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DC Comics' Aquaman has changed drastically, this is why it matters

How three recent Aquaman-related series redefined a classic DC superhero

Three comics covers Aquaman, Black Manta, and Andromeda next to each other
Image credit: DC Comics

Historically, Aquaman has been a blond-haired white man, an image largely iterated by white creatives behind the screen and page. But that’s begun to change in the recent years, as what ‘Aquaman’ is and can be has become more varied, and less fixed. For a whole generation now, ‘Aquaman’ means Jason Momoa, the brown-skinned Native Hawaiian and Polynesian star. This iteration has been mostly shaped by James Wan, an Asian-Australian director, with the Aquaman film being the first and only post-Nolan DC effort to cross a $1 billion at the box office.

The sea change isn’t just limited to film. Over the past two years, Aquaman, largely written by white writers for decades, has been exclusively handled by Black and Brown writers.

And the results have been fresh and quite interesting, as they complicate the ideas and thematic interests of the enterprise. So, we’re going to dive into three fantastic modernizations of the world of Aquaman and consider their implications. For these are all books filled with ideas and evolutions that ask us to reassess our assumptions of what Aquaman stories can be.

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Ritesh Babu avatar
Ritesh Babu: Ritesh Babu (He/They) is a writer and critic whose work has appeared in Polygon, Panel x Panel, NeoTextReview, DenOfGeek, Shelfdust, Comic Book Herald, and many more outlets. Their recurring fascination and subject of interest is the terrain of colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism, and how they shape our collective modern realities. When he's not writing about The British Invasion (comics or otherwise) or reading books on history, Ritesh can be found enjoying football and food dramas.
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