Aquaman, a stoic member of DC’s Justice League, has been around DC Comics for decades. However, his popularity surged in mainstream popular culture with Jason Momoa’s portrayal of Arthur Curry for the DC Extended Universe.
As we eagerly await the second Aquaman film titled ‘The Lost Kingdom,’ here are the 15 best Aquaman comics and storylines to prepare you for the film. Enjoy!
15. ‘The Legend of Aquaman’ Vol. 1 #1
‘The Legend of Aquaman’ was a one-shot comic by Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming that explored Aquaman’s lore in a bit more detail, altering his origin story a bit, etc. They explained how a nameless infant was abandoned on the rocks of Mercy Reef, where he grew up alone, figuring out how to speak to marine life.
He was then adopted by Arthur Curry, and once his adoptive father was taken away, the boy took his name, Arthur Curry. Long story short, Arthur grew up and was taken to Atlantis, where he was held in prison – his signature gold-and-green costume was explained as actually being prison clothes.
There are numerous little details in this issue that Aquaman fans will enjoy, even if it isn’t ‘canonical,’ per se.
14. ‘The Brave and the Bold: Night Gods’
I loved this one because Aquaman comics usually depict Atlantis as this utopia and the land of bliss while their King deals with threats coming outside of the Kingdom. This story, however, is darker, and Aquaman teams up with an unlikely antihero, Etrigan, to create the ‘Night Gods.’
As it turns out, the duo teams up every year to deal with the threat of a dark, eldritch god from the deep that wants to shatter the world and swallow it in darkness. It’s actually a very cool story showing Atlantis and Aquaman in a different light than what the common reader is used to.
13. ‘Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis’ Vol. 1
Generally, the thing I loved about ‘Sword of Atlantis’ the most is the artwork – it’s so different from other Aquaman pieces that it really gives the character himself a totally new vibe. Also, it speaks not of Arthur Curry but rather Arthur Curry II, Aquaman’s successor.
The story heavily revolves around Atlantis and depicts it as this divided, almost lawless underwater realm, and Aquaman – like King Arthur himself – is ready to unify them and bring peace. The run was actually quite short, but it was cool to see that Aquaman, as a character, can go in so many different directions other than his classic ‘righteous defender of the ocean’ trope.
12. ‘Aquaman’ Vol. 7 #49-52 & ‘Aquaman: Rebirth #1 – Out of Darkness’
‘Out of Darkness’ is a post-New 52 storyline that saw Aquaman’s origin story revamped once again. He again accepts the throne as the King of Atlantis, but instead of ruling over this righteous place where everyone accepts him, he finds himself having no allies other than Mera.
They deal not only with political issues but also major, dark threats lurking to destroy not just Atlantis but the world as a whole. I’d put this one higher on the list because it’s really cool, but I just feel like there are better Aquaman storylines that took a similar approach to the story.
11. ‘Aquaman Annual’ #1, ‘Aquaman’ #34 & 42-46 – ‘The Triton Saga’
This is one of the coolest Aquaman storylines I’ve ever read because it truly establishes what an incredible powerhouse Aquaman is. Poseidon was murdered by the god Triton, and it was on Arthur Curry to take down the crazed god. He showed all his skill and might despite taking on a seemingly impossible task.
The 90s era of Aquaman in the comics was mostly like that – trying to establish that Aquaman isn’t funny or silly as people perceived him earlier – he is the real deal. However, the Triton Saga is one of the rare storylines that actually did it.
Just… disregard that hook/harpoon hand, will you?
10. ‘Aquaman’ Vol. 8 #43-47 – ‘Unspoken Water’
A 2019 Rebirth collection titled ‘Unspoken Water’ is, in my opinion, one of the best Aquaman storylines ever. Call it recency bias if you want, but it was just awesome. We have Arthur Curry washing ashore in a mysterious little town called Unspoken Water, where its residents fear the sea mightily.
Arthur lost his memory and possibly his mind, and nothing is as it seems in the town. As a huge threat starts rising in the ocean, Arthur has visions of a redheaded woman and feels a strong bond with her. Will he get his memories back, escape the dreaded town, and reclaim his Atlantean throne? Read to find out.
9. ‘Aquaman’ #15-20 – ‘American Tidal’
A big part of San Diego sinks underwater, and Arthur Curry rushes to save them. Despite his efforts, all the people sink – but for some mysterious, unexplained reason, they are able to breathe underwater. They nickname their city ‘Sub Diego’ while Aquaman sticks around to solve the mystery and help them adjust to their new world. Truth be told, he WAS banished from Atlantis at the time…
I won’t spoil too much, but I genuinely liked the story because it showed how Aquaman cares not only for the big-picture stuff but also for ‘minor’ underwater problems (at least in the grand scheme of things). Oh, he also receives a hand from the Lady of the Lake – and I don’t mean help, I mean literally a hand to finally replace that hook harpoon thingy he had instead.
8. ‘Justice League: Drowned Earth’
‘Drowned Earth’ is a relatively new storyline in which the Legion of Doom assassinated Poseidon and cursed all the waters of Earth, bringing humanity – and life in general – to the brink of extinction.
As it turns out, they were working at the behest of an unknown universal threat, which turns out to be the Ocean Deities. I know it sounds like they were simply underwater gods, but the Ocean Deities were actually ancient gods worshipped across the multiverse – making them a huge threat to Aquaman and the Justice League.
7. ‘Aquaman’ Vol. 5 #31-33 & ‘Aquaman Annual’ #1 – ‘The Crown Comes Down’
So, you always have these storylines about a righteous Aquaman who does the most unselfish things. Well, in ‘The Crown Comes Down,’ Arthur destroys the Crown of Thorns – a magical protective network that hid and protected Atlantis from any outside threat. And he did so just to save Mera – the love of his life.
However, Arthur wanted to take down the Crown to destroy King Corum Rath, a malevolent underwater ruler with vast power. The personal intrigue and the throne battle storyline add a bit of flair to Curry as a character, creating a very popular and unique storyline Aquaman fans should certainly check out.
6. ‘Aquaman’ #1-6 – ‘The Trench’
I loved this one, and so will you – especially if you were a fan of the first Aquaman film. The Trench is a species that rules over one of the underwater Kingdoms, and we saw them appear in the first movie when they attacked Mera and Arthur, who were in the Mariana Trench trying to find the Trident of Atlan.
This was one of the first Aquaman storylines after Flashpoint and the birth of the New 52. To me, it completely changed my perspective on Arthur Curry from being one of the least intimidating Justice League members to one of the best – a true King with the power that needs to be respected and even feared.
Also, some parts of the story are kind of creepy, especially if you’re not that fond of deep waters like myself.
5. ‘Aquaman: The Atlantis Chronicles’ #1-7
‘The Atlantis Chronicles’ is the most unique storyline on this list, as it actually speaks of Atlantis before Arthur Curry was born. In fact, the storyline ends with baby Arthur’s birth.
Reading The Atlantis Chronicles is a great way to learn more about the history, mythology, and lore of DC’s Atlantis. There are elements of horror in here, too, but the thing I love the most is the fresh take on Atlantean mythology the storyline provides. I highly recommend this one!
4. ‘Aquaman: Time & Tide’ #1-4
‘Time & Tide’ came from the very same mind that gave us ‘The Atlantis Chronicles.’ Peter David continues his lore with a storyline heavily relying on the early years of Arthur Curry being Aquaman. Each story gives us an ‘explanation’ of a different feature of Aquaman’s lore, such as the origin of the fins on the back of his calves, the origin of the name ‘Aquaman,’ etc.
The artwork by Kirk Jarvinen will give a feeling like you’re watching a 1980s Disney animated movie, too, and this particular storyline sets up Peter David’s long, 48-issue run of ‘Aquaman solo comics. Many consider this time in Aquaman’s history the best to date.
3. ‘Aquaman’ #40-47 – ‘The Search for Mera’
Many characters in comics have a ton of love interests. Aquaman only has one, and that’s his beloved Mera. I love this aspect of the character, as it presents his maturity and fidelity – and his will to always come through for her – and she for him.
Now, there have been a ton of storylines where someone kidnaps Mera or threatens her in some way to provoke Aquaman, or they simply get separated and try to find their way back to each other, but this run was by far the best story of such nature.
2. ‘Adventure Comics’ #451-455 & ‘Aquaman’ #57-63 – ‘Death of a Prince’
Aquaman isn’t a particularly dark character – which is why this storyline will probably come out as shocking to many readers. However, it’s the best Aquaman storyline I have ever read – at least in my humble opinion.
We witnessed Black Manta – the main villain of the upcoming ‘Aquaman’ sequel film – murder Arthur Curry’s infant son. It came right after a solid run for Arthur where everything seemed to sit in its place – he was the King of Atlantis, kept everything in peace, had a loving wife and a son – and then it all blew up in a matter of a single night.
If you don’t believe me it was good; here’s the proof – DC had to bring back a canceled ‘Aquaman’ solo series just to finish the storyline that began in ‘Death of a Prince.’ It’s one of the most popular Aquaman storylines to date, and for a great reason.
1. ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom Special’ #1
Last but not least, this one is certainly not the best Aquaman comic book of all time – but it’s the best one you should read if you want to prepare for ‘The Lost Kingdom.’
It’s literally a one-shot issue released by DC Comics this October to bridge the gap between the first Aquaman film and the new one coming out in December 2023.
In the issue, Aquaman has to be a king, a Justice League member, and a future husband as he plans his wedding. Meanwhile, Black Manta still hunts Atlantean technology down while Orm plans to escape prison.
It is likely not essential to read this before ‘The Lost Kingdom,’ but it will certainly help understand the film’s plot better for those who do.
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