From NPR:Aquaman No Longer Sleeps With The Fishes! I Should Probably Rephrase That.He's returning from the dead, is my point.
We haven't seen much of DC's erstwhile Sea King lately. Oh, he's shown up as one of the many voluble super-zombies now overrunning the DC Universe in the mass-spandexhumation event called Blackest Night. But then, who hasn't?
Here's the Blackest Night precis: Reanimated corpses of fallen heroes and villains have returned to feast on the raw emotions of living heroes. Read: There's been a glut of costumed corpses delivering monologues meant to get the living heroes in touch with their feeeeelings.
. . .This recent history of the character reads like nothing so much as a decades-long Good News/Bad News joke. Viz:
. . .GOOD NEWS! Aquaman Leads the Justice League!
In the mid-80s, a haughty Aquaman haughtily told the big guns of the Justice League (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc.) where to get off, with great haughtiness. They were dividing their time too much, he told them, and the League was suffering from their inattention. Commit or quit, he said. They quit. And Aquaman became chairman of the Justice League of America.
BAD NEWS! Aquaman Leads ...THIS Justice League.
To replace the big guns, Aquaman recruited some pea shooters like Vibe, Vixen, Gypsy and Steel. So began the Coy and Vance Duke era of the Justice League. Aquaman moved the League from their impossibly high-tech satellite 23,000 miles above the Earth to ... a bunker. In Detroit.
I say again: A Detroit bunker.
And then, after a few adventures (and lots of shouting at everybody), he left the team to go work on his troubled marriage.
(To be fair, this era of Justice League history has its vocal supporters. But many were relieved when this version of the League met a brutal end.)
. . .GOOD NEWS! Aquaman's back in the JLA!
Meanwhile, writer Grant Morrisson was accomplishing a feat that few writers had ever managed to pull off: He made Aquaman work as character in a team book. The Aquaman that appeared in the pages of Morrisson's JLA run retained Peter David's distinctive look, but came off a bit less imperious, and Morrisson had a gift for embracing the character's, ah, unique set of powers in novel, narratively interesting ways.
BAD NEWS! He's Dead! Or in The Past! ... Something!
Soon after Morrisson left the JLA book, Aquaman presumably died saving the Earth during the 2001 crossover event Our Worlds at War. Only he didn't die: He'd been sent back to pre-history. When he eventually got back to the present two years later, he was, predictably enough, sulky about it.
. . .GOOD NEWS! Aquaman's Getting A New Series! Still Again Some More!
In 2003 writer Rick Veitch launched a new series that departed from the character's history and created one of its own, steeped in Arthurian legend. Aquaman was now a servant of the Lady of the Lake herself, who replaced his hook-hand with a hand of ... mystical ... water.
BAD NEWS! It's a Put-On!
The following is a quote from Veitch's first issue, a bit of Aquaman's narration as he swims the dark seas, wracked with guilt over the plight of his kingdom. Ready?
"I hear the cruel laughter of mollusks, mocking me."
The cruel laughter. OF MOLLUSKS.
Now, Veitch is a good writer, and frequently a funny one. I put it to you that it is impossible to read a line like "the cruel laughter of mollusks" as anything but a joke. And once you accept that, his entire run on Aquaman makes more sense, especially when you consider that it involved Aquaman not being able to hit anything with his water-hand, lest he endanger the healing powers of the mystic energy that is at the core of all creation and blah blah blah.
Veitch was clearly camping it up, which is cool. Certainly the character's ripe for a bit of fun. But his run was too incoherent and too beholden to hokey, faux-fantasy elements to amount to anything but a puzzling mess, and he left the book after 12 issues.
. . .GOOD NEWS! A New Direction for Aquaman! With a Great Writer!
In May of 2005, with issue #40, the series was renamed Aquaman, Sword of Atantis, and reconceived, by the great Kurt Busiek, as a sort of waterlogged Frank Frazetta swordfish-and-sorcery tale.
BAD NEWS! This New Direction Leads to an Aquaman Who Isn't Aquaman, and The Guy Who Used to be Aquaman Having A SQUID FOR A FACE
Busiek decided that classic Aquaman had run his course, and seemingly killed him off to replace him with a young kid who fights monsters and magic-with-a-k, advised by a mysterious, hooded, tentacle-bearded presence called the Dweller in the Depths, not to put too fine a point on it.
That said squid-bearded presence was in fact the original Aquaman was evident from the first, but it took another 10 issues, and another writer, for the book to acknowledge it, whereupon the original (now squiddy) Aquaman was summarily killed off, in the May 2007 issue.Full article can be found here