Monday, March 26, 2007

Aquaman kicked in crotch.
Originally uploaded by googum.
Between mainstream Marvel and DC titles, there's probably a baker's dozen worth of characters that are kings (rarely queens or other royalty, although not unheard of) of their own country. Dr. Doom or the Black Panther are probably Marvel's most well known monarchs, while Black Adam is in the tailend of a kingly reign at DC's 52.

Then of course, there's kings of their respective Atlantis...Atlanti? Atlantises? Ahem. Kings of their respective cities of Atlantis, Namor the Sub-Mariner, and Aquaman. What else do Namor and Aquaman have in common that they don't share with these other rulers?

Besides the water thing. OK, and besides being tools.

Fine, I'll tell you: Namor and Aquaman are dethroned all the time. Almost constantly. Sometimes, they are off the throne so long, it might seem like they're never going to be king again, and then bam! Back to Atlantis, where they're roped in again. Namor usually has to beat down Attuma for the 90th time, while Aquaman has more variation but less memorable usurpers. In the picture above, the Joker briefly took over, in a little story set in continuity right after the classic Joker-fish.

It would be fair to say the other kings are occasionally dethroned. Doom's been removed from power more than once, and I can't recall: how did he reclaim the throne after Waid's "Authoritative Action" storyline in Fantastic Four? (That return seemed awfully quick...) Even Black Bolt's been cast down once or twice.

But Namor and Aquaman...whenever they have their own book, even if a writer takes great pains to avoid it (such as making Aquaman 'underwater Conan' or recasting Namor as a corporate 'shark' in a suit) eventually someone hits that ol' reset button and brings them back to king. The argument probably is, the throne is part of the underwater setting that makes them (both) unique, and it should be used to set them apart from surface heroes. And the counter is, the underwater setting is harder to relate to for readers...and sometimes looks dumb.

Of course, all of this is just a rambling string of consciousness, in a vague attempt to justify posting a panel of Joker kicking Aquaman in the junk...

From Legends of the DC Universe #26 (or #27?), "The Fishy Laugh" Written by Steve Englehart, pencils by Trevor Von Eeden, inks by Joe Rubinstein.

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