Waiting for the Trade – Aquaman

Waiting for the Trade

Aquaman Time and Tide

By Peter David, Kirk
Jarvinen and Brad Vancata

Collects Aquaman Time
and Tide 1-4

 Why I Bought This: I’ve
mentioned before that Aquaman is my favorite of DC Heroes. I’m also a fan of
Peter David’s writing and many consider this to be the definitive take on
Aquaman.

 The Plot – It’s
an origin story covering Aquaman’s childhood, his entry into the world of super
heroics and his first meeting with Ocean Master.  Spoilers ahead.

Chapter 1 – The story is framed by Aquaman recalling in his
life for an Atlantean history book. A battle between Flash and Trickster causes
a disturbance in the sea leading to Aquaman’s involvement. This is his first
meeting with the surface world’s superhuman population. Flash convinces Aquaman
to visit Florida after Trickster’s defeat and he finds the hero worship
annoying.

Chapter 2 – Aquaman recalls being abandoned by his parents
at birth and being raised by dolphins before coming to terms with being a man.

Chapter 3 – As a young
man Aquaman saves an Eskimo girl from a polar bear, whom he soon begins his first
intimate relationship with. A jealous neighbor who will later become Ocean
Master stabs Aquaman’s girlfriend. As she hovers between life and death Aquaman
battles a mystical entity to save her life. He succeeds but her family believes
Aquaman has angered the gods in doing so and he never sees her again.

Chapter 4 – As the King of Atlantis, Aquaman and Mera celebrate
the birth of their son only for Ocean Master to interrupt the proceedings. He
is summarily humiliated by Aquaman but allowed to go free as Aquaman doesn’t
consider him a threat. He returns launching torpedoes at Atlantis, captures
Aquaman and gives his own origin. Aquaman is saved by Mera, but Ocean Master
escapes by killing the crew of his submarine. Recalling this story in the
present for his history book Aquaman realizes from something Ocean Master said
in his origin monologue that Ocean Master is actually his half-brother.

Critical Thoughts: As
someone whose primary familiarity with the DC characters is the Super Friends
and various movies and TV shows over the years, I liked this fine. It’s
certainly an accessible entrance into Aquaman’s origin made all the easier to
read thanks Peter David’s trademark humor: I particularly liked the way he
portrays Aquaman’s conversations with sharks, and in general I think having
Aquaman talk with the fish is a more interesting story-telling approach than
just having him telepathically command them. The second chapter with Aquaman’s
childhood among the fish was my favorite in the book.

I think the redefinition of Aquaman as completely outside human
civilization and the norms of the super hero fraternity is an interesting take on the character; as is the playing up of mystical elements that influence Atlantis.  I can also appreciate David’s ability to
change tone from humor to deadly serious with Ocean Master. Again not being
steeped in DC lore I don’t know if he was Aquaman’s brother before this story
but the realization by Aquaman at the end is a well done character moment. You
cans see David is clearly setting the table for his long-term interpretation of the
character, whom he would write for several years after this.

I also found the art to be quite good throughout in terms of
conveying the story David tells here. 

Grade: B. I won’t
pretend it’s an all-time great story; but it’s a sometimes funny, always
accessible story with a character I like for only a $10 cover price.  You can certainly do worse.