Welcome to Vanishing Point, a monthly column about the more outré continuity problems in the DC Universe, and my personal *non-canon* attempts to make sense out of them. This month's column is:
Rainy days make me nostalgic. This time around, musing upon the heroes this issue is centered upon, I found myself remembering the introduction to the old Superfriends cartoon:
"Gathered together from the cosmic reaches of space are the most powerful forces of good ever assembled Superman Batman and Robin Wonder Woman Aquaman."
That's right, Aquaman. While he doesn't have an anniversary this year [his first appearance in 1940] he's always been considered one of the core heroes of the DCU. Even today, he's considered worthy of inclusion in the "big guns" JLA. But to a lot of people, who don't realize the rich history people like Keith Giffen and Peter David have given him, he's still that "guy in the orange shirt who talks to fish".
Well, this month, I'm going to correct that assumption [for the 3 people who actually read this column ^_^].
It all starts with the sorcerer Arion. Thousands of years ago, he defended the land of Atlantis from all its enemies, including his own brother Garn. But when Atlantis sank, he abandoned the city. Another city, now called Poseidonis, was further inland, and survived.
Years pass. Orin is king, while his brother Shalako is high priest of the gods. To protect the city from savage primitives, they dome the city. The leader of the savages soon sues for peace, to which Orin is amenable, but Shalako uses dark sorcery to slay him, and the savages slay revenge.
A meteor is discovered, and while Orin tries to install a laser cannon to repel it, the attacks of the others make this difficult, and as it collides with the Earth, Poseidonis joins Atlantis on the seabed. Civil war breaks out, and Shalako takes his followers to the sunken city of Tritonis, using dark sorcery to dome the city. Cabin fever soon sets in, so Posedeidonian scientists create a serum which allows them to live underwater.
Shalako cannot stand the fact that his brother has trumped him again, and curses the serum that is given to his people, turning them into mer-people. His treachery is revealed by his son, and Shalako is slain. As more time passes, it becomes clear that the people are becoming fully aquatic. But first his daughter Cora is getting married.
But the night before the wedding, Dardanus, last surviving son of Shalako, rapes her. The baby, Kordax, is born in secret, blond but scaled. After attempting to mutilate his mother during nursing, he is exposed to the waves, but survives with the aid of Dardanus..and his own powers of telepathy. When he grows to manhood, he returns to the city of his birth, to claim his throne.
Once again, it is war. Kordax, commanding the creatures of the deep, holds his own, but soon the primal instincts of the sharks cause them to break free. Now it's the humans against the sharks, although the leaders of the army continue their solo combat. Dardanus kills Orin, the spirit of Shalako kills Dardanus, and the spirit of Orin begins his eternal combat against his brother.
The Poseidonians are victorious, and Kordax is exiled. Many years pass. The sorcerer Atlan, wandering the surface, discovers that there are still humans living on the surface. His father Honsu, one of the ten rulers of the combined cities, decides it must be war. His son [and Atlan's brother] Haumond disagrees. So does Shayera, leader of the pacifist Idyllists. With her people, she voluntarily accepts exile [but not before receiving the message "Beware of babes with purple eyes"from Atlan.]
The war goes well, until they reach the sunny lands of the Egyptians, where a combination of heat and archery repel them. Haumond is captured, but is saved by an Atlantean descendant of one of Orin's scouts.
Honsu, however, continues onward, finally meeting the Athenians. Weary of endless battle, Honsu offers single combat with his most militant son, Kraken, to settle the issue. When, by mishap, Kraken loses, Honsu is despondent even more so when he realizes the champion of the Greeks is his other son, Haumond, who's loss he had never grieved for. Honsu leaves, a conqueror no more.
Many more years pass. Atlanna, queen of Poseidonis, desires a child. Unable to conceive with her husband, she has what she believes to be a dream of the sorcerer Atlan, who promises her a child, and says:
he will be strong, and proud
king of the sea
He will know joy and sorrow, darkness and light,
for the blood of Orin and Shalako will run through him. From Orin's
line, he will have wisdom and leadership. He will be a great warrior.
From Shalako's line, he inherits dominion over the sea creatures. He
will leave Atlantis and return. He will produce a child with a woman
from the world of the Dark Gods
and they will both leave him. He
will battle the inner uncertainty caused by his mixed heritage. And
he will battle his half-brother, whom I shall also sire, with a woman
of the surface. For two brothers must always struggle for Atlantis.
That is fate. The brothers will meet and battle -- the surface brother
Orm and your son, whom you shall name Orin. They will battle many times.
And when they battle for the final time, the outcome will determine
the ultimate destiny of Atlantis
Either it will rejoin the surface
or be forever destroyed."
But like Kordax before him, this blond child, Orin survives. Raised first by dolphins, thanks to his genetic ability to speak to sea life, in about his ninth year he is discovered by a lighthouse keeper who gave him his own name, Arthur Curry. Years later, after Curry had fled upon discovery by Altanteans, Arthur travels north, meeting and falling in love with an eskimo named Kako, but was driven away before he knew she was pregnant with his son, who would eventually be named Koryak. Funny thing, though..her second cousion is named Orm..although he's eventually better known as the Ocean Master.
Searching for his birthplace, Arthur is captured and made prisoner by soldiers from an oppressed Atlantis, who give him a prison uniform composed of a scaled orange shirt and green pants. From an also captured Vulko, he learns the Atlantean language and the identity of his mother [now a fellow inmate] . Upon her death, he broke free and escaped. Returning to the surface, he was introduced to hero-hood by the Flash, eventually joining the original JLA. Returning to Atlantis, he was also able to claim his birthright as king, though he was surprised to discover that Vulko had led the overthrow of the oppressive religious regime, inspired by Aquaman . He met Aqualad, his friend and almost-son, who had been exiled from the land of the Idyllists due to his purple eyes. He married Mera, a queen from another dimension, and had (another) son with her.
Times changed. He lost his son to a vindictive Black Manta, and lost the trust of Aqualad at the same time . After rocky times, starting with Aquaman's quest for revenge on Manta and ending with his absence when his city was attacked and conquered, Aquaman lost his queen, his throne, and his hand. His son Koryak, returning from the surface, took over as king.
In madness and grief, he was slowly brought back into the world of heroes by Dolphin and Aqualad [who had discovered his mystical heritage, and now went by the name Tempest]. After learning the secret of Poseidonis, [that it was settled on an alien spacecraft.] he fought off an alien invasion by uniting Earth's underwater heroes against them. He met his father, Atlan, and learned more about his mystical heritage, as well as his true name, Orin.
And then he went mad once again, after his adoptive dolphin mother was killed by a Japanese dolphin hunter seeking revenge. He lost control of his powers, misusing them, endangering the world enough for the Earth Elemental, Swamp Thing, to step in.
After finding himself again, he asked the sea life to forgive him, and accept him again as their King. In his insanity, though, the sea had fled to the protection of Poseidon, and he had to fight Poseidon's son Triton to regain his status. When he won, a ticked off blinded him. Wandering the sea, he stumbled onto Animal Man who taught him how to control his newfound sonar abilities and to reach into "The Clear", which increased his telepathic abilities. He then returned home to greet his returning people, who made him king once more. [Koryak was not very good at the job].
However, one aftereffect of the war is that Poseidonis has now surfaced. A brief fling with tourism proves disastrous, but it is the actions of Triton, son of Poseidon, that causes true grief. He slays his father, gaining his power, and attacks Atlantis. The city is sunk again, and Atlan is apparently killed [yah, he was still around. Personally, I doubt he's dead.].
Events come to a head. Aquaman sacrifices himself to recover the shade of Poseidon from the Greek Underworld, allowing the sea god to regain his power and execute his treacherous son. Disgusted by Triton's actions, Poseidon gives his trident to Aquaman, which qualifies as Aquaman's semi-official anoitment as true King of the Seas.
There were indications that Aquaman might eventually become the new Water Elemental, much as his Eskimo lover became the Fire Elemental, but it now appears that he instead may soon remarry Mera, who has a blond son [cursed with rapid aging] who *may* be Orin's. He rather hopes the boy isn't since with Koryak around brother may fight brother again.
Special thanks to Laura Gjovaag, whose Aquaman page at http://www.eskimo.com/~tegan/ac/index.html provided much of this material.
All characters are DC Comics
This column is © July, 1998 by Mario Di Giacomo.