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CSBG Archive

The Greatest Aquaman Stories Ever Told!

Every day in November we will reveal the greatest stories ever told starring a particular character or written/drawn by a particular creator (and throughout the month, you’ll get daily chances to vote for NEXT week’s lists). These lists are voted on by YOU, the reader!

Here is the list of characters/creators featured so far (along with the rules on how to vote).

Today’s list is the Greatest Aquaman Stories Ever Told!


Sorry for the delay! The Grand Comic Book Database was down, so it was quite a difficult task getting all the covers together!

10. Brightest Day #0-24

In this series, Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi deal with Aquaman getting his life back into order upon his resurrection, as well as getting involved with the search for a mysterious new Aqualad.

9. Aquaman Special #1 “The Legend of Aquaman”

After the previous Aquaman revamp, Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming had the task of revamping the character once again, this time with a brand new origin! This one-shot detailed the completely new take on Aquaman’s past (including his outfit now being a prison uniform!). The art by Giffen, Curt Swan and Eric Shanower (layouts, pencils and inks, respectively) was stunning.

8. Justice League of America Annual #2

Gerry Conway had Aquaman pull off one of the more badass superhero moves of the mid-1980s. Sick of what he felt was a group of Justice Leaguers not willing to devote their full time to the League, Aquaman disbands the Justice League and reforms it with only those heroes willing to work full-time for the team. A shocking move for the Sea King (shortlived, true, and the result was JLDetroit, but in this Annual he was awesome).

7. Atlantis Chronicles #1-7

Peter David and Esteban Maroto gave us a thrilling tour through the history of Atlantis with this epic maxi-series that ended with the birth of Aquaman.

6. Aquaman #1-2, 0

Peter David finally got the chance to tell the ongoing adventures of Aquaman and right off the bat he made sure everyone knew that things were going to be a lot different in this series, as Aquaman loses one of his hands!! This Aquaman was noted for his rough attitude, but the result was an engaging, spirited adventure series (with great supporting characters, as this opening arc showed by featuring Aqualad heavily and re-introducing the awesomeness that is Dolphin).

5. Aquaman #1-4

The late, great Neal Pozner and Craig Hamilton spun this beautiful looking series that gave Aquaman his first solo series in years. In it, Hamilton debuted a brand-new costume for Aquaman. While it was a short-lived change for Aquaman, it was popular enough that a similar costume was later given to Aqualad when he became Tempest.

4. Aquaman: Time and Tide #1-4

With Atlantis Chronicles telling the story of Atlantis up until Aquaman’s birth, Peter David then picked up the tale from there with this new take on Aquaman’s early years. This set up a great many plots in Peter David’s upcoming Aquaman ongoing series. The art was by Kirk Jarvinen and Brad Vancata.

3. Aquaman #15-20 “American Tidal”

In this striking storyline, half the city of San Diego is sunken underwater with hundreds of thousands of its residents mysteriously mutated into being unable to breathe above water. Aquaman investigates (and also meets a new member of his supporting cast, a young woman destined to be the new Aquagirl) and eventually sets up shop in “Sub Diego” as his new homebase. Just like Batman patrols Gotham City, so, too, does Aquaman patrol Sub Diego! It was written by Will Pfeifer and drawn by Patrick Gleason and Christian Alamy.

2. Aquaman #40-47 “The Search for Mera”

Steve Skeates and Jim Aparo began their acclaimed run on Aquaman with an epic storyline featuring Aquaman searching for his kidnapped wife while the supporting cast back home (Aqualad, Aquagirl and Vulko) are dealing with the machinations of an evil politician to use Aquaman’s absence to take over Atlantis! Skeates juggled the various sub-plots of these issues well and Aparo, well, Aparo is Aparo. He is great.

1. Adventure Comics #451-455, Aquaman #57-63

Likely the most famous Aquaman storyline of all-time, David Michelinie and Jim Aparo told the story of how the evil Black Manta killed Aquaman and Mera’s son and the effect that such an act (which was particularly shocking in the context of when it came – when few major characters died, and especially not BABIES, for crying out loud!) had on Aquaman, his wife and his life undersea. It was powerful enough that it soon launched Aquaman into his own ongoing series.

Okay, that’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let me know!


Still love re-reading that Neal Pozner and Craig Hamilton series. Great list of Aquaman stories!

Surprised to see #8 here.
It’s a very mediocre book, while there are far more compelling stories with Arthur like Emperor Aquaman, Brave and the Bold #32 and the Triton story in PAD’s book.

Overall expected choices, though many better stories were left out.

Great list! I would have liked to see the Rick Veitch run on there, and definitely more of Peter David’s work with the character (not only more of his stories, but also higher up on the list!). But I think this is a strong collection of Aquaman tales!

was hoping at least some of Peter Davids run made the list. that plus the death of aqua baby which showed that black manta is aquamans version of the joker. and also a little creepy for its time. though surprised the formation of jla detroit made the list.

This was a lot of fun!!!

Only a few points of contention:

#9 The Legend of Aquaman was somewhat abysmal (both art and writing), especially since it almost immediately negated the brilliant work done by Pozner/Hamilton in the Thierna Na Oge mini-series (#5).

I also listed Blackest Night ( for its establishing of Mera as an individual character & force to be reckoned with and for its epic conclusion with Aquaman leading the 12 returned from the dead), Justice by Alex Ross for its BAMF portrayal of the Sea King, and the Waterbearer storyline that Launched Aquaman Vol 6. for its majestic, original take on Aquaman and for its beautifully rendered art.

I get not liking The Legend of Aquaman for negating the earlier stuff, but boy, Giffen/Swan/Shanower did some purty artwork!

How many more twitter followers will you need to start another one of these months? I’ll miss this when it’s over, and I need more lists of comics to catch up on!

Well, it was 3,000 to get it the first time, so I guess 6,000. ;)

The Aquaman Shrine

November 28, 2011 at 7:21 am

Great work, Brian!!!

Care to let us in on any “honorable mentions” of Aquaman stories that almost made the list?

And for new fans of the Sea King please visit is at http://www.aquamanshrine.com/ for “All Things Aquaman” on the web, facebook & twitter @AquamanShrine

I don’t have the tallies handy, but I believe the rest of the top fifteen were (in no particular order)a couple of Skeates/Aparo stories from the end of their run (“California is sinking!” and “The Creature That Devoured Detroit”), DeMatteis/Giordano’s short run, Johns/Reis’ new series and hmmm….I’m trying to think what closed out the Top 15…I think maybe the conclusion of Jurgens’ run.

I would have thought there would be more Peter David on the list. I certainly voted for his stuff a bunch, particularly the genesis crossover issue with the para-demon (best done in one aquaman story ever, and certainly the best of story of that crossover.)

Does #1 rank so highly because it’s so iconic and important and shocking a milestone in Aquaman’s continuity, or is it because it’s actually the best written book of the bunch? Because even though I haven’t read it, I have a lot of trouble imagining David Michilinie outwriting a lot of the other writers on this list.

I don’t know much about Chuck Patton, but based on that cover up there he drew an incredible “Big 7″ Justice League. Did he get a chance to draw much of the “big gun” JLA before having to do the Detroit League?

A little surprised to see the American Tidal storyline so high. I really liked it (it got me reading Aquaman again for the firs time in about a decade) but I always got the impression that it wasn’t very well-regarded by fandom in general.

It’s too bad we couldn’t vote for the Aquaman episodes of The Brave and the Bold cartoon. That will always be my favorite interpretation of Aquaman.

I’m surprised at how high high American Tidal made it. I expected Time & Tide a bit higher, but I suppose the trades been out of print for a while.

I’m a little disappointed at the “safeness” of this list. It seems like it was voted on more by people that haven’t read a lot of Aquaman. All of the selected stories seem more like things that are easily recallable (the one where his son dies, the one where he loses his hand, the one where he’s resurrected, the one where his origin was redone, the other one where his origin was redone, etc.), as opposed to stories that are necessarily “good.” Which isn’t to say the things here are bad, it just feels more like this is a list of the ten most famous or notable Aquaman stories than the ten BEST Aquaman stories.

For example, it seems weird to me that the first 14 issues of Aquaman/Atlantis that Peter David wrote are all here, but nothing from the next 45 (which are arguably better, even if less noteworthy). I agree with a previous commenter that Aquaman #37–the Genesis crossover with a Parademon gaining a conscience–is the high point of Peter David’s run on the character.

It’s also disappointing to see nothing here by Rick Veitch or even Kurt Busiek.

@ Third Man:

I think you are right in the stories you’ve being identified as great Aquaman stories, however you do realize that the Top 10 was a popularity poll, so it of course includes the most popular and well-known stories to the comic-reading masses (as opposed to obscure gems like the ones you identified).

I personally loved the Waterbearer story-line and wish it made the list but am not surprised Kurt Busiek’s run did not because regardless of the strength of his writing, the Sword of Atlantis was never accepted as valid by most hardcore Aquaman fans.

Mera is so badass, she can even make tears drip down her face while she’s under water!

T: You were expecting, perhaps, Peter Benchley as the top writer?

Well played, Thok. Well played.

Thanks abunch for answering my request Brian. Glad to see Death of a Prince is #1 because I just ordered it the other day.

While I did enjoy Will Pfeifer’s brief run, it should not be as high as it is. It seems so random. Peter David’s run for me was amazing and IMHO should be higher on the list. :)

@ Third Man,

I think this is actually the benefit of these polls and it is where the CSGB format actually works best. The voting results are a good, safe starting point for readers who may be uninitiated to a character or creator. The comments section provides a great format for individuals to expand upon the results and provide some hidden gems and underappreciated favorites as recommendation for the casual reader who may have read the popular stuff and are now looking for more.

This is why I have been posting my top ten lists on the threads for those which I voted for – not because of some inflated sense of individual self-importance, but because there might be someone out there who is reading that page, has read most of the top ten, and might be looking for another recommendation or two. It is precisely how I stumbled upon CSBG a couple years ago, and why I immediately saw it as a wonderful resource – because of the format, not in spite of it.

And I still see it in that way. I may have read every damn Silver Surfer story ever published and get excited to vote on that poll, but at the same time, I know next to nothing about Aquaman, so here I am, excited to see where I should start… and then, where to go from there.

I really enjoyed the Aquaman Special by Curt Swan, and was surprised the 5 issue limited series also by Curt Swan didn’t make an appearance on the list. The 6 books all together are really excellent.

It’s a shame the short-lived 13 issue series that came out prior to the Peter David limited series didn’t make an appearance. Although it had its faults I really enjoyed the series, and Kevin Maguire’s covers were excellent!

Peter David’s Time and Tide limited series is IMO extremely overrated and lazy borrowing a lot of ideas from the Tarzan mythos. I also really disliked David’s “I’m not really Aquaman, I’m Wolverine” approach to the character and the whole “hook” crap so I was really pleased to not see it on the list.

Finally, Aparo is a god. Of course he should be at number 1. But Curt Swan should be at number 2.


November 29, 2011 at 7:01 am

I think the reason that Peter Davids run isnt represented more is 2-fold. First the stories were either shorter self contained and second there are no collections of them other than Time & Tide. I love the Atlantis open to tourists and especially the Parademon Genesis story. I collected the series from about 11 until Erik Larsen took over and ruined everything (and I really really like Larsen), and those are the stories that really stick out. Once again I cannot recommend that Parademon story enough, Genesis was awful, but that story was awesome.

I’m disappointed with this list. I agree with third Man in that most of these stories are more about reboots and shake-ups than being the better Aquaman stories. I never liked PAD’s take on Aquaman. But I think that that version was such a different take on the character I wasn’t used to.

While I liked the Justice League Annual 2, it was more about reorganizing the team. I voted for the following 4 part story which had the group in action. This was the first time I read a story in which Aquaman fought outside the water efficently. Also it was the first time he used his telepathy on a person.

Another one of my picks that I thought should have made the list was Identity Crisis. The one with Dr. Light. No, not that one, the one in Justice League America 122. An older book but one I’d recommend if anyone’s interested. It’s a self contained issue.

Add me to the group that thinks this list is more the better known stuff, not the better stuff.

I think the #1 slot is remembered for shock value, despite some rather pedestrian writing. And the Giffen/Fleming story was just gratuitous retconning, though with nice art.

I also wouldn’t count Atlantis Chronicles as an Aquaman story, but it’s pretty good. Maroto FTW!

My top 4 were *all* Skeates/Aparo stories. Dick Giordano edited some wild stuff back then!

Did the one where he fought the giant rabbit get votes?

The best stuff from PAD is not even there

Agreed. Very generic, safe and mediocre list.
Aquaman fighting Gods and Death (PAD’s run) > Aquaman nearly doing nothing and treated with no respect UNLESS he is underwater (Justice League annual and most of his classic stories)
Have to say one of the worst lists of TG_SET so far (IMO of course).

Of course DC policy of not reprinting ANYTHING from the PAD run didn’t help.

Well said, ookerdookers

Having just reread the Michelinie run a few years back, I’ll say it deserves its spot. I would have favored some of Veitch’s run too, though.
While I wouldn’t necessarily nominate them as best (though I enjoy them more than PAD’s time, which didn’t work for me), I do think the 60s Aquaman run is noteworthy for giving Mera a role as equal partner in crime fighting. She comes off a lot better than many of Hero’s Girlfriend/Wives of the era.

Great List, except I really didn’t like the Legend of Aquaman Special.

The whole prison uniform thing was a cool idea, but it made everyone in the prison look like Aquaman cosplayers and came off kinda awkwardly, plus the story wasn’t that great from what I remember but it was ages ago that I read a copy.

Anyway, its cool to see American Tidal up there, thats what got me into Aquaman in the first place…

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