First Published: January 2008
Contents: Aquaman #7 (January-February 1963) to #23 (September-October 1965); Aquaman stories from World’s Finest Comics #130 (December 1962) to #133 (May 1963), #135 (August 1963), #137 (November 1963), and #139 (February 1964); and The Brave and the Bold #51 (December 1963 – January 1964)
Key Creator Credits: Ramona Fradon, Jack Miller, Nick Cardy, and others
Key First Appearances: Mera, Fisherman, Aquababy
Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Aquaman Vol. 1
Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Aquaman Vol. 3
Overview: Welcome back to the underwater adventures of Aquaman, King of the Seven Seas. With his sidekick, Aqualad, they do their best to protect the oceans (and the Earth) from alien invasions, mad Greek gods, and magical imps. The early stories continue to be one-and-done tales.
The book takes a big turn with issue #11, as we are introduced to Mera, an exiled queen from another dimension. She has the ability to manipulate hard water in both defensive and offensive attacks. Aquaman is instantly smitten by this red-haired beauty, and the two are inseparable, often to the detriment of Aqualad.
This volume introduces the first of Aquaman’s Rogues Gallery. (And yes, it is hard to even type that without snickering just a little bit.) While his list of familiar foes pales in comparison to that of Batman, Superman, or Flash, Aquaman finally gets into the bad-guy business with the introduction of the Fisherman. (Please stay tuned for Showcase Presents Aquaman Vol. 3, as we finally get to see the likes of Ocean Master and Black Manta appear.)
This volume concludes with the birth of Arthur Curry, Jr., otherwise known as Aquababy. With a wife and son at home, that leaves very little time for Aquaman to be hanging out with Aqualad. Hopefully we can resolve that issue in the next volume, too.
Why should these stories be Showcased?: Let’s start with a positive – this is a much easier collection to read compared to Volume 1. It’s still not a great read, especially early on in this volume. What makes this volume interesting is that this is the first character where DC actively started moving a character forward into an ongoing storyline. Mera is introduced in issue #11. Aquaman and Mera are married in issue #18, with his JLA teammates in attendance. Aquababy is born in issue #23. (Remember, Aquaman was a bi-monthly book, so everything is on the up-and-up.) We also see a similar progression with Barry Allen in the pages of The Flash, but Aquaman was the first.
Footnotes: The Brave and the Bold #51 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Hawkman Vol. 1.
If you like this volume, try: the Aquaman series by Peter David from the 1990s. David wrote the 4-issue Aquaman: Time and Tide mini-series in 1993, which explored Aquaman’s origins in relation to David’s previous work, The Atlantis Chronicles. Based on the success of the mini-series, DC launched a new ongoing Aquaman series in 1994. David would write this title for nearly 4 years. This is the notable storyline where Aquaman lost his hand to a piranha attack, and replaced it with a harpoon. The Aquaman presented here is the angry ruler of Atlantis that should be respected and feared, which helped distance the character from the Super Friends version that could only talk to fish. As good as this series is, DC has failed us (to date) with no trades collecting this run. The Time and Tide story can be found in trade, but you will need to dive into the back issue bins to find the ongoing series issues.