It was Monday night, and since I know how to party, I was reading Titans #47 from 2009. This issue features Tempest, and he is going on and on about how he was shunned, hated, and also cast ouy by the other Atlanteans because he has purple eyes. Purple eyes bode bad things apparently. I was thinking,"Huh? When the heck did this happen?"

I'm not the biggest Tempest fan, the last comic I may have read starring him was his miniseries from the 90s. I'm not sure if I did actually read it, and if I did it left zero impression on me.

So, does anyone know where this whole purple eyes = disaster at sea came from?

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Actually it came from Aqualad's first appearance in "The Kid from Atlantis!" from Adventure Comics #269 (F'60)! There it was revealed that being born with purple eyes was a sign that a child was a "hereditary throwback" who would eventually perish underwater thus the child was sent to the surface world to live.

However, despite having purple eyes, Aqualad could breathe underwater like any other Atlantean. He was sent away because he was deathly afraid of fish! Luckily he was found by Aquaman who cured him of his phobia! 

I really can't recall any other story from the Silver/Bronze Age where Aqualad's purple eyes were mentioned, though I may be wrong. He lived in Atlantis and no one ever freaked out over it.

I have the Tempest trade and will try to read it tomorrow!

"...and since I know how to party..."

Whoa, slow down you animal!

The purple eyes came back in Aqualad's solo feature after the death of Aquababy, in Adventure Comics IIRC, not too far apart from the 1976-1978 issues of Teen Titans.

There they were somehow linked to an Atlantean offshot called the Idylists, which were themselves related to Garth's birth origin.

Philip Portelli said:

Actually it came from Aqualad's first appearance in "The Kid from Atlantis!" from Adventure Comics #269 (F'60)! There it was revealed that being born with purple eyes was a sign that a child was a "hereditary throwback" who would eventually perish underwater thus the child was sent to the surface world to live.

However, despite having purple eyes, Aqualad could breathe underwater like any other Atlantean. He was sent away because he was deathly afraid of fish! Luckily he was found by Aquaman who cured him of his phobia! 

I really can't recall any other story from the Silver/Bronze Age where Aqualad's purple eyes were mentioned, though I may be wrong. He lived in Atlantis and no one ever freaked out over it.

I have the Tempest trade and will try to read it tomorrow!

The story "Aquaman meets Aquagirl" in Adventure #266 (November 1959) also features an Atlantean with purple eyes.  It was reprinted under the title "The First Aquagirl" in Super DC Giant #S-26 (July-August 1971), which is where I read it.

In the story, Aquaman encounters someone who appears to be a surface woman with the same powers as him, and who wants to become his partner.  She is eventually revealed to be an Atlantean who was exiled to the surface world as a baby because her purple eyes indicated that she could lose her powers at any time.  Unsurprisingly, this happens, and she has to give up her partnership ambitions.  According to the GCD, this is the first Aquaman story to mention purple eyes as being significant for Atlanteans.

Atlanteans sure love to exile their own children...

Peter Wrexham said:

The story "Aquaman meets Aquagirl" in Adventure #266 (November 1959) also features an Atlantean with purple eyes.  It was reprinted under the title "The First Aquagirl" in Super DC Giant #S-26 (July-August 1971), which is where I read it.

Eleven-year-old me was buying Adventure Comics pretty regularly at this time. Looking at the two covers and reading the synopses on their DC Fandom pages, I think I read #269 at the time. The subject of purple eyes rang a bell. I'm pretty sure I read the Aqualad story in #269. The story in #266 doesn't sound familiar to me. I understand that the "girl" saves Aquaman from a giant clam. Wouldn't he have been able to tell the clam to release him?

It was an evil clam with powerful psychic shielding.



Richard Willis said:

Wouldn't he have been able to tell the clam to release him?

Or he just clammed up!

The Baron said:

It was an evil clam with powerful psychic shielding.



Richard Willis said:

Wouldn't he have been able to tell the clam to release him?

Okay, I just reread the Aquaman: Tempest trade which, of course, contains Garth's 1996-97 mini-series by Phil Jimenez where Aqualad returns to the Idylists' city to complete some ritual to give him his "birthright". He fluctuates between wanting and not wanting it, goaded on by Atlan, Aquaman's Post-Crisis father.

Oh, and Aquagirl is back (long and predictable story)!

But we learn that Garth's father was not insane, his mother not dead and the bad guy was linked to him. 

Also the whole "purple eyes are bad/cursed" was made up by the Idylists because they were a sign of royal power and they wanted to prevent the ritual from being performed because that would also free the bad guy!

I have mixed feelings about Phil Jimenez's work. He puts a lot of effort into it, trying to out-George Perez George Perez with his details but his figures are always posing and never seem natural or subtle. And his artwork always overpowers his story.

I get the need to update Aqualad especially his outfit. I like his Tempest garb but his new powers should make him superior to Aquaman. And this was supposed to show Garth's growth as a person but his moods switch at the drop of a fish!

"Don't call me Aqualad!"

"Okay...Minnow? Sardine? Gillhead? That better?"

I think what happened with Garth was the same thing that happened with Jason Todd. Post Crisis, Jason was changed from essentially a carbon copy of Dick Grayson to an unlikable snotty nosed punk, and that stuck, so when if was time to decide whether to kill him off the choice was pretty easy as he was very much not a fan favorite. 

I wouldn't be surprised if Garth was added to Aquaman by editorial mandate, that he was a character the writers hated, and that's why he was always written as useless. Heck, Octo was a better sidekick.

         I remember reading the origin of Aqualad way back in the fifties. A month or so later in the letters page, a reader replied, "Kill him dead!"

        We were so civilized back then.

I get the feeling that Aqualad was created to be Aquaman's "Jimmy Olsen", rather than his "Robin"--other than a handful of TT issues where he could command sea life, Garth's only ability was surviving in water.  Garth's main function in the series was to ask obvious questions, get rescued, and make Aquaman look more heroic and capable in comparison.  He never really came off as a real assistant like Robin or Speedy.  Heck, the one-shot Aquagirl that proceeded him was more useful than he ever was!  Topo was more help to Aquaman, but not as good at asking questions or expressing the right level of hero worship.  Looking at the early Mera stories, the creators seemed to lean in to the "pampered princess" aspect of her personality to divert attention from the way her "hard water" powers were more dynamic than "talking to fish", to keep her from overshadowing the series' lead, but Aquaman could always count on Aqualad to make him look good.

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