With Aquaman once more an important figure in DCnU (at least while Geoff Johns is writing him), I have a few queries about the Sea King from the Silver Age:

  • In perhaps the only occurence of National (DC) mimicking a Timely (Marvel) character, Aquaman was inspired by the success of the Sub-Mariner. Was he ever shown being in the same power level as the Avenging Son? Even in the Golden Age?
  • Was Aquaman the only one capable of communicating with sea life? Could Aqualad and/or Mera? One of my favorite SA comics was Brave & Bold #51 where Aquaman and Hawkman teamed up to battle Tyros, the Exile of Atlantis. He could command the creatures of the deep, too. Could anyone else?
  • When did the dreaded "One-Hour-Time-Limit" begin? Did he have to submerge himself? Take a shower? Or drink a glass of water? How did this affect him growing up? It must have really limited his experiences on land.
  • With his body able to handle the pressure of the ocean depths, could he have been bullet-proof like Namor?
  • Was Aquaman DC's first father? At least, of a newborn?
  • How big of a deal was Aquaman becoming King of Atlantis? Marvel was full of monarchs but was Earth-One affected by Arthur's rise to political power?
  • I grew up watching the Aquaman cartoon show but how and why did it happen? Instead of the Flash or Green Lantern? Was it Mort Weisinger's influence?
  • Did Aquaman ever patrol the Pacific Ocean? And how did he get there?
  • Did being on The Super Friends help or hurt Aquaman's viability, marketability and reputation? Because it didn't affect Superman and Batman's.

I hope this baits your interest and nets some comments!

Tags: aquaman, questions, wondering

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re: the one hour time limit - in one Silver Age story, Aquaman saved himself and Aqualad by combining hydrogen and oxygen from two tiny containers, implausibly making a pint or two of water.

How can Aquaman and Lori Lemaris co-exist in the same DC universe?

They were two different underwater cities that were on the continent of Atlantis, one were the people had legs, the other with fishtails. Of course then there's Wonder Woman's Merboy/Merman and his sunken city.

Aquaman kept Atlantis' existence a secret even though Lori Lemaris appeared on TV in Metropolis!

Commando Cody said:

How can Aquaman and Lori Lemaris co-exist in the same DC universe?

 

 

Mort Weisinger explained the reason for the two Atlantean cities 'way back in 1960. "Superboy and the Mermaid from Atlantis", from Adventure Comics # 280 (Jan., 1961) is a Superboy story which features a teen-age Lori Lemaris. On page 4, the details of why Aquaman's Atlanteans have legs and no tail are provided in these two panels:

 

I can field a few of these, Philip . . . .

 

"Was Aquaman the only one capable of communicating with sea life? Could Aqualad and/or Mera?"

 

Mera, no---she was not an Atlantean, nor even from Earth, but from another dimension, Dimension Aqua; hence, her hard-water powers.  But Aqualad did, indeed, possess the ability to telepathically communicate with and command sea life.  He demonstrated this in his first appearance---"The Kid from Atlantis", Adventure Comics # 269 (Feb., 1960)---and occasionally at other times, most notably, "The Underwater Olympics", from Adventure Comics # 277 (Oct., 1960).

 

Based on this, then, presumedly, all Atlanteans possessed the ability to telepathically communicate with sea life to some degree; yet, I don't recall seeing any others, than Aqualad, doing so.  Moreover, the series never really took pains to either (1) establish why Aquaman's power to command sea creatures was so much more powerful than the other Atlanteans; or (2) if only Aquaman and Aqualad had this ability, why just them?

 

 

"When did the dreaded "One-Hour-Time-Limit" begin? Did he have to submerge himself? Take a shower? Or drink a glass of water?"

 

The first mention of a one-hour time limit without water for Aquaman came in "The Ordeal of Aquaman", from Adventure Comics # 256 (Jan., 1959).  However, it wasn't quite the cut-and-dry deadline for the Sea King that it would become later.  As "The Ordeal of Aquaman" presented it, when he was out of the water, Aquaman possessed his regular strength and vitality for one hour.  Once that hour lapsed---if he was not exposed to water---severe dehydration set in; his strength faded and he weakened seriously.

 

The consequences of the one-hour time limit that became the norm---death---did not become established until "One Hour to Doom!", from Adventure Comics # 282 (Mar., 1961).  As this story proclaimed, Aquaman and Aqualad had only sixty minutes in full operating form outside the water.  At sixty minutes and one second---boom!---they dropped over dead.  This, of course, became the accepted convention from then on.

 

That's because such a specific weakness was a handy device to endanger Aquaman in fish-out-of-water plots.  However, it was also convenient for the writers not to be terribly specific about just what kind of exposure to water would forestal his demise.  In that same story, "One Hour to Doom!", Aquaman and Aqualad were able to thwart their one-hour time limit by immersing their faces in such various liquids and substances as water from the radiator of a broken-down car, snow, and goat's milk.  Being pelted by a water-sprinkler system would also do the job.  Wonder Woman # 215 (Dec., 1973-Jan., 1974) showed the at-the-end-of-his-hour Sea King being saved by being splashed in the face with soda pop.

 

Pretty much any exposure or ingestion of water would do the trick, including a sip from a water fountain (which I wouldn't be surprised to find out had actually been shown someplace).

 

 

"I grew up watching the Aquaman cartoon show but how and why did it happen? Instead of the Flash or Green Lantern? Was it Mort Weisinger's influence?"

 

The reason for why Aquaman got the nod as the Man of Steel's co-star in 1967's The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure must be recorded somewhere, but I'll be damned if I can find it.  I never come across the explanation for it.  (Batman was obviously out, since his live-action ABC series was still on the air, and The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure was broadcast on CBS.  But that doesn't explain why CBS, or Filmation, thought that the Marine Marvel was more marketable than, say, the Flash or the Green Lantern.)

 

I'd like to find out the answer to this one, myself.

 

 

"Did Aquaman ever patrol the Pacific Ocean?"   Sure.

 

"And how did he get there?"    He swam.

 

 

"Did being on The Super Friends help or hurt Aquaman's viability, marketability and reputation?"

 

Well, it was clearly a come-down.  In The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure, the Sea King was an equal co-star, getting two individual adventures in the second half of the hour.  For a brief time, in 1969-70, he was actually a headliner, when Filmation repackaged all of the the Hour of Adventure Aquaman episodes into its own thirty-minute series, called Aquaman.

 

Then, with The Super Friends, Aquaman was no longer the star, or even the co-star.  Instead, he was one of the bunch, a bunch which usually highlighted Marvin and Wendy, no less.

 

Clearly, Aquaman has, somehow, always been viable as an animated character.  While the reasons for it may be mysterious, he was a presence in several DC-related cartoons in the late '60's to mid-1970's.

 

I cannot speak to his marketability, but The Super Friends had a marked effect on his reputation.  It was here that Aquaman gained a reputation for lameness.  Here is where he became the butt of wisecracks about only being able to swim fast and talk to fish.  There was none of that from his time on The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure.  In fact, remembering back to that time, we thought it was neat that any DC hero got a cartoon.  I didn't enjoy the Aquaman cartoons as much as I did the Superman ones, or those of the special guest star; but he was never the Rodney Dangerfield of super-heroes to me or my friends, either.

 

No, that all started with Super Friends.  Probably a big contributing factor to that was, while in Hour of Adventure, he worked only with his sidekick, Aqualad, in Super Friends, he operated alongside Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman and Robin.  All of these heroes eclipsed the Sea King in coolness or super-powered might or both.  It wasn't that Aquaman was a weak character; it's just that he looked weak in comparison with the other Super Friends.

 

 

On the old Ask Mr. Silver Age forum at CBGXtra.com that went away coming up on two years ago, I used to review most of the Showcase Presents volumes as they came out. Here are some scans I made for those SP Aquaman reviews that show how much fun that Silver Age series could be.

Hoy

I'm puzzled by something, though I don't recall the details and don't want them all.

Just what was the controversy over the end of the Aquaman series, and didn't his queen die or something?  What really happened, in a nutshell, please?

Kirk G said:

I'm puzzled by something, though I don't recall the details and don't want them all.

Just what was the controversy over the end of the Aquaman series, and didn't his queen die or something?  What really happened, in a nutshell, please?

 

 

As far as I recall, there was no furor over the end of the Aquaman title, at least not its Silver-Age incarnation.  The last issue---Aquaman # 56 (Mar.-Apr., 1971)---came and went, and the magazine folded without fanfare.  In those days, you didn't discover a title had been cancelled until four or five months went by and then you suddenly realised that you hadn't seen it on the stands, anymore.

I think the "controversy" was that Steve Skeates wrote Aquaman #56 as part of an on-going adventure that he didn't get to finish when they decided to cancel the series. He already had the next issue plotted out and didn't get to use it. So, three years later, he found himself writing Sub-Mariner and used the plot there, picking up a couple panels from his last Aquaman story. Here's a really good explanation of how it went:

http://www.dialbforblog.com/archives/162/

I think Aquaman made a good cartoon character on his own, because he was in his own world. He had his own cast, villains and weird creatures around him that was unlike anything else. Once he has to interact with other heroes, though, his limitations become apparent. Bringing other heroes to his world either shows them at such a disadvantage that it's embarrassing, or they're so much more powerful than Aquaman that he looks feeble. And putting Aquaman on land is literally showing him as a fish out of water.

The early JLA tried to take advantage of his powers by having at least one portion of the quest take place undersea. That got tough issue after issue. The strangest, both good and bad, was "Riddle of the Robot Justice League" in JLA #13, where they have to fight robot duplicates on another planet.

Since there's no ocean around, Aquaman has to sit in a little pool and yell encouragement to the others as they battle for their lives. That's embarrassing. Fortunately, his encouragements gave the others clues and inspiration to beat their duplicates, making his role important. A nice little moral lesson, but a pretty sad victory for Aquaman.

Frankly, I never am impressed by undersea stories, because they never consider how different things would be underwater in terms of architecture, furniture, eating, etc. They make things look like land with a little more floating/flying around.

The greatest cartoon Aquaman was the B&B one. He was a great supporting/team-up character, but I doubt he'd have been bearable as the star of a series.

-- MSA 

Regarding Aquaman's power levels, he was shown to be very, very strong back in the Golden Age.  I can recall at least one panel I've seen with him ripping through the hull of a submarine or battleship.  That's no mean feat. EDIT: here's a link where you can preview the panel in question.

Regarding being bulletproof, I don't know of any time that was explored, but my guess is that no, he was not bulletproof, or at the very least, he didn't want to find out the hard way.  Perhaps he should have been, however.

Was Aquaman DC's first father? At least, of a newborn?

IIRC, Aquaman was the first DC superhero to actually marry, followed by the birth of a baby. All the other heroes, with I think the only exception of the Flash, were in the "girls are yucky" mindset that their presumed readers were in.

How big of a deal was Aquaman becoming King of Atlantis? Marvel was full of monarchs but was Earth-One affected by Arthur's rise to political power?

I don't remember any Silver Age stories showing any ramifications of Aquaman being a king, other than somebody else wanting the job. It seems to me that Aquaman was concerned only with protecting Atlantis while Namor went further in trying to protect ALL the world's oceans. Namor was very vocal about pollution, which was not on DC's radar at the time.

I grew up watching the Aquaman cartoon show but how and why did it happen? Instead of the Flash or Green Lantern? Was it Mort Weisinger's influence?

I wonder if there was some sort of consultant role for the editor? It would be easier for the animation studio to deal with a single point of contact. I also think if you are making a cartoon for small children there is pressure to make it less violent. Superman is so powerful that he never has to actually hit anybody, and Aquaman seems inherently non-violent.

Hoy, some of the old cbgxtra message board topics are back online, though they didn't remember my old password or email address; I was able to add a comment (well, a test, really) to your old posting about Aquaman. I just googled "cbgxtra hoy murphy showcase presents aquaman" and your post from Feb 13, 2008 popped up first.
 
Hoy Murphy said:

On the old Ask Mr. Silver Age forum at CBGXtra.com that went away coming up on two years ago, I used to review most of the Showcase Presents volumes as they came out. Here are some scans I made for those SP Aquaman reviews that show how much fun that Silver Age series could be.

Hoy

Richard Willis said:

I grew up watching the Aquaman cartoon show but how and why did it happen? Instead of the Flash or Green Lantern? Was it Mort Weisinger's influence?

. . .  I also think if you are making a cartoon for small children there is pressure to make it less violent.

 

 

That wouldn't have been a concern in making The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure in 1967.  The moral watchdog-groups that claimed to know what was best for children didn't get powerful enough to affect Saturday-morning programming until the last quarter of 1968---a peak violence year in America, with the riots at the '68 Democratic National Convention and the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. 

 

The backlash from that is what resulted in a major dilution of super-hero-cartoon violence and eventually pushed animated super-heroes off the stage altogether.  That's why the very late '60's and most of the '70's Saturday-morning cartoons are full of "funny" animals and "funny" rock groups, and why the kids got lessons in morals shoved down their throat every episode.

 

Compare the on-screen events of any cartoon shown on The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure with any episode of The Super Friends, and you'll see the---ugh!---difference.

 

 

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