NOTE: Spoilers for “Aquaman” no. 25.
The comic book Aquaman is ready for his Hollywood close-up.
When a comic book character has a movie coming out, the live-action and comic book styles will mirror each other as much as they can.
In the pages of DC Comics, Superman and Batman are now trunkless, just like Henry Cavil’s Man of Steel and Ben Affleck’s Batman. Wonder Woman’s comic book look has recently received an armored suit with a leather skirt that takes inspiration from Gal Gadot’s look in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “Wonder Woman” and this fall’s “Justice League.”
Until now, the Aquaman in the comics hasn’t looked anything like the planned on-screen version despite actor Jason Momoa making his debut as the character in 2016’s “Batman v Superman.”
When Momoa was cast as Arthur Curry and the first image of him as Aquaman was revealed in 2015, fans took note that Momoa refused to cut his long grungy locks and beard that he made famous in his role as Khal Drogo in “Game of Thrones.”
There may have been some sun-drenched yellow streaks of hair, but Momoa was channeling an Aquaman style that hasn’t been seen since Peter David’s run writing “Aquaman” comics in the 90s.
Even DC’s recent companywide reboot of its comic books, “Rebirth,” featured the standard short-hair, blond and beardless Aquaman.
All that changed Wednesday when the 25th issue of “Aquaman” hit newsstands in print and digitally.
The cover, illustrated by artist Stjepan Sejic (who also illustrates the interior pages of “Aquaman” no. 25), shows an Aquaman in transition.
On the cover, in the dark edges of the deep sea, a light is shone on Aquaman. The classic orange, green and gold Atlantean armor is there, a symbol of Arthur Curry’s time as the king of Atlantis, but his face is covered in a beard and long hair that would make Aquaman unrecognizable if he were not wearing his famous suit, and that is the point.
Aquaman’s new look, which at first glance could be assumed to be nothing more than syncing up the comic book and movie looks before the character’s big role in “Justice League,” actually plays a vital part in the new Aquaman comic story line “Underworld,” written by Dan Abnett.
In “Underworld,” Aquaman has been usurped as king of Atlantis by Corum Rath, who feels Arthur’s half-breed status (Arthur’s father is human, his mother is from Atlantis) gives Arthur no right to the throne because of his connection to the “surface world.”
Arthur Curry is presumed dead at the orders of Corum Rath. But as the cover to Aquaman no. 25 shows, he’s hiding instead.
Arthur now swims in plain sight in the Ninth Tride of Atlantis – a section of the water world where the Hadalin (a slur given to the people of the Ninth Tride) are assumed to be the lowest of the low Atlantis has to offer.
Refusing to always hide in the shadows, Arthur, inspired by what he knows about fellow Justice League member Batman, takes on a vigilante role in the Ninth Tride to protect its citizens. The locals, convinced he is their old king, back from the dead, begin calling him by his “surface” name, Aquaman.
Word spreads of Aquaman’s presence and both Atlantis’ new King and former queen Mera (who will also appear in “Justice League” and the “Aquaman” movies, played by Amber Heard) eventually find out that Arthur could still be alive.
Corum Rath demands Aquaman be dealt with, wanting no challengers to his new throne, while Mera rushes back to the sea, looking to get the love of her life back. Neither task will be easy as Aquaman is prepared for a fight and meets a potential new love interest. If you’re excited about Momoa’s Aquaman and have been looking for a reason to dive into Aquaman comics, now is the time.
As DC Comics “Rebirth” era continues to produce hits and make everyone forget about the New 52, “Aquaman” is a series at the top of the list of best reads “Rebirth” has to offer.
Just in time for Aquaman’s upcoming pop culture resurgence.
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