For a long time Aquaman was the butt of many jokes, inside and outside of the comic book world. He’s the guy who talks to fish, right. Oh, and he’s very strong…until, that is, he dehydrates and then he’s pretty much a liability. Uhm Okay….
The king of Atlantis’s fortunes began to change around 2011. With the launch of the New 52 line by DC. There Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis presented Aquaman in a fresh and edgy way, embracing his lowly stature and subverting it with a good dash of humor thrown into the mix. This made the Aquaman comic one of the best in the New 52 line, and returned Aquaman comics to the most fun they had been since the Silver Age.
After the bland Arthur Curry of the 1970s, this modern rebranding and reboot of the character was both interesting and appealing. When the current rise of comic book movie franchises finally gained steam, it wasn’t too long before Aquaman caught the eye of the movie makers and producers on the long list of DC heroes being considered for big screen appearances.
As we know, after a cameo in Batman v Superman (2016), Aquaman finally made a full onscreen appearance in the 2017 Justice League movie played by Jason Momoa. Arthur Curry is now set for his first solo outing on the big screen. Aquaman will be directed by James Wan and is set for a December 21st 2018 release date. If nothing else, it should lead some to take another look at Aquaman’s key comics. In what follows I’ll give my thoughts about the Aquaman titles receiving attention due to the new film and currently peaking the interest of collectors. Which Aquaman comics are worth spending money on?
Like many DC heroes, there is more than one version of Aquaman. Aquaman’s original Golden Age appearance (this version was created by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris) was in More Fun Comics #73 (cover date November, 1941). There he’s described as a human male and a product of scientific tests conducted by his father. The comics most collectors are interested in right now however, are the Silver Age keys featuring the modern version of Aquaman also known as Arthur Curry and later Orin. Arthur Curry had a human father and an important Atlantean mother. In this version, Arthur’s powers come from his mother, Atlanna, who was revealed in Showcase #260 to be the Queen of Atlantis. This version of Aquaman, was developed by Robert Bernstein and Ramona Fredon, and he first appears in Adventure Comics # 229 (Oct. 1956). It is this version of Aquaman that joins the Justice League of America in Brave and the Bold #28 (1960). He also, subsequently, gained his own Silver Age title that introduced major characters like: Mera, Ocean Master, Black Mantis, Aqualad, etc.
It is in Adventure Comics #260 that we learn Aquaman’s new origins and his Arthur Curry identity. Here we learn that his father was a lighthouse keeper and his mother, a queen from Atlantis. This is an undervalued but still expensive key, returns in higher grade have been crazy. A 9.2. CGC copy will currently cost you just under $5, 000.00, best returns the last thirteen years have been on 6.5’s (up 280.03%)!
After DC’s ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ cross over event that retconned the entire DC Universe in the mid-1980s, Aquaman had his backstory changed once again- this time he was the offspring of an Atlantean mother and a Wizard named Atlan. However, this modern updated version, called Orin, kept almost all of the Silver Age powers and supporting characters. Of the supporting characters, the Ocean Master aka Orm Curry was one of Aquaman’s most menacing. Originally Aquaman’s half-brother, Orm was an early Silver Age foe who, unlike Aquaman had a plain old fashioned human mother. Out of jealousy for his brother, Orm becomes one of Aquaman’s deadliest villains. His first appearance is Aquaman #29. Best returns on this the last few years have been on CGC graded 6.0 and 9.4 copies. This may change if the movie proves to be a hit and prices rise on all grades.
Black Manta is another of Aquaman’s deadliest foes. In the Silver Age run, he actually murders Arthur and Mera’s son (Aquababy). Black Manta will be making a movie appearance in the Aquaman movie played and will be played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. Best returns on investment on this one has been, surprisingly, on 2.5 graded copies. This comic is actually hard to find in higher grades, a 9.2 copy will currently cost you around $2,000.00