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Aquaman Reading Order, the King of Atlantis

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Now one of the stars of the DC Extended Universe where he is played by Jason Momoa, Aquaman was often overshadowed or overlooked in the past. Yet, Aquaman is one of the major and more enduring heroes of DC, having made his debut in More Fun Comics #73 in November 1941, one month after Wonder Woman‘s first appearance.

Created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger, the Golden Age Aquaman was quite different from the hero we know today. First, this version of the character – known today as the Aquaman of Earth-2 – was not a true denizen of Atlantis. He was the human son of a scientist and undersea explorer who discovered the ancient city of Atlantis and dedicated his life to discovering all its secrets. As he built himself a house here, he taught his son how to survive and breathe underwater and how to use all the power of the sea to make him strong and swift. and he was erased from existence with Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Though revised a few times since then, Aquaman’s origin story was updated to make him Arthur Curry, half Atlantean, half-human, and undersea royalty. Throughout the years since his debut and his gained popularity from his 1960s animated appearances, DC worked at making Aquaman more powerful and edgier, but failed to give him a more defined role and purpose, not knowing really what to do with the character in the (very) long run.

If Aquaman was more of a joke for some people, the character had lived some great, strange, colorful, and exciting adventures, gaining a devoted fanbase, and more recently more respect as one of the top-tier DC superheroes. Long live the King!

Aquaman Reading Order:

Introduction to the World of Aquaman

Before exploring the reading order of the different eras of Aquaman in the DC Universe, maybe you just want to get acquainted with the character. Here are two books that are collecting stories from the past and almost present.

  • Aquaman: A Celebration of 75 Years.
    Collects Adventure Comics #120, #174, #220, #260, #266, #269, #444, #452, #475; Aquaman (1962-) #1, #18, #40; Justice League Of America Annual #2; Aquaman (1986-) #3; Aquaman (1991-) #2, #34; Aquaman (1994-) #4, #17; And Aquaman (2011-) #1, #43.
  • Aquaman: 80 Years of the King of the Seven Seas
    Collects stories from Aquaman #0-37, JLA: Our Worlds at War #1, Aquaman #17, Outsiders: Five of a Kind – Metamorpho/Aquaman #1, Adventure Comics #120-137, 232-266, 269-475, More Fun Comics #73, Aquaman #11-35, 46-62, Aquaman #1; Aquaman #1; Aquaman Special #1 and Aquaman #25.

For a selection of Aquaman stories, check out our Best Aquaman Comics to Read.

Aquaman

I. Golden Age Aquaman (1941-1956)

There is no collection dedicated to this version of Aquaman, as this period is simply under-collected. Following are Aquaman’s appearances during that time:

  • More Fun Comics #73-107 (1941-946)
  • Adventure Comics #103-228 (1946-1956)

A few issues can be found in Aquaman: A Celebration of 75 Years.

Though part of the Silver Age, the following issues (not collected) still depicted the Golden Age version of the character:

  • Adventure Comics #229-259 (1956-1959)

Aquaman

II. Silver Aquaman  (1956-1985)

In the late 1950s, elements and changes were made to the character, with a new origin story. For this reason, it is considered that The Silver Age Aquaman made his first appearance in Adventure Comics #260, in May 1959 — despite the fact we’re already a few years in the Silver Age era. We learned then that Aquaman is Arthur Curry, son of lighthouse keeper Tom Curry and a woman named Atlanna, exiled Queen of Atlantis. Destined to rule the seven seas, Arthur learned to control his powers and grew up to become Aquaman.

After years as a backup feature in DC’s anthology titles (Adventures Comics, Showcase, Detective Comics), Aquaman finally headlined his own title at the start of 1962. The series run continuously until 1971.

Justice LeagueLess than a year before the launch of the Aquaman series, the Justice League was making its debut in the pages of The Brave and the Bold #28. Aquaman was a founding member of the team and appeared in the majority of the Justice League issues during the Silver Age. For the completist, just read the entire series from #1 to #243, where he quits the team. See our Justice League reading order for more information.


As we entered the Bronze Age, Aquaman Vol. 1 was stopped and Arthur Curry made his return to Adventure Comics, from 1974 to 1980, with a short interruption in 1977 when he left the title when his own series was resumed in 1977.

  • Aquaman: Death of a Prince
    Collects Aquaman #57–63; Adventure Comics #435–437, 441–455. Aquaman was canceled with issue #63.
  • Adventure Comics #459-466, not collected.
  • World’s Finest Comics #262-264, not collected.
  • Adventure Comics #475-478, not collected.

In the 80s, Aquaman jumped from Adventure Comics to Actions Comics backups, before the DC World was transformed with Crisis On Infinite Earths (see reading order).

  • Action Comics #517-521, 527-530, & 535-540, not collected.
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths
    Collects Crisis on Infinite Earths #1-12.

Aquaman

III. Aquaman during The Modern Age

Aquaman’s origin story was once again revised in the Modern Age. He is born as Orin, son of Queen Atlanna and the mysterious wizard Atlan. Abandoned as a baby, he grew up as a feral child before being found and taken by Arthur Curry, who named Orin after himself. Arthur would learn later the truth about the history of his people and his own family.

Aquaman: the miniseries

Crisis on Infinite Earths wasn’t even finished when Aquaman was making his comeback in the first of several miniseries that defined his first Post-Crisis years. Part of his origin story was rehashed, and his short-lived deep-sea blue “camouflage” costume was introduced. the Ocean Master’s origin was also retold, as some mystical elements were added to the Aquaman mythology.

Aquaman by Peter David

With The Atlantis Chronicles, Peter David wrote the complete story of Atlantis from antediluvian times to Aquaman’s birth. It was the first story that lays the foundation of a new era for Aquaman, as the writer rewrote the character’s origin story in the miniseries Time and Tide before becoming the sole writer of the new ongoing Aquaman title. For a better experience, we advise reading the Death of a Prince arc before jumping into volume 5, if it’s not already done as this story directly influences events in this volume.

Grant Morrison JLA Reading Order - JLA LogoAquaman made some appearances in Justice League America and Justice League Europe, though nothing compared to what was to come for him when the JLA was reformed by writer Grant Morrison and artist Howard Porter. This new JLA is launched around Aquaman (vol. 5) #25, and The King of Atlantis appeared in the majority of issues. See our Grant Morrison’s JLA reading order for more information.

The end of Aquaman Vol. 5

Peter David left after issue #46 and was succeeded by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning for a short stint, before Erik Larsen took over for a year, followed by Dan Jurgens. And none of those issues are collected to my knowledge, but are available on digital.

  • Aquaman vol. 5 #47–49 (by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning)
  • Aquaman vol. 5 #50–62 (by Erik Larsen)
  • Aquaman vol. 5 #63–75 (by Dan Jurgens)

Interlude with the JLA

From 2001 to 2003, Aquaman had no regular series of his own, but it doesn’t mean he wasn’t affected by some major events. Still a member of the JLA (though reluctantly), he fought against Imperiex during the Our Worlds at War event, during which Aquaman and the city of Poseidonis disappeared. Next came The Obsidian Age where the JLA goes back in time to retrieve Aquaman, Mera, and the lost Atlanteans.

Aquaman Vol. 6: The Sub-Diego era

Not long after the events in JLA, a new Aquaman series was launched written first by Rick Veitch (#1-12) who steer Aquaman in a more mystical direction. He was followed by John Ostrander (#13-14), then Will Pfeifer (#15-22) who left his mark by sinking San Diego, Tad Williams (#23-29), Marc Guggenheim (#30-31), and John Arcudi (#32-39).

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis

As Orin goes through some changes, writer Kurt Busiek took over the series renamed Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis. The title now features Arthur Joseph Curry, also known as the second Aquaman or fake Aquaman. He took on the role after the original Aquaman disappeared following the events of Infinite Crisis.

A sort-of conclusion is given to the character of Arthur Joseph Curry in Titans Vol. 2 #15, even if he doesn’t appear in the issue.

Blackest Night/Brightest Day

The Prophecy of the Blackest Night has come to pass—a mysterious force is raising deceased heroes and villains into an army of undead Black Lanterns! And after the Blackest night came Brightest Day… Though those events will make more sense if you are familiar with the Lanterns and Geoff Johns’s run, they also have major ramifications for Aquaman.

Aquaman

IV. Aquaman New 52 Reading Order (2011-2016)

Following the history-changing events of Flashpoint, a new era was launched with New 52 for DC heroes. Geoff Johns took on writing duties for Aquaman, making his run a great starter point for new readers. Aquaman’s status as the son of Tom Curry and Atlanna is restored, and the character deals with the public’s perception, which views him as a lesser superhero.

During this era, Arthur Curry is still a founding member of the Justice League also written by Geoff Johns, where he plays a supporting role. See our Justice League New 52 reading order for more information.

Geoff Johns’ run on Aquaman has also been collected in Omnibus:

Aquaman and the Others! Spinning out of Aquaman was the title Aquaman and the Others where the King of Atlantis re-joins his old team, the mysterious, loose-knit group of characters simply known as the Others. Written by Dan Jurgens and penciled by Manuel Garcia.

Geoff Johns’s run ended, but Aquaman continued under the helm of Jeff Parker (#26-40), Cullen Bunn  (#41-48), and Dan Abnett (#49-52).

Aquaman

V. Aquaman Rebirth Reading Order (2016-2020)

Another DC relaunch (click here to learn more about it). This time, the idea was to restore elements from the DC Universe before Flashpoint, while also maintaining the continuity of the New 52. Naturally, Arthur Curry is still a member of the Justice League. See our Justice League Rebirth reading order for more information.

Aquaman by Dan Abnett

Dan Abnett, who had taken over the title for the last three issues of The New 52, stayed on the title, making it new reader-friendly, and quite compelling. As Aquaman strives to improve his public image, dark forces rise from the depths to crush his hopes and dreams…

Batman who laughs Icon Reading OrderDark Nights: Metal! (Optional) Investigating a strange metal, Batman discovers the existence of a dark multiverse and eventually releases seven evil versions of himself into his own universe. That event is led by Barbatos, the dark god who plans to unleash darkness across every Earth. Stopping him will change the DC Universe forever. Though Aquaman is a supporting player in this event, the conclusion set up his next story arc.

For a little dose of fun, don’t forget to check out Aquaman/Jabberjaw Special #1, a DC/Hanna Barbera cross-over where Aquaman meets another master of the sea–Jabberjaw

Aquaman by Kelly Sue DeConnick

A new era for the Sea King begins with Kelly Sue DeConnick at the helm. Arthur has lost his memory. And his kingdom. Can he find the hero within to reclaim his throne?

Batman who laughs Icon Reading OrderDark Nights: Death Metal! (optional) When the DC Universe is enveloped by the Dark Multiverse, the Justice League is at the mercy of the Batman Who Laughs. Humanity struggles to survive in a hellish landscape twisted beyond recognition, while Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman have all been separated and must fight to survive. See Dark Nights: Death Metal Reading Order for more information.

Aquaman

V. Aquaman Infinite Frontier Reading Order (2021-2022)

As we enter a new era, Aquaman (and Green Arrow) celebrate his 80th birthday with a special and a miniseries.

Aquamen

There’s a storm brewing in the seven seas with writers Brandon Thomas and Chuck Brown, as the events of Black Manta and Aquaman: The Becoming lead directly to the new series Aquamen, starring both Arthur Curry and Jackson Hyde!

  • Aquaman: The Becoming 
    Collects Aquaman: The Becoming #1-6 and Future State: Aquaman #1-2. This story is about Jackson Hyde, alias Aqualad, becoming Aquaman.
  • Black Manta (prelude to Aquamen)
    Collects Black Manta #1-6, the full series, and a prelude story from Aquaman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1.
  • Aquamen
    Collects Aquamen #1-6. Warning! The sixth issue is a tie-in to Dark Crisis so to read after Justice League #75.
  • Aquaman & The Flash: Voidsong
    This team-up between Arthur Curry and Barry Allen is a stand-alone story.

The members of the Justice League (including Arthur Curry) are killed in Justice League #75. The remaining heroes are left to protect the world from an onslaught of violent attacks by DC’s greatest villains in Dark Crisis. Check out our reading order to know more about it.

Aquaman

VI. Aquaman Dawn of DC Reading Order (2023-)

From one crisis to another! After Dark Crisis and Batman Vs. Robin, the DC Universe if affected by some Lazarus clouds rains in the Lazarus Planet event, that has for mission to start a new DC era. You’ll find Arthur Curry in the teasing story “Hunger Pains” in Lazarus Planet: We Once Were Gods #1.

More Coming Soon!

Last Updated on March 15, 2024.

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