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Aquaman Origins

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Aquaman has had his origin story retold differently several times over his many years of publication, with significant variations in continuity.
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Aquaman Origins

Official Name
Aquaman Origins
First appearance

History

Aquaman has had his origin story retold differently several times over his many years of publication, with significant variations in continuity.

Golden Age

In the first version during the Golden Age, Aquaman's first origin story was presented in flashback from his debut, narrated by the character himself:

Quote1 The story must start with my father, a famous undersea explorer — if I spoke his name, you would recognize it. My mother died when I was a baby, and he turned to his work of solving the world's secrets. His greatest discovery was an ancient city, in the depths where no other diver had ever penetrated. My father believed it was the lost kingdom of Atlantis. He made himself a water-tight home in one of the palaces and lived there, studying the records and devices of the race's marvelous wisdom. From the books and records, he learned ways of teaching me to live under the ocean, drawing oxygen from the water and using all the power of the sea to make me wonderfully strong and swift. By training and a scientific secrets, I became what you see — a human being who lives and thrives under the water. Quote2
--Aquaman[src]


Silver Age

The story was completely changed during the Silver Age by writer Robert Bernstein and artist Ramona Fradon, who both established that before his super-heroic career, that Aquaman was Arthur Curry, the son of Tom Curry, a lighthouse keeper, and Atlanna, a water-breathing outcast from the lost, underwater city of Atlantis. Due to his heritage, Aquaman discovered as a youth that he possessed various superhuman abilities, including the powers of surviving underwater, communication with sea life, and tremendous swimming prowess. Eventually, Arthur decided to use his talents to become the defender of the Earth's oceans. Superboy #171, Jan 1971 revealed that he had, in his youth, adventured as "Aquaboy" and met Superboy (Earth's only other publicly active superpowered hero at the time) on one occasion. When Aquaman grew up, he called himself "Aquaman".

Post-Crisis

Aquaman Special 1989

The origin of Aquaman.

The Crisis on Infinite Earths ended the Multiverse and streamlined the entire DC Universe into a new continuity. In 1989, the Legend of Aquaman Special (officially titled as Aquaman Special #1 in the comic's legal indicia, the second Special in back-to-back years) rewrote Aquaman's mythos and origin, though keeping most of his Silver Age history intact. The special was by writer Robert Loren Fleming, plots/breakdown art by Keith Giffen and full pencil art by artist Curt Swan.

The Modern Age Aquaman is born as Orin to Queen Atlanna and the mysterious wizard Atlan in the Atlantean city of Poseidonis. As a baby, he was abandoned on Mercy Reef (which is above sea level at low tide, causing exposure to air which would be fatal to Atlanteans) because of his blond hair, which was seen by the superstitious Atlanteans as a sign of a curse known as "the mark of Kordax." The only individual who spoke up on Orin's behalf was Vulko, a scientist who had no patience for myth or superstition. While his pleas fell on deaf ears, Vulko would later become a close friend and advisor to the young Orin.

As a feral child who raised himself in the wilds of the ocean with only sea creatures to keep him company, Orin was found and taken in by a lighthouse keeper named Arthur Curry who named Orin "Arthur Curry" after himself. One day, Orin returned home and found that his adoptive father had disappered, so he set off on his own. In his early teens, Orin ventured to the far north, where he met and fell in love with an Inupiat girl named Kako. He also first earned the hatred of Orm, the future Ocean Master who was later revealed to be Arthur's half-brother by Atlan and an Inupiat woman (Time and Tide, no. 4). Orin was driven away before he could learn that Kako had become pregnant with his son, Koryak.

Orin then returned to the seas mostly staying out of humanity's sight, until he discovered Poseidonis. He was captured by the city's then-dictatorial government and placed in a prison camp, where he met Vulko, also a prisoner of the state, who taught Orin the language and ways of the Atlanteans. While Orin was there, he realized that his mother was also being held captive, but after her death he broke out and fled. Eventually, he made his way to the surface world, where under the name of "Aquaman" he became one of several superheroes emerging into the public view at the time. Upon his return to Poseidonis, he was made the king, and sometime later he met and married Mera. The Modern Age Aquaman's history is nearly identical to that of the Silver Age Aquaman from this point on.

The publication of writer Peter David's The Atlantis Chronicles #1-7 (Mar-Sep 1990), which told the story of Atlantis from antediluvian times to Aquaman's birth successfully revived interest in the charater. Significantly, it was in this limited series that the ancient chracters Orin (after whom Aquaman was named) and Atlan (who was revealed to be Aquaman's father) were introduced.

Peter David returned to the chracter in another limited series, Aquaman: Time and Tide, a 1993/1994 four-issue series which further explained Aquaman's origins as he finally learned all about the history of his people through the Atlantis Chronicles (presented as historical texts passed down and updated through the centuries). Aquaman learned that his birth name was Orin and that he and his enemy Ocean Master shared the same father, "an ancient Atlantean wizard" named Atlan. This revelation sent Orin into a bout of rage and depression, setting the stage for later confrontations between the two, as it was said in the Chronicles that "two brothers will also battle for control of Atlantis" (the Silver Age Aquaman had always known that the Ocean Master was his half-brother Orm, although Orm's amnesia prevented him from remembering that fact for some time.)

It is later revealed years later, during the Brightest Day event, that during a conversation between Aquaman and the new Aqualad, Jackson Hyde, Aquaman's Silver Age origin has been re-established and he is once again the half-human son of Tom Curry and an Atlantean queen.


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