It wasn't directly this Filmation series that spawned a life-long love of Aquaman. In fact, until watching the DVD, I'd never seen an episode of it. After watching the documentary included in this two-disc set, though, it's clear I owe Aquaman a debt. I was five when I picked up the Big Little Book Aquaman: Scourge of the Seas, a nifty 60's era adventure that clearly only got published because in 1967, kids loved this animated television series.
As Mark Waid points out, what's not to love? Set completely in his own element, Aquaman has a mythic quality. King of Atlantis, protector of the Seven Seas, and rider of a really cool giant seahorse, Aquaman has it all.
In the series, the character flits easily from fantasy to science fiction, battling mystic warriors and alien invaders while manfully flirting with Mera. His rogues' gallery makes it to the small screen, too, most often represented by Black Manta.
Simpler times made him more popular, perhaps. There's not a lot of sophistication to the stories, many of them written by DC comics writers of the time, including the undersung Bob Haney. Like the live-action Adam West Batman series, though, we're going to have to accept that a lot of Aquaman's comics stories possessed the same cheesy qualities.
Despite the simplicity in both storytelling and animation, it's fun. Though as an adult the depth of Warner Brothers' current animated efforts pays off, there's something to be said for just diving in to the heroic action, and it's certainly great for kids. After all, that's who the audience was supposed to be.
But in the featurette, various experts including Waid offer up that Aquaman as a character deserves a lot more credit than he gets. Okay, when you're an adult breathing underwater and talking to fish seems kind of silly, but when you're five (and hey, Waid agrees with me) those powers are utterly believable and cool. Plus, of course, he walks around on the ocean floor, making him super-strong, an element rarely utilized in storytelling.
What rarely gets picked up on is how many taboos Aquaman broke through. The first DC character to get married - of course, the pundits don't even mention Reed and Sue Richards - Aquaman served as DC's first family man. Though that took a darker turn in the seventies, that element resonates in this animated series (and got lost in all the Super Friends iterations), with Aquaman, Aqualad and Mera all forming an unspoken family. Tusky the Walrus even counts as the family dog.
So Aquaman fans unite, pick this set up and infect the next generation. It will make a nifty stocking stuffer.
The Adventures of Aquaman - The Complete Collection (DC Comics Classic Collection)