman may have Ace, the Doberman Batdog, and Supes has Kyrpto, the Superdog, but Salty, even though he has no powers, represents Arthur's inner warmth: happy-go-lucky, loving and a strong heart.
He Doesn't Pretend To Be Something He Isn't
Arthur is far more humble than others in the ranks of the Justice League. Superman pretends he is a man when he essentially is a god, Diana literally is a god, and Batman is a man who thinks he is a god. However, while Arthur is half-Atlantean, ruler of Atlantis, and master of over 75 percent of the world's surface, rarely does Arthur act as a king or emperor of the seas. He knows that he has the power, but he stands as a man, as a husband, and as a father first and foremost, often bringing the other members of the League down out of the clouds.
After he was framed for the bombing of the Atlantean embassy and the sinking of a United States battleship, Superman comes to take Arthur in. Arthur gives into his anger and frustration, reminding the Boy Scout in Blue that even though Kal-El is the most powerful being in the League, Arthur will do anything to protect those he loves, and that involves stepping from his role of man into his role of literal god.
Otherwise, Arthur is humble, always taking time to talk to everyone, and trying to make the best of any situation. That is, unless you watch the Justice League cartoons — then he's just an ass. Or, Flashpoint Paradox — then he's an ass and a terrorist. We're ignoring those and moving on.
Arthur Deserves More Credit Where It Is Due And Less Ridicule
Yes, no one will every truly forget the Super Friends rendition that ruined Aquaman for decades to come, but seriously — give his comics a try, and see just how well written and well developed a character he is.
Who is your favorite member of the Justice League?