Without question, Aquaman is the most maligned superhero in all of superhero comics. Sure, his comics feature astonishingly perfect action recaps like “Octopi disarm several of the pirates, while a swordfish relieves another of his pistol,” but the reality of the Justice League’s resident monarch is a bit more complex than “TL;DR – Talks to fish, played by dude from Entourage.”
I mean, truly, have you ever seen a better PSA on boating safety?
DC Comics has certainly targeted an Aquaman reclamation project in recent years, with Geoff John’s New 52 character getting his Green Lantern expansion treatment, and DC Rebirth Aquaman garnering critical acclaim.
What tends to fly under the radar, is that Aquaman comics can deal with monarchy, sorcery, and ancient civilizations in a way the likes of Batman and Superman rarely do (Wonder Woman… that’s a different story).
Below you’ll find a reading order for Aquaman comics from his origins to present day.
Aquaman Comics Trade Reading Order
A very similar selection of early Aquaman comics are also included in Showcase Presents: Aquaman, Vol. 1. Aquaman’s early days will continue in DC’s Showcase Presents series moving forward.
Collects: Adventure Comics #260-280 & 282 And Showcase #30-31
Collects: Aquaman #7-23, World’s Finest #130-133, #135, #137 and #139 and The Brave and the Bold #51
Collects: Aquaman 24-39, Brave and the Bold 73 and Jimmy Olsen 115
Aquaman #40 to #47 (The Search for Mera)
Unfortunately, this series is weirdly uncollected. Nonetheless, you can find the issues available digitally above at Comixology.
Mark Waid and Barry Kitson’s JLA graphic novel explores the first year of the Justice League, with some particularly original ideas for what life would be like for Aquaman now out of water.
The formative showdown cementing Black Manta as Aquaman’s longtime archnemesis.
Collects: Adventure Comics #435-437, #441 to #452, Aquaman #57 to #61, Adventure Comics #453 to #455, Aquaman #62 to #63
Death of a Prince effectively ended Aquaman as a solo series. It took a decade for the title to come back for a short-lived 1986 miniseries by Neal Pozner and Craig Hamilton.
Collects: Aquaman #1 to #4, Aquaman Special #1
Aquaman Comics in the 90’s
1990’s Aquaman comics are sadly underrepresented in collected editions by DC at the time of this publication (Feb 2017).
I expect that much like Mark Waid’s Flash, and Peter David’s own Supergirl and Young Justice, that Aquaman is next in line for some nice reprints of the long Peter David run on the character throughout the decade.
Aquaman vs. Aquaman (1991 series)
Collects: Aquaman #7 to #13 (1991 series)
Collects: Aquaman: Time and Tide #1 to #4
Collects: The Atlantis Chronicles #1 to #7
Aquaman 90’s Solo Series by Peter David (1994 to 2001)
Collects: Aquaman #1 to #48
Grant Morrison’s 90’s JLA features Aquaman as a primary member, and includes some memorable moments for the character. The four deluxe editions will take you through JLA #1 to #41.
Aquaman Comics Enter the 2000’s
Following the conclusion of the David era Aquaman (officially in 2001), Aquaman relaunched with a renumbered series beginning with Rick Veitch’s “The Waterbearer” story arc.
This time period will take you through the most well known “Sub Diego” arc to DC’s Universe-wide event Flashpoint.
Collects: Aquaman #1 to #4
Collects: JLA #66 to #76
Currently uncollected, but available digitally.
Aquaman: Sub-Diego (2003 to 2006 series)
Collects: Aquaman #15 to #22
Collects: Aquaman #23 to #31
Collects: Aquaman #32 to #39
Collects: Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #40 to #45
52 occurs in the wake of DC’s Infinite Crisis, and offers a year in which DC’s major heroes have gone missing. While the series goes in a zillion directions that have zilch to do with Atlantis, this is excellent reading, and you do get an explanation for Aquaman’s absence in the World War III event. This all sets up the next Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern event…
There’s no doubt that Brightest Day will make the most sense within the context of Comic Book Herald’s Green Lantern reading order. Nonetheless, the series has major ramifications for Aquaman.
As you’d expect from the title, this isn’t core Aquaman, but the King of Atlantis plays a crucial role in Flashpoint, particularly in regards to his ongoing war with Wonder Woman!
Collects: Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #1 to #3
New 52 Aquaman Reading Order
You can see where all these New 52 Aquaman comics fit within the context of the larger DC Universe as part of Comic Book Herald’s complete New 52 reading order.
Astonishingly, under the pen of Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis, Aquaman was granted rights to the New 52 Justice League’s first crossover event! You can find the full tie-in reading order for Throne of Atlantis below.
Aquaman Throne of Atlantis Reading Order:
Justice League #16
Justice League #17
You absolutely do not Convergence need to read DC’s 2015 event in order to enjoy the two issue Aquaman miniseries. In fact, I would recommend you don’t.
Collects: Convergence Aquaman #1 to #2
Collects: The eight collected editions of New 52 Aquaman will take you through Aquaman #1 to #52
Aquaman in DC Rebirth
You can see where Aquaman fits in the larger DC Universe as part of Comic Book Herald’s complete DC Rebirth reading order.
Collects: Aquaman: Rebirth #1, Aquaman #1 to #6
Collects: Aquaman #7 to #12