Back in the day, I had the mind boggling honor of introducing brand new Vs. System cards to the world. I got to see the playing pieces early so I could gush. Three years later, my oceans are still foaming. Since we went underwater yesterday with Aquaman, it is time to ride the tide.
I wrote this for the DC Legends set, originally published on December 10th, 2007. It is still as fresh as the day it was caught. Enjoy…
Aquaman has become a rather funky icon in modern pop culture. When he first hit the television screen forty years ago, he made his initial mass media splash with The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. That sixties series couldn’t hold its breath for very long. Then the Super Friends made their extended run on the small screen starting in the seventies, and Aquaman was back, with his underwater telepathy beams rippling into homes across the country. That time, he was strong enough to stop a tidal wave.
Unfortunately for him, his visibility and name recognition were not enough to maintain his super-strength through a long string of spin-offs. The titles were ridiculous enough to tarnish an image on their own: Challenge of the Super Friends; The World’s Greatest Super Friends; Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show; and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians. Even though he was a key member of the “Super Powers Team,” Aquaman’s tricks were reduced to their briny essentials. Adding insult to injury, he was also forced to teach magic tricks to the kids in the audience. The power to hide a coin in the palm of your hand is not exactly the kind of threat that strikes fear in the hearts of the DC Comics super villain community.
He still had admirers, though. Despite his limited skills, Aquaman survived into the future as a cult favorite, overcoming the fashion obstacles of an orange-and-green outfit with pointy-finned boots and gloves. He didn’t have the same superstar popularity of Superman or Batman, but he had dedicated fans. Aquaman resurfaced in a big way near the turn of the millennium. For the past two decades, his scaly spandex and fishy talents have been celebrated, often through parody, in over twenty different programs.
From Seinfeld to The Simpsons to Smallville, Aquaman has gotten serious screen time. He is referenced in Family Guy and Robot Chicken. Button smashers worldwide have played video games featuring Aquaman since the days of Super Nintendo. There is a feature length film in the works for the fan-favorite orange shirt, and right now, Vs. System is allowing Aquaman to dig up some buried treasure.
That’s right—he’s three cards for the price of one. Any combo deck in the world can take to the seas and splash the Lord of Atlantis to make sure things are set up for the kill. His JLA team affiliation has a new good guy to act as a safety net when things go to turn 6. Cable is itching to spend an afternoon on the beach watching Aquaman try the Bodyslide to double the digging delights. Like the ocean he calls home, Aquaman, Lord of Atlantis represents the chance to fish out an uncountable bounty in our game.
That is not, in my personal opinion, the most exciting benthic announcement I am privileged to make today. As you probably know by now, I have been in love with tiny Army characters since the day Vs. System was released. DC Legends is rewarding my affections with the potential to create a spectacular seafood swarm.
One of the most touching mythological moments in comic book history occurred in Adventure Comics #476. Aquaman was facing a truly evil villain dressed as Poseidon. The bad guy seemed to be the real deal, and he could command the ocean’s residents with the same ease as our hero. When the pretender’s plot for world domination sent schools of fish to the surface to take over the world, Aquaman wrestled the mental control of a single dolphin away from the Poseidon impostor. The flippered friend was telepathically commanded to snatch the trident from the villain’s hand and save the day. It worked, but the tug-of-war inside the dolphin’s head caused it to have a heart attack. Aquaman got emotional and blamed himself. He settled silently to the bottom of the sea and worried about the great responsibility that comes with great power.
Then, something truly moving occurred. Tens of thousands of marine animals swam slowly, in formation, toward their sullen commander. They saluted him from the heart, telling him in their own special way that they follow him out of love, not because of force. It was the kind of story that can fill the reader with pure joy. It was almost as good as the Sea Creatures we will soon get to flip on our kitchen tables.
That, my friends, is fresh fish. We have been blessed with a rare Army character that becomes a salty, 1-cost beatstick when Aquaman is in play to continue his legend. Sea Creatures automatically align affiliations with their brave captain, and together they will be able to bring the pain to any defender who gets plopped into their watery domain. Team attack tricks will hit new heights when these little beaters cover the field. Aquaman, Arthur Curry can hit the board on turn 3 to call forth the tuna troops for the rest of the game. Sea Creatures are a natural source of protein for all the Ally recipes that the JLA has been cooking up since the Justice League of America set, and DC Legends promises to fill the cardboard pantry with even more legendary spices. It may never be safe to go back in the water.