Comic Review: Aquaman By Peter David Book One

Here we go, with the third and final Aquaman-related article of the day.  The volume I’m reviewing here reprints the first nine issues and a special “TIme and Tide” mini-series that marked the beginning of writer Peter David’s beloved run on the King of the Seas’ book.

That run, that I read when it was new back in the 90s, is why I consider myself an Aquaman fan.  David’s work put a stamp on the character that stood out for a good, long time, and so, I opted to return and see how it turned out with the eyes of an older fan.

David’s run began with the Time and Tide mini-series, though it wasn’t quite a “year one” series.  Instead, each of the four issues was more like Aquaman’s first time doing various things:  becoming a superhero on the surface world, discovering what death meant as he was being raised by dolphins (his origin was a bit different back then), his first time finding love with a young Inuit woman, and his first encounter with Ocean Master.  As it is, all of these stories were, to one degree or another, meant to set up future stories.  I actually hadn’t read that mini-series before, so it was a bit nice to see David lay the groundwork for the series he was taking over.

And David taking over Aquaman really was the sort of move the man made on a routine basis.  He was rarely the guy to write the big name, marquee hero so much as he was the guy to take over the second- or third-stringer and then do as he saw fit which often meant he got to play around a lot more with the hero in question.  That happens here and early on since the biggest change David made to Aquaman, done in the first storyline of the main series, was to have the hero’s hand get eaten off by piranha.  He then replaced it, first with a harpoon, and later with a more advanced cybernetic hook.  He changed the hero’s costume into something that was more like a metallic shoulder harness over a bare chest, a lot of long hair, a beard, and a look that carried over not only to Grant Morrison’s JLA but also to the DCAU’s animated version of the character in the various Justice League cartoons.  And that was while David was recreating Aqualad, adding Dolphin as a love interest in light of Mera’s absence, and the introduction of Aquaman’s illegitimate son Koryak.

Additionally, David brought in the mythology surrounding the sunken kingdom of Atlantis, notably the idea that the Atlantean throne must always be fought over by brothers, and that was just to start.

If anything, the series largely lacks David’s distinctive sense of humor, something he generally puts into his writing.  but that would probably be due to how he approaches Aquaman himself.  Aqualad is a bit sillier, but Aquaman is a somewhat moody, serious man who doesn’t take guff from anyone and is used to getting done what he has to do.  As it is, what is here is the set up for the stories that are to come.  It was fun revisiting this old work, and I should probably get back to the rest of it eventually.  9 out of 10 unexpected head shots.

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