Aquaman: The Waterbearer
by Rick Veitch, various artists (DC Comics, 2003)

Aquaman has never been one of my favorite characters. Maybe I just don't like undersea monarchs, because I've never enjoyed that Namor guy over at Marvel Comics, either -- although I did enjoy seeing Aquaman kick Namor's butt in a company crossover several years ago, so I guess at the end of the day I like Aquaman just a little bit more.

So I decided to give The Waterbearer a try. In it, Aquaman has been banished from Atlantis after a whole time-travel ordeal, at the end of which he apparently sank the city to the bottom of the ocean -- again. I can't really share the details on those storylines, 'cause I didn't read them ... and The Waterbearer did not give me the motivation I'd need to seek them out.

Because this story -- in which Aquaman escapes death on the rocks and finds new strength, inspiration and a very strange little water-based hand to replace the one he lost -- is just too complicated without the payoff necessary to make it worthwhile. Why the King of the Sea would have some deep-rooted connection to the Lady of the Lake is beyond me, and the fact that Aquaman's given name is Arthur just isn't enough of an explanation.

So now Aquaman has a psychic connection to the Lady (a candidate for America's Next Top Lingerie Model if ever there was one), and his watery hand will crawl around on its own and obey his mental commands. Meanwhile, the citizens of Atlantis hate him, its soldiery wants to kill him and all the fish of the sea want to eat him. On the other hand, he's found a job as an assistant lighthouse keeper, he has a burgeoning new romance with a representative from the Maritime Commission and he got a spiffy new pair of pants and a haircut, so all's not bad.

Aquaman always seemed to me a character of unfulfilled potential. The Waterbearer strips most of that potential away from the character and gives him a brand new slate of less interesting material to work with. This book has not convinced me to give him any more of a chance.

review by
Tom Knapp

29 September 2007

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