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Episode Review
History of Aquaman
Quick Facts
Voice Cast

History of Aquaman


    This cartoon series of "Aquaman" is a lot of fun, extremely colorful, with plenty of action.  It's greatest weakness is lack of humor.  Tusky the walrus makes the show.  The other characters don't have much personality.  At least Tusky is cute and amusing.  He's a walrus that acts like a dog.

    Aqualad is an almost totally worthless sidekick in this cartoon.  What the heck is he doing here, anyway?  All he does is get beat up and trapped.  Aqualad spends more time needing rescued than he does helping Aquaman.  There are only a few times where he actually saves Aquaman.  Besides that, he's no Robin or Tonto.

    Mera, the sexy redheaded wife of Aquaman, is little seen and serves little importance in this series.  I love her character in the comics and wish Filmation could have found more for her to do.

    Aquaman's supporting cast consists of his sidekick Aqualad, their seahorses Storm and Imp (respectively), and Aqualad's pet walrus, Tusky.  Mera rarely appears.  The villains change from cartoon to cartoon.  This is good, because we get variety, but most of the villains are really blank and ignorable.  Relatively few villains in Aquaman are true "characters".  Black Manta is easily Aquaman's most popular ongoing villain.  Other standout villains include Fisherman, Queen Vassa, and Torpedoman.

How it all Began (in Comics)

    Aquaman was around in comics long before this cartoon series.  He made his debut in "More Fun Comics" #73 (November, 1941).  Aquaman was created as DC's (then-known as National Periodicals) answer to Marvel Comics' Sub-Mariner, created in 1939.  Arguably, Aquaman is probably the better-known of the two heroes.  However, Aquaman was a slow character to catch on in mainstream popularity.  He was a back-up feature at best in comic books throughout the Golden and Silver Age.  Aquaman didn't have his own title and really didn't appear on covers.  He wasn't as interesting as Superman, Batman, and other superhero characters because he was rather limited.  Aquaman, for the most part, had to stay in the water.  He also didn't have much of a supporting cast for his first few decades, and his villains were pretty lame and ordinary.  Aquaman didn't fight crime and save the world per se; he simply defended his kingdom of Atlantis and the water domain of Earth.

    Things began to change for the Aquaman character in 1959.  His origin story was greatly revised.  For one thing, he actually HAD a backstory, and a real name.  This version of Aquaman became known as the Silver Age version.  In 1960, Aquaman became a founding member of the Justice League of America superhero team.  This is what REALLY jumpstarted his popularity in comics.  Now he was shown on covers and people saw that he could be interesting.  It was just a lark that Aquaman was included in the original team line-up.  In 1960, Aquaman certainly wasn't as popular as his teammates, but DC wanted a well-rounded cast.  Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter presented an interesting variety.  Superman was the strong one, Batman was the non-super one and the realist, Wonder Woman was the woman, Flash was the fast one, Green Lantern was the cosmic hero, and Martian Manhunter was the big, silent one.  Aquaman was truly a unique addition, distinct from the others.

    Thanks to his addition in the Justice League of America team, Aquaman was used more in comic stories.  In 1961, Aquaman was finally given some important supporting cast characters of his own.  It was in this year that his sidekick Aqualad and his love interest Mera was introduced.  It had taken nearly two decades, but Aquaman was finally given his own series with "Aquaman" #1 (January-February, 1962).  In 1964, Aquaman married Mera, and became King of Atlantis.  At this time in comics, no superhero ever married.  Aquaman was the first.  In 1965, Aquaman and Mera had a son named Arthur, Jr., nicknamed "Aquababy".  This was another comic book first.  No superhero ever had offspring before.  Aquaman was truly in a class by himself when it came to superheroes.  He had a family, and he was happy.  He was not a troubled hero like his contemporaries.

    Also important was the addition of interesting foes for Aquaman in the 1960s.  Black Manta became his top villain, his arch-rival.  Other major villains included Fisherman, Ocean Master, Scavenger, and O.G.R.E.

How it all Began (in Cartoons)

    Filmation was given the license by DC to do a Superman cartoon series.  "The New Adventures of Superman" was actually Filmation's first-ever cartoon series, debuting in 1966.  The series was a huge hit and became more popular than anyone ever expected.  It was a half-hour series that featured animated segments of Superman ("The New Adventures of Superman") and Superboy ("The Adventures of Superboy").  It ran from 1966-1967.

    By the time the 1967 season came around, Filmation was granted an hour show.  Superman and Superboy couldn't carry an hour show alone, so another character had to be prominently featured.  Filmation chose Aquaman for a number of reasons.  For one thing, Aquaman wasn't as well-known or as well-used as Superman, so he was really fresh and interesting.  Aquaman also had a pretty strong fan base among comic readers since his 1959 reboot.  He was also an underwater hero, which would be an interesting contrast to Superman, who fought villainy on the surface and in the air.  For all intents and purposes, Aquaman was a cool premise and a new offering to the DC cartoon line-up.

    "The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure" debuted on September 9, 1967 on the CBS network.  It's often thought of as the second season of "The New Adventures of Superman", although it's really its own series.  This cartoon series was another huge, runaway hit!  This is also the one thing most responsible for making Aquaman one of the leading superhero characters in the comic book industry.  The readership of Aquaman comics really jumped, and Aquaman became an extremely popular superhero among mainstream audiences.  People that never read comic books now knew about Aquaman.

    This series also had a rotating cast of superhero cartoon segments of:  The Atom, The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Justice League of America, and Teen Titans.  These characters boasted only three cartoons apiece.  Aquaman had 36 cartoons in all.  New segments of Superman and Superboy were also brought to this series.  "The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure" is responsible for being the animation debuts for nearly all of DCs major superhero characters except for Superman, who debuted in the shorts for Max Fleischer Studios in 1941, and Superboy, who debuted in "The New Adventures of Superman" series a year earlier.  Batman did not make his animation debut until the next year, in "The Batman/Superman Hour".

    As popular as Aquaman cartoons had become, they were only produced for one season (1967-1968).  The Aquaman cartoons from "The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure" were simply repackaged as reruns for "The Adventures of Aquaman" series of the 1968-1969 season.  That was it for Filmation's run of Aquaman.  The next time we saw Aquaman in animation was with Hanna-Barbera's "Super Friends" series in 1973, which went through several incarnations throughout 1986.

After Filmation's Aquaman

    A lot of comic/cartoon buffs saw the "Super Friends" period of Aquaman as a regression.  He wasn't always featured prominently in the cartoons produced by Hanna-Barbera.  Aquaman sort of became sub-standard again.  Unfortunately, Aquaman's receding popularity crossed over into his comic book readership.  Aquaman's character and saga was really tweaked with in the 1980s, and in the 1990s he became he much more serious hero; somewhat psychotic.  It's been kind of "touch and go" with Aquaman ever since.  The "scary" Aquaman has developed some kind of a following, but in the 2000s DC started to make him a "lighter" hero again.  In any case, a lot of superhero historians will tell you that Aquaman's greatest period of popularity was from about 1967-1973.

The Impact of "The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure"

    "The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure" made Aquaman a pop culture icon, but it's also notable for other things.  It kickstarted the acting career of now-legendary Ted Knight.  He had been around in acting for sometime, live-action and voice-over, but with this series he became known as the "unofficial voice of DC".  It was the first thing he became really well-known for.  His accomplishments since then have dwarfed it, but his superhero voiceover work was an important stepping stone.

    In the first incarnation of DC cartoons, "The New Adventures of Superman", Jackson Beck was the narrator.  He had also narrated the classic "Superman" radio show, and Filmation was trying to play off that.  With "The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure", Ted Knight was made narrator full-time.  In the later part of the previous season, he was narrator for "The Adventures of Superboy" segements.  He did voices for many characters in the cartoons of the previous season, and continued to do many more while he was a full-time narrator.  Knight became the primary narrator voice for DC cartoons for years.  He even narrated the first season of "Super Friends", which was produced by Hanna-Barbera for the NBC network.

    Like the previous season of DC cartoons, this season also has "authenticity" to its comic book sources.  Writers from DC comics were brought in to write the cartoons.  The cartoons were pretty faithful to the comics.  There were some elements that had to be added to make them more entertaining as cartoons and "kid-friendly", but they were overall respectable cartoon adaptations of the beloved heroes.

Quick Facts:
  • .Aquaman's nicknames for Aqualad are: minnow, sardine, squirt, and tadpole (the most used).
  •  Mera is never once referred to as Aquaman's wife, nor as the Queen of Atlantis.
  •  In this series, it is never mentioned that Aquaman and Mera have a child.
  •  The true names of Aquaman (Arthur Curry) and Aqualad (Garth) are never mentioned.
  •  Mera appears in only 8 of the 36 cartoons in this series.

"The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure" (1967-1968)
"The Adventures of Aquaman" (1968) [aka "Aquaman"]
Studio: Filmation

Network Aired: CBS

Episode No.
Original Airdate
"Let's go Home!"
Menace of the Black Manta
September 9, 1967
Black Manta
The Rampaging Reptile-Men
September 19, 1967
The Return of Nepto
September 29, 1967
The Fiery Invaders
October 9, 1967
Fiery Invaders
The Sea Raiders
October 19, 1967
Sea Raiders
War of the Water Worlds
October 29, 1967
The Volcanic Monster
November 8, 1967
Volcanic Monster
The Crimson Monster From the Pink Pool
November 18, 1967
Crimson Monster
The Ice Dragon
November 28, 1967
Ice Dragon
The Deadly Drillers
December 8, 1967
Mole Men
Vassa, Queen of the Mermen
December 18, 1967
Queen Vassa
The Microscopic Monsters
December 28, 1967
Black Manta
Onslaught of the Octomen
January 7, 1968
Treacherous is the Torpedoman
January 17, 1968
The Satanic Saturnians
January 27, 1968
The Brain, the Brave and the Bold
February 6, 1968
The Brain
Where Lurks the Fisherman!
February 26, 1968
The Fisherman
Mephisto's Marine Marauders
March 7, 1968
The Trio of Terror
March 17, 1968
The Brain, Black Manta, Queen Vassa
The Torp, the Magneto, and the Claw
March 27, 1968
Torpedoman, Magneto, Claw
Goliaths of the Deep-Sea Gorge
April 6, 1968
Mastadon Man
The Sinister Sea Scamp
April 16, 1968
Sea Scamp
The Devil Fish
April 26, 1968
Black Manta
The Sea Scavengers
May 6, 1968
Sea Scavengers
In Captain Cuda's Clutches
May 16, 1968
Captain Barracuda
The Mirror-Man From Imago
May 26, 1968
The Brain
The Sea Sorcerer
June 5, 1968
The Sea Sorcerer
The Sea-Snares of Captain Sly
June 15, 1968
Captain Sly
The Undersea Trojan Horse
June 25, 1968
Dr. Lampre
The Vicious Villainy of Vassa
July 5, 1968
Queen Vassa
The Programmed for Destruction
July 15, 1968
The Brain
The War of the Quatix and the Bimphars
July 25, 1968
Bimphars, Quatix
The Stickmen of Stygia
August 4, 1968
Stickmen of Stygia
Three Wishes to Trouble
August 14, 1968
Snork the Great
The Silver Sphere
August 24, 1968
Black Manta
To Catch a Fisherman
September 3, 1968
The Fisherman

Episode Review:

1. Menace of the Black Manta:  Black Manta mentally controls a whale to attack Aquaman, then sends out his Manta Men, and finally himself.

    Lots of action in this one.  It's almost hard to keep up.  This is also the first of only a handful of times where we see Mera, the lovely wife of Aquaman.

2. The Rampaging Reptile-Men: 
Reptile-Men plot to take over Atlantis.

    To me, they look more like green catfish men with legs, but whatever.  This is the first time Aquaman utters his "Let's go home" closing in this cartoon series.

3. The Return of Nepto:  Nepto the giant, former ruler of Atlantis, attempts to reclaim his throne with his band of giants.

4. The Fiery Invaders:
  Aliens use fire to attempt a takeover of Earth's oceans.

    This is the first time the plot device of "alien invaders" was used in the Aquaman cartoons, and it would be used a LOT.  The only thing wrong with this idea is that the villains were always anonymous and uninteresting to follow.  Basically, aliens do something, Aquaman beats them up, and they run away.

5. The Sea Raiders:  Aliens shrink Earth's aquatic life to take with them to their home planet.

6. War of the Water Worlds:  A water world of plant-like beings declares war on Aquaman by kidnapping Mera.

    Mera is almost entirely asleep in this episode.  It's a shame that Filmation didn't find more for her character to do.

7. The Volcanic Monster:
  A lava man is released from an underwater volcano and wreaks senseless havoc.

8. The Crimson Monster From the Pink Pool:  A giant, crimson monster rises from a pink pool and threatens Atlantis.

    Aqualad saves Aquaman for a change in just one short scene.  This breaks Aqualad's perfect record of being a worthless sidekick.

9. The Ice Dragon:  A dragon with icy breath causes trouble in Aquaman's domain.

    Aqualad saves Aquaman again, for the second time.  You'd think his stock was rising, but it doesn't last.

10. The Deadly Drillers:  The mole men race creates underwater earthquakes using giant robot ships with diamond drills.

11. Vassa, Queen of the Mermen:  Queen Vassa, in an attempt to become ultimate sea ruler, declares war on Aquaman and kidnaps Mera.

    Vassa is one of Aquaman's few, interesting ongoing villains.  I think the robotic whale ships are cool!

12. The Microscopic Monsters:  Black Manta plots to steal the growth laser Aquaman invented.  As a result, Black Manta creates many giant monsters from small creatures.

13. Onslaught of the Octomen:  The octomen race wants to know Aquaman's secret power of communicating with sea creatures.

14. Treacherous is the Torpedoman:  The deadly robot Torpedoman attacks Aquaman and Aqualad from his sunken ship headquarters.

    Torpedoman is awesome!  I normally don't care for "morphing" villains in any media because they have no limits.  Torpedoman is a rare, transforming villain with defined limitations.  He's always metal, which can sometimes be a disadvantage.  Also, he can only transform into another metal object of about equal size; in this cartoon, an anchor.  I like the idea of Torpedoman.  He's one of the top villains in Aquaman's line-up of foes.

15. The Satanic Saturnians:  The Saturnian aliens, a fish-like race, try to flood Earth by melting the polar ice caps in hopes of a world-wide takeover.

16. The Brain, the Brave and the Bold:  The Brain plots to take over Atlantis.  He's managed to override Aquaman's power of communicating with sea creatures by use of a new sonic device.

    The Brain is a rather boring character.  There's nothing about him that stands out as being particularly more brilliant than any of Aquaman's other enemies.  He's also not an interesting visual.  The Brain is NOT in the same league of cool villains like Black Manta, Fisherman, Queen Vassa, or Torpedoman.

17. Where Lurks the Fisherman!:  The Fisherman plots a takeover of Atlantis, beginning with sabotage of the Aqua Cave.

    The Fisherman is a cool idea for an Aquaman villain.  I'd say he's right up there with Black Manta, Queen Vassa, and Torpedoman for being an interesting character to follow.  He certainly has the most elaborate costume.

18. Mephisto's Marine Marauders:  Mephisto, a devilish villain, plots to put a sleeping gas pellet in the oxygen supply of Atlantis in hopes of an easy invasion.

19. The Trio of Terror:  Three villains, led by the Brain, team up against Aquaman.  To me, it seems rather unlikely that Black Manta would take orders from anyone but, what the hey, it's a cartoon.

20. The Torp, the Magneto, and the Claw:  Torpedoman leads a trio of metallic villains against Aquaman.  The Magneto of this cartoon is NOT to confused with the much more popular villain Magneto from the Marvel Comics publisher.  Torpedoman is cool, but Magneto and Claw seem rather generic.  Magneto has electrical, magnetic powers.  All the Claw has are large metal lobster-like claws.

21. Goliaths of the Deep-Sea Gorge:  A giant monster known as the Mastadon Man terrorizes a village of the Gill-Man people.  I think the Gill-Men are very cool.  They look neat, and I like that they're friendly.  There aren't too many friendly races of creatures in this cartoon series.  I would have liked to see them in more episodes.  The Gill-Men are probably about eight feet tall, half man, and half fish.

22. The Sinister Sea Scamp:  An evil midget inventor called Sea Scamp picks a fight with Aquaman.

23. The Devil Fish:  Black Manta plots to steal the Devil Fish, a highly advanced, experimental craft developed by the U.S. Navy.  One of the cool things about this cartoon is that Aquaman deals with people of the surface world.  That was rare for this cartoon series.  I like it when he interacts with regular humans because it widens the story possibilities.  The idea of the Devil Fish ship was very neat.

24. The Sea Scavengers:  Scavo leads a band of pirates called the Sea Scavengers that terrorizes the ocean first with a giant robot, and then with a thermal gun.

25. In Captain Cuda's Clutches:  Captain Barracuda terrorizes the Jewel People for their jewels atop his giant starfish, Starro.  This was a cool villain idea.  The Jewel People were neat, too.  Captain Barracuda was an interesting experiment.  Maybe another cartoon or two could have fleshed out his character.  Sadly, we'll never know.

26. The Mirror-Man From Imago:  The Brain pits Mirror-Man, a perfect Aquaman clone, against the hero.  It seems almost every superhero, at one point or another, in some form of media, is pitted against his/her exact double.  This was Aquaman's turn, and it was done well.

27. The Sea Sorcerer:  A Merlin-type sorcerer called the Sea Sorcerer wants to be ruler of the water domain.  Some of the villain characters in this series are so bland and lame, but you got to give Filmation credit for trying lots of different things on Aquaman.

28. The Sea-Snares of Captain Sly:  Captain Sly and his blimp crew make war on Aquaman.  I actually find a lot of Aquaman's human enemies more interesting than the various alien and/or subterranean creatures he fought.  This series of Aquaman cartoons didn't give our hero much contact with regular humans until late in its run.  Captain Sly was an interesting attempt.

29. The Undersea Trojan Horse:  Dr. Lampre, another evil undersea genius, attacks Aquaman with robot fish.  I thought the Trojan seahorse was a cool idea.  This also brought out some humor with Mera, as she was trying to drag that "big, beautiful thing" into Atlantis.  Dr. Lampre is another anonymous villain, but the robot fish was an interesting concept.

30. The Vicious Villainy of Vassa:  Queen Vassa is at it again, this time trying to flood the dome that protects Atlantis.  This cartoon has a lot of things going for it.  Vassa is a great villain character.  This is also the most we see of Mera in any cartoon in the series.  Mera actually has a substantial part, and is important to the story.  Better late than never!

31. The Programmed for Destruction:  The Brain has discovered the secret of perfect buoyancy, and has a weapon to make things float.

32. The War of the Quatix and the Bimphars:  Aquaman and Aqualad, at the request of the U.S. Government, is sent into space to explore an all-water planet.  While there, they are caught in the middle of a war between the Quatix and Bimphars.  Quatix are fish-like beings, Bimphars are frog-like beings.

    Unlike some cartoon series, Filmation's "Aquaman" actually started to come into its best ideas towards the END of its run.  Aquaman's interaction with the surface world was quite interesting, and it was novel to send him to an all-water planet in outer space.  It's something they never did before.  Also, it was refreshing to see villains that weren't really villains.  For a change, no one was trying to kill Aquaman and take over Atlantis.  Aquaman was simply stuck in the middle of a feud.  This is certainly one of the best cartoons in the series.

33. The Stickmen of Stygia:  The Stickmen of Stygia try to abduct Aquaman.  More aliens, but the cartoon was still good.  Mera is kayoed by sleeping gas.

34. Three Wishes to Trouble:  Aqualad releases an undersea genie called Snork the Great, who swiftly stirs up trouble.  Snork was another interesting character, because he wasn't an outright villain.  He wasn't such a cardboard caricature of a bad guy like so many of the villains in this series.  Snork, himself, was relatively harmless.  The problems he caused, however, posed the greatest challenge.  It would have been interesting to see him return in another cartoon.

35. The Silver Sphere:  Black Manta wants a magic, silver sphere.

36. To Catch a Fisherman:  The Fisherman kidnaps Tusky the walrus in order to trap Aquaman.

Voice Cast:

Marvin Miller as Aquaman (Arthur Curry)
Jerry Dexter as Aqualad (Garth)
Ted Knight as Black Manta, Imp, Narrator, Tusky, Various Characters
Diana Maddox as Mera, Queen Vassa