Monday, June 14, 2010

Is a new Aqualad really a good idea?

Over at Newsarama, it was announced that a September issue of Brightest Day would introduce readers to a new Aqualad (as the original Aqualad, who was going by the name of Tempest, was killed in Blackest Night. Or something like that.) This news has been met with a wide range of fan reactions, namely because of the fact that this version of Aqualad is a minority character, which runs counter to the trend Chris Sims at Comics Alliance noted which is that DC seems to be currently reverting minority versions of DC heroes to their Silver Age legacy versions.

This character is supposedly linked to a new Young Justice cartoon coming soon.

There is some resemblance, but the trading of dreadlocks for a blonde crew cut and blue eyes bothers me on some level, but let's not get into that right now.

The big question posters at messageboards are asking is this:

Why is DC introducing a new Aqualad when they just got finished killing a perfectly good new Atom? Won't he just be killed later when they decide to return the original Aqualad - like Jason Rusch Firestorm?

I think people are forgetting that DC has to serve two masters. One is old school fanboys who want to read about the true Green Lantern and the true Flash (and by that, they mean Hal Jordan and Barry Allen, not Alan Scott or Jay Garrick, which just goes to show their bias...)

The other master is the media arm of Time Warner, which doesn't necessarily feel comfortable peddling a cartoon with an all-white cast.

So we get a new Aqualad, who may or may not be the son of Black Manta, which to me is sort of cool idea.

Except - why Aqualad?

Aquaman Archives on Amazon I would have rather seen a new character for the Young Justice show as I have a problem with Aqua-anybody on super-team shows. Such charaters are either relegated to monitor duty when the adventure involves doing stuff on land, or when the crisis is in the sea, the rest of the team fits in awkwardly. So to me, this introduction of a *new* character feels like a wasted opportunity.

IMO, the best use of Aquaman is when he was used in the 50's - as a guide to a world of amazing adventures where faux science fiction and fanciful magic are used to tell light hearted stories meant to do nothing more than tickle our minds with wonderous notions.

People always claim Aquaman is hard to make interesting, but I really think that's just laziness. If you think of Flash Gordon and how he was a gateway to stories on Mongo, then I think you see how Aquaman could be better used. Writers get wrapped up in the enviromental politics angle with Aquaman, like that's all they have to bring to the table to make the story good. Having that be the be all end all of your story is just boring.
You know what's not boring?

Aquaman swimming through a dying mans bloodstream!

I'd argue that in a sense, telling amazing adventure stories is what all comics used to do but somewhere along the way, we got so wrapped up in superpowered slugfests, that the genre seems to have eaten itself. (Isn't that rush of wonderous discovery part of what makes the Lee/Kirby run on Fantastic Four so cool - all the neat places and characters they introduce you too? And how often did Neil Gaiman's Sandman have to zap people with power rays to keep you entertained?)

What's sad, is that a previous switcharoo with John Stewart worked so well. With him as Green Lantern on the Justice League cartoon, millions of kids got to see an A-list hero of color with an honest to god Bronze Age legacy behind him. I remember Chaquita Davis, the project manager at a software company I worked for, telling me how her boys were so excited to see a black superhero on the Justice League cartoon.

For them, and other kids I imagine, that was who Green Lantern had always been. As PC Replacements go (as some people call such things), it was the most painless AND successful I've ever seen. The sort of success that DC could have parlayed into using the character movies.

And now, with the Green Lantern movie coming up, I'm not sure they will be as excited to see their Green Lantern has been replaced.

Anyway, enjoy todays undersea themed Golden Comics: Blue Circle Comics featuring Maureen Marine!

Maureen was the victim of a Nazi U-boat attack. After her father's fishing boat sunk, she drowns, but Maureen was revived by Father Neptune. He gave her the ability to breathe underwater and also made her queen of Atlantis. Maureen Marine protected her new home from the likes of Nazis and the Miromen. ~Public Domain Superheroes

Issue one actually has her first appearance and origin, but I think the great cover on issue three demands top billing. :)

[ Blue Circle Comics 03 ]

[ Blue Circle Comics 01 ]



Trey said...

I think you analysis of "why a new Aqualad" and "why one of color" is correct.

I would say that I don't think Aqualad is a character that nostalgic fans would have as much yen to return to "how he was."

I've always though that Aquaman would work best as sort of a sea-centered Rockford Files/John MAcDonald's Travis McGee meets Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. A laid-back dude living in a quirky coastal town, who occasional has to solve sea-related mysteries both mundane and outre.

Caine said...


That Might work but what about Atlantis? Not a fan?

beno said...

Is it cause he's a different color and is sporting dreadlocks I like to see black heroes cuz we barely have any even in movies wen the hero is suppose to be black he's white its crazy

Jim Shelley said...

@Beno, yeah, it's a little disappointing isn't it? Wouldn't have been cool if instead of Hawkeye in this Avengers movie, we had been introduced to Black Panther or Luke Cage. Still, it's was good to see Mark Millar's decision to make Nick Fury a black man vindicated. (Not a decision I liked originally, being a stick up my ass purist) but one that really panned out for Disney.

Arctorius Yensid said...

The Young Justice Aqualad was created first exclusively for the show, and Geoff Johns liked his look so much, that he tweaked the look, and added him to the mainstream comics


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