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You can't keep even a
lame superhero down


July 11, 2002
By Franklin Harris

Remember last year when I wrote about the death of Aquaman? Well, he's back.

When it comes to not staying dead, superheroes are worse than Michael Myers.

Aquaman's resurrection begins this month in "JLA" No. 68, the prologue of a seven-part saga called "The Obsidian Age: The Hunt for Aquaman."

Aquaman
Aquaman
It's a bit like "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock." You can't have a word like "hunt" or "search" in the title and then not find what you're looking for. Your audience will feel cheated, and things could get ugly.

During the course of "The Obsidian Age," "JLA" will ship biweekly, giving readers twice their usual dose of the Justice League of America.

Another clue that the Justice League will find its fallen member is that DC Comics has announced a new, ongoing "Aquaman" comic to debut in December.

Rick Veitch ("Greyshirt: Indigo Sunset") will write the new series, and Yvel Guichet and Mark Propst ("JLA") will handle the art chores.

I think this is Aquaman's fourth ongoing title, but it's getting hard to keep track.

Now, you may be thinking, "Why are they bringing Aquaman back?"

Indeed, the clamor for Aquaman to return from his watery grave was notable only for its absence, although perhaps that was because his stalwart fans knew he would return soon enough, anyway.

Aquaman may be a laughingstock, but he is a laughingstock with high name recognition. As far as DC's parent company, AOL Time Warner, is concerned, that makes him marketable.

Of course, these are the same geniuses who are developing a Wonder Twins movie, based on the two teen sidekicks from the "Superfriends" cartoon.

Aquaman may have been the low man on the "Superfriends" roster, but at least he wasn't a teen sidekick.

It was "Superfriends" that pretty much ruined Aquaman's reputation. Because of it, an entire generation grew up thinking of Aquaman as that lame guy who talks to fish.

In the '90s, writer Peter David tried to make Aquaman respectable. He gave Aquaman a harpoon for a hand, a King Arthur-like appearance and a bad attitude. But his results were mixed. For some readers, the radical makeover was an admission that the character didn't work.

Of course, if DC Comics can turn a one-time loser like Hawkman into an interesting character (check out the new "Hawkman" series if you don't believe me), then maybe they can do the same for Aquaman.

But can Veitch attract readers?

Most recently, Veitch worked with Alan Moore on Moore's America's Best Comics imprint, which is critically acclaimed, but not exactly a top seller.

And it has been about 15 years since Veitch's claim to fame, when he succeeded Moore as the writer of "Swamp Thing."

Veitch famously vowed never to work for DC Comics again after DC refused to publish his story for "Swamp Thing" No. 88. In that issue, Swamp Thing was to meet Jesus Christ, and Veitch was shocked — shocked! — that DC backed out of publishing the story for fear of offending not a few readers.

Of course, Veitch is now back at DC, proving either bygones will eventually be bygones or money talks.

But I wonder what will happen if Veitch decides to have Aquaman meet Jesus. After all, they've both returned from the dead, and they probably have a lot to talk about.

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