Yes, I know the fear that word up there brings for folks, but trust me when I say that this is the kind of homework you’re going to love doing! That’s right, the King of the Seven Seas is due to hit theaters in the next two weeks, giving us plenty of time to read some of the essential comics that relate to the film or are just pretty darn great themselves. With Aquaman already making huge waves (pun absolutely intended) in China, it seems destined to be a hit across the globe, so let’s hit the books and get you prepared.
1. Peter David‘s Aquaman Run (By Peter David & Various Artists)
Peter David is one of God’s greatest gifts to comics, and is easily one of the most consistent writers in the game. Despite being hugely underrated, he’s penned characters ranging from the Hulk to Young Justice to my personal favorite, X-Factor. His work on Aquaman was the turning point for that character, taking Arthur Curry from a walking, fish-talking punchline (a recurring theme in these titles) to a true blue badass. No longer the meek little set dressing for Super Friends, David’s Aquaman commanded respect and was not afraid to throw down for his kingdom, even facing off against his Justice League teammates from time to time. It wasn’t just about Aquaman being cool, though, as it also amped up his villains and the threats to his kingdom, forcing him to endure heavy sacrifices and loss as well as victories. Action-packed, emotional and epic in every sense, David’s Aquaman is the foundation upon which all subsequent titles featuring Arthur Curry have been built, and looks to have also influenced the film in all the best ways.
After DC realized the… mixed bag of the New 52 had to go, they blamed the whole thing on Alan Moore and decided to do a soft relaunch of the entire universe. Dan Abnett, once a member of the celebrated writing duo behind Marvel’s cosmic line (The Guardians of the Galaxy series directly influenced the movie), was given the responsibility of rebirthing a few important titles, namely Aquaman. While the entire run is great, his first two arcs are a very effective introduction to Aquaman’s character, exploring his relationship with Mera, the struggles of being king and how he relates to both the human and Atlantean parts of himself. Throw in a vicious pair of fights with hated nemesis Black Manta, a war between Atlantis and the USA, and even Aquaman decking Superman, and you have a fun, action-packed ride that effectively brought back one of DC’s greatest heroes.
3. JLA: The Obsidian Age (By Joe Kelly & Doug Mahnke, Yvel Guichel)
In the aftermath of the epic Our Worlds At War event, Aquaman is presumed dead and Atlantis is missing, but when two warriors from the past assault the Justice League, things get a little weird. Turns out our favorite sea-faring hero took Atlantis to the past, and that the League must battle a union of powerful and vicious ancient heroes to get him back. In the present-day, Atlantis returns in ruins, and a new League headed up by Nightwing must defeat a powerful Atlantean creature that has manifested there. An epic story across time and with some truly shocking twists and turns, The Obsidian Age is all about Atlantis and it’s place in the DC Universe, and features one of Aquaman’s best moments as a character. To truly understand why he and his kingdom are so important in this universe, pick this up pronto.
4. Aquaman: The Trench (By Geoff Johns & Ivan Reis)
When DC rebooted their universe with the New 52, acclaimed writer Geoff Johns took the reins of Aquaman, hoping to do for him what he’d done for Hal Jordan, Barry Allen and the Justice Society. While the results are… mixed, Johns once again tackled the public perception of Aquaman as a joke and introduced a terrifying new foe in the Trench which also feature in the upcoming movie. For those who love a badass Aquaman and want to see the origins of these creepy alien-fish things, check this out, and enjoy some of that sweet, sweet Ivan Reis artwork along with it. Just don’t expect anything too great and you’ll be alright.
5. Aquaman: Throne of Atlantis (By Geoff Johns & Paul Pelletier, Ivan Reis)
The battle between Aquaman and his half-brother Ocean Master has raged for decades, but the Throne of Atlantis crossover between Aquaman and Justice League is the most recent and one of the most significant. When a US Navy ship accidentally launches missiles into Atlantis, King Orm launches a devastating attack on the East Coast. With the world on the brink of war and the Justice League ready to intervene, Aquaman has to figure out a way to diffuse the crisis and defeat his brother once and for all. This is Geoff Johns at his best, dealing with big stakes, massive fights and real character interaction that shows us why we love these characters. The art is truly incredible as well, adding to the scale of the story and to the plight our hero faces. It’s a truly entertaining ride, and must be read before seeing the new film.
Well there you have it, folks, five titles that should get you geared up and ready to see our aquatic hero on the big screen! If you have any other suggestions comment below and let the people know what you recommend, and make sure to go see Aquaman on December 21!