Comics, Critique, Geek Culture, Masculinity

DADDY ISSUES #5: Aquaman Can Talk to Fish But He Can’t Raise a Kid

To “celebrate” Father’s Day I’ve written a selection of essays on some of comics’ worst ever dads. From adoptive fathers to absent ones, from rich and fascist to poor and useless, I’ve got ’em all! So strap in, grab your daddy issues, a stiff drink, and get ready to realise that pretty much all of your beloved men in tights are not only terrible people but also terrible parents. Welcome to BAD DADS – COMICS’ WORST FATHER FIGURES.

If only every dad was as good the IRL Aquaman, Jason Momoa. Loving his wonderful children, teaching them to respect their incredible mother, Lisa Bonet, and generally being far too nice and more good looking than any dad should ever be. Alas, that is not the case, for if it were, we wouldn’t be here. Instead, we have our own fathers and their comic book analogs, who’re usually terrible and often disappointing. This week I’m going to look at Arthur Curry and the useless feud that led to his son’s death.

Aquaman Justice League of AmericaAquaman is a strange fellow. Living under the sea, causing chaos, and talking to fish, he hasn’t quite been a serial suspect of bad daddery like some of my other targets. But he did allow his infant son to die whilst fighting his surrogate son and sidekick, Aqualad, to the death. Oh, and he has another son, Koryak, that he never raised at all and eventually banished after spending an antagonistic few years with him as a teen. So, yes, everyone’s favourite merman is actually a deadbeat dad.

The son of a human lighthouse keeper and lost Atlantean princess, Arthur Curry was born with wasteman in his DNA–cos you know human men are terrible–and even though his dad was loving and raised him as a single parent, sadly good fathering was not in his genes. Once he entered the underwater realm that he would come to defend, like many of our superpowered pals, he became consumed with power and dedicated to caring for only one thing: his kingdom.

Aquaman #1 | DC Comics (2011)

Sssh. Yes you do. Don’t pout.

Shockingly, years of talking to fish and ordering about his undersea army did nothing to prepare Arthur for fatherhood. When Mera announced her pregnancy, not much changed for our blonde bequiffed king of the sea. Arthur Curry Jr., or Aquababy as he was known in the comics, spent most of his time in the underwater cave where his parents dwelled or occasionally in the seas of Atlantis having harmless adventures over his twelve-year tenure as Aquaman’s son.

Sadly, Aquababy never reached 12 years old in the comic book world, as Aquaman was cancelled, stalled, and served as a backup story in Adventure Comics. By the time Aquababy was killed off in the series’ pages, he only appeared to be around five or six years old despite having existed in the underwater world of his father for over a decade. It was a strangely fitting and tragic end to a strange and short life.

The fight which lead to Arthur Curry Jr.’s death was against Aquaman’s mortal enemy, Black Manta, who kidnapped Aquababy in an attempt to force Arthur Curry Sr. to fight Aqualad to the death. If that sounds convoluted that’s because it is, and that fact just highlights the futility of the chubby little water baby’s death.

After the death of Arthur Jr, Aquaman’s relationship with his wife Mera–queen of Atlantis and general complete and utter badass–completely fell apart. Mera blamed Arthur Sr for her son’s death and quite rightly so; if Aquaman had kept a closer eye on his child, his mortal enemy or his sidekick none of this would have ever happened. Mera did attempt to save her child, defying all odds to swim through a tear in dimensions to bring back a magical device, which could save her dying child. Alas, when Mera returned Aquababy had already died.

Aquaman #1 | DC Comics (2011)

If you’re still unsure of whether or not Aquaman is not only a terrible dad but also a terrible person, then you will surely enjoy the fact that the reason their marriage inevitably crumbled was not blamed on Arthur’s manslaughter of his baby boy, but in fact due to Mera’s “irrational anger” towards him. Lol, comics are so sexist that even when a man does something as awful as literally killing a child, it’s that child’s mother who the onus falls to when the marriage falls apart. *SIDE EYE EMOJI*

So, yes, the untimely bubble-induced death of his son is clearly Aquaman’s biggest flaw, but alas, not his only one, as Aquababy was not his only son! OH NO! See the king of the sea actually sired another would be heir; this one he just never met, for like most of his son’s formative years. Koryak was raised by his indigenous alaskan mother Kako, until his teenage years when Aquaman returned to Alaska, and Kako revealed to him that Koryak was his son. After the untimely death and almost immediate rebirth of his mother, Arthur and his son returned to Atlantis for a very unhappy family reunion.

Koryak’s time in Atlantis was short, bristling against the authority of the man who had abandoned him. The pair often fought, and Koryak spent a lot of time trying to establish himself as a leader in his own right which would ultimately lead to Arthur having an excuse to finally get rid of one more kid. Koryak decided to help a large group of migrants through the tunnels of Atlantis, releasing an evil prisoner, and causing a massive war. As you can imagine, Koryak was out quicker than Aquaman left Mera for being emotionally unstable.

So, there we have it. Everyone’s favourite real life dad Jason Momoa is playing a very bad dad on the screen, whose history of raising kids is worse than his nation’s history of war crimes–which is very bad too–so yea. Aquaman: just as bad as all of our real life dads.

JOIN US NEXT TIME FOR DADDY ISSUES #6: CYCLOPS HE’S GOT HOT EYEBALLS AND A HOTTER TEMPER.

Series NavigationDaddy Issues #1: Batman – The World’s Finest Terrible Dad >>