Why I Hate Aquaman

Aquaman is a very difficult superhero to wrap your head around. He is nearly powerless on land, so he has to be in the water to use his complement of superpowers: underwater breathing, super-fast swimming, and telepathic control of sea life. However, there's not a lot of crime underwater. Most criminals can't breathe underwater, to say nothing of the people they wish to victimize. So, where does that leave the super-powered fish guy?

Underwater Boss
You can only fight evil industrialists and unscrupulous yacht owners for so long before you run out of things to do, so DC made old Arthur Curry into the King of Atlantis. O.K., now we're getting somewhere. You've got a kingdom of people living under the sea, you've got your political intrigue and your devious relatives and oh god I've fallen asleep.

There's a reason that Conan stories take place before he becomes king (for the most part), and that's something writers have written about since Beowulf decided "I'm going out to fight that dragon, what's the worst that could happen?" And that is that kings don't do anything. They're already the boss. What fun is it to read about a superhero who has an army of guys to go take care of his problems for him? "Oh dear, here comes Ocean Master! Maybe I'll send my army of guys after him." And then he got married! Married guys usually try to stay out of trouble, their wives don't like sharing them with life-threatening peril (I'm speaking from personal experience).

You know what? I really don't think sending a bunch of innocent whales and squid to fight your battles is cool, Aquaman. What would be cool is sending a small army of angry great white sharks to fight your battles for you, but your battles wouldn't end in your villains going to jail so much as it would end in them floating in chunks in your army's poop.

I am torn whether or not children should read that, pun intended.

Aquaman, predictably, has a bit of a weiner rogue's gallery. Listen to these winners: Ocean Master, The Fisherman, Black Manta. I know a ray killed Steve Irwin but it's not generally a threatening creature. One villain, a gomer named Charybdis (rolls off the tongue) managed to get Aquaman's hand off and give the old pufferfish something approaching street cred. But a hook hand is only marginally more effective in combat than a hand holding a knife, which is infinitely less deadly than any dude with a gun.

The Names
And then there's Aquababy and Aqualad. Can you imagine having a name like that? I can understand losing your hand and abdicating your throne is stressful but don't do that to a child.

What Next?
Did you know that later Aquaman became a horrible slime monster and a young, handsome guy took over? Aquaman became the new guy's Yoda-style mentor. That sounds pretty good, but you're still running into the same problems as old timey Aquaman had, such as enemies with names that sound like Ocean Spray and a kingdom full of dudes who haven't invented guns yet and can't breathe on land.

I don't know what's going on with Aquaman these days; I heard he died and came back as Aquaman Classic but then got his hand ripped off again, like he's Optimus Prime and he can only do one thing. Optimus dies in every retelling, and Aquaman loses the ability to high-five.

Aquaman! That's a hard guy to wrap your head around.

Montreal Comic Con roundup

Fan Expo, then two weeks on the road visiting family, then the Montreal Con! Whew!

Well, growing pains notwithstanding, the 2011 Montreal Comic Con was a fantastic show. I was busy nearly the entire show, and here's a few of the thirty or so sketches I did to show for it.

The Batman

Glob Herman  (on a date)

 Red Sonja
 Kratos sketchcard
 Red Lantern Hal Jordan (this kid's totally sweet name: Merlin)
 A wedding drawing
 Cheetah (running faster than Horse)
Hellboy (I love drawing Hellboy)

 And a caricature! A lot of people thought 'head sketch' meant 'caricature', and since I worked as a pro caricaturist in Calgary for six years it was not hard for me to get back into the groove.
The show was a lot of fun; I was seated next to the marvelous Tom Fowler so I was never bored, and I had the extreme pleasure of chatting with Sergio Aragones for a few minutes. Sergio is a hero of mine, one of the greatest cartoonists ever and a jolly fellow, and I did my best not to flip out while we spoke.

It was also lovely to see the great Stan Sakai for a moment, and getting to meet the legendary Diana Schutz and chat with her for awhile. Other friends such as Yanick Paquette and Ty Templeton also made things a lot of fun. Geez, I have a good time at this show. Thanks, everyone!

In other news:

• I am teaching a class on comic-book storytelling at Syn Studio here in Montreal. Classes run for ten weeks (Thursdays from 6:30-9:30) and start on September 29th, if you're interested get in touch with the gallery: http://www.galeriesynesthesie.com/

• As always, my weekly webcomic That's So Kraven! updates every Wednesday.

Green Wake, the fantastic horror series I letter for Image/Shadowline, has a trade paperback coming out this Wednesday! It collects the first five issues and it's gorgeous. I can't wait for you to read it, and keep your eyes peeled for Green Wake #6, coming in October.