March 05, 2016


(CBS, September 9, 1967-January 6, 1968)

Filmation Associates, Ducovny Productions, National Periodical Publications

Marvin MillerAquaman/Arthur Curry
Bud CollyerSuperman/Clark Kent
Cliff OwensFlash/Barry Allen
Tommy CookKid Flash/Wally West
Julie BennettWonder Girl/Donna Troy
Pat Harrington, Jr.Atom/Ray Palmer, Speedy/Roy Harper
Gerald MohrGreen Lantern/Hal Jordan, Rock Man Weapons Officer
Vic PerrinHawkman/Katar Hall
Ted Knight – Narrator, Black Manta, Torpedo Man, Imp, Tusky, Blue Bolt

             Aquaman was created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger for More Fun Comics #73 (1941) during the period known as the Golden Age of comics.  He is the ruler of the undersea kingdom of Atlantis and possesses super strength, speed, and the ability to communicate with sea-life via a form of telepathy.

Aquaman's Golden Age origin.

             Like many other early comic characters, Aquaman’s origin had undergone some revisions over time. Initially, his father, a human undersea explorer, discovered the ancient civilization of Atlantis and chose to live there with his son after the death of his wife. There, he taught his son how to survive in water and gained additional abilities through scientific means. This origin prevailed throughout his remaining appearances in More Fun Comics until #107, when he was moved over as a starring feature in Adventure Comics #103 (1946).

Tom Curry meets Atlanna.

             During the Silver Age of Comics, his origin was revamped by Robert Bernstein and Ramona Fradon in Adventure Comics #260 (1959) to have his mother, Atlanna, be an Atlantean outcast who fell in love with human lighthouse keeper Tom Curry. They had a son, Arthur, who inherited his abilities from his mother. He had decided to use his powers to defend Earth’s oceans, adopting the identity of first Aquaboy and later Aquaman. In The Brave and the Bold #28 (1960), he became one of the founding members of the Justice League of America; a team of superheroes that banded together to protect the world of threats too severe for the heroes to handle by themselves.

Aquaman vs. Black Manta.

In 1962 Aquaman finally received his own self-titled series. It was during this period that Aquaman’s mother had died and Tom eventually remarried a human woman. Together, they had a son named Orm. Orm grew up jealous of Arthur and turned to petty theft, eventually contracting amnesia and becoming his arch-nemesis Ocean Master: a high-tech pirate who attacked ships and caused natural disasters. Other foes introduced were The Fisherman (Aquaman #21, 1965), a high-tech international criminal with a pressure suit, collapsible fishing rod, and gimmick lures; Black Manta (Aquaman #35, 1967), a mysterious armored figure whose suit allows him to exist in the water, fly, and fire eye beams amongst a myriad of weaponry; and the terrorist organization known as O.G.R.E. (Organization for General Revenge and Enslavement, Aquaman #26, 1976).

Aqualad and Tusky rescue Mera.

Aquaman wasn’t just making enemies, though. Along the way he befriended Aqualad (Adventure Comics #269, 1960); another Atlantean outcast and orphan that Aquaman took under his wing and mentored. In Aquaman #11 (1963), Aquaman was introduced to his future wife, Mera; queen of an alternate dimension called Dimension Aqua. In addition to having similar powers to Aquaman (sans the telepathy), she could create hard water objects and control certain amounts of water.

Aquaman and Aqualad on Storm and Imp.

In 1966, Filmation Associates had produced their first television program: The New Adventures of Superman. With that show’s success, they acquired the rights to further DC Comics (then-National Periodical Publications) superheroes. They created a show based around Aquaman, bringing him (Marvin Miller), Aqualad (Jerry Dexter) and Mera (Diana Maddox) to life along with an assortment of his foes. Unlike Superman, Aquman was played more towards the campy tone of the live-action Batman series that inspired CBS’ foray into superheroes. Helping that tone was the inclusion of the giant seahorses named Storm and Imp, which Aquaman and Aqualad rode, and the comic-relief pet walrus named Tusky (seahorses appeared nameless in the comics; both Imp and Tusky were voiced by Knight, who also provided episode narration). Aqualad also took a cue from Robin’s playbook with the constant exclamation of “Holy halibut!”

As with Superman, Filmation produced two 6-minute episodes for each half hour. The remaining time was filled by an alternating segment featuring different “guest” characters for a series of three episodes each. The first segment involved the Justice League of America, which starred Aquaman alongside Superman (Bud Collyer, carrying the role over from The New Adventures of Superman), the Atom (Pat Harrington, Jr.), the Flash (Cliff Owens), Green Lantern (Gerald Mohr) and Hawkman (Vic Perrin). The line-up was largely based on the original team line-up from their debut throughout most of the 60s. Missing were Batman, Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter, whose rights were not included in the deal.  

Another team segment involved the Teen Titans. Created by Bob Haney and Bruno Premiani, The Titans began when Robin had to team-up with Aqualad and Flash’s sidekick, Kid Flash (Tommy Cook), to defeat the weather-controlling villain Mister Twister in The Brave and the Bold #54 (1964). In issue #60, they were joined by Wonder Woman’s younger sister, Wonder Girl (Julie Bennett), who shared the same abilities, and they adopted the Titans name. They received their own series in 1966 where they were aided and eventually joined by Green Arrow’s sidekick, Speedy (Harrington), who used trick arrows just like his mentor. Initially, the team helped teenagers but expanded their focus as their series went on. Each of these sidekicks were inspired by the success of Robin, with DC deciding to duplicate that formula by giving their other heroes their own partners.

The remaining segments focused on the exploits of the League members away from the team. The Atom was an update to the Golden Age character of the same name. Developed by editor Julius Schwartz along with Gardner Fox and Gil Kane in Showcase #34 (1961), Ray Palmer was a scientist who developed a means to atomically compress matter in order to fight overpopulation. He used the process on himself in order to save his students on an expedition, and began his miniaturized crime-fighting career.

Another Golden Age update, the Flash was developed by John Broome, Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino for Showcase #4 (1956). He was forensic scientist Barry Allen until a freak lightning strike sent him careening into a shelf full of chemicals. That caused him to gain super speed and he became the protector of Central City, naming himself after his hero, the original Flash Jay Garrick. Flash shared his adventures with Kid Flash, who was the nephew of his girlfriend (and later wife) Iris West and gained his powers in a similar fashion. 

The next Golden Age revival came in the form of Green Lantern. Schwartz, Broome and Kane introduced stunt pilot Hal Jordan in Showcase #22 (1959) who came across a downed alien’s ship. That alien, Abin Sur, used his dying breath to bestow his ring upon Jordan, turning him into a Green Lantern and a member of the Green Lantern Corps. As Green Lantern, Jordan could use his willpower to create anything from his ring that he could imagine, fly and survive in space. His bosses were the Guardians of the Universe (Paul Frees); emotionless beings who resided on the Corps home planet of Oa. Joining him was his best friend and mechanic, Kairo (based on Thomas Kalmaku from the comics, also Frees).

Lastly were the cosmic exploits of Hawkman. Changed from his Golden Age form as a reincarnated Egyptian Prince, Schwartz along with Fox and Joe Kubert reimagined him as an alien policeman from the planet Thanagar.  His costume, composed of Nth metal, allowed him to defy gravity and mentally control his wings. Despite access to an array of fictional weaponry, his weapon of choice was an Nth metal mace. He debuted in The Brave and the Bold #34 (1961) and came to Earth with his wife, Shayera, aka Hawkgirl, in pursuit of a criminal and stayed to fight crime. They adopted the names Carter and Shiera and became curators of a museum in Midway City before both eventually joined the Justice League. Unlike the other updated characters, Hawkman’s appearance was largely unchanged.

Aquaman debuted on CBS on September 9, 1967. It was aired alongside Superman in a block entitled The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure.  As with Superman, actual employees of DC worked on the show; including the writing-editing team of Haney and George Kashdan, who worked on nearly all the “guest” segments, and Aquaman creator Weisinger, who handled the ones involving Superman. The music was composed by John Marion. Like the comics that dominated the Silver Age, many of the stories dealt with some kind of alien invaders and extreme science-fiction elements. Aquaman could retroactively be considered the debut of the first African-American character on Saturday morning television when Black Manta was revealed to be one a decade later in Adventure Comics #452 (1977).

Aquaman using his mental powers.

The continued success of Filmation’s DC programs led to additional programs entering development. Among them was the transmutable hero Metamorpho, the malleable Plastic Man, WWII-era ace pilots The Blackhawks, the super-powered misfit team of The Doom Patrol, the animalistic B’Wana Beast and the robotic Metal Men, as well as a series centered around the Flash and Wonder Woman. However, CBS secured the animation rights to Batman and tasked Filmation with making a show for him instead. As a result of its last-minute status, Filmation abandoned most of their plans in order to reassign as many people as they could into the Batman series. No further Aquaman segments were produced, and it was broken off into its own series of reruns for the following season to allow The Adventures of Batman to be paired with Superman in The Batman/Superman Hour.

DVD cover.

In 1985, Warner Home Video released eight Aquaman episodes to VHS as part of their “Super Powers” video collection that was re-released in 1996. In 2007, The Adventures of Aquaman: the Complete Collection was released to DVD and included only the Aquaman segments of the series. The “guest” segments were released in 2008 as DC Super Heroes: The Filmation Adventures. In 2014, DC Super Heroes was re-released as two separate volumes with the six features broken up between them.

After the show ran its course, Aquaman would go on to join Superman and the rest of the Justice League in Hanna-Barbera’s Super Friends franchise. The next time the Teen Titans would be seen was in an anti-drug commercial that aired in 1984, also produced by Hanna-Barbera. This commercial featured the only animated appearance of the line-up from Marv Wolfman and George Pérez’s The New Teen Titans comprised of Wonder Girl, Starfire, Raven, Cyborg, Beast Boy, Kid Flash and Protector. Protector was a replacement for Robin here and in the related tie-in comics as his rights were tied up in a Nabisco deal while these specials were sponsored by Keebler. They would eventually gain their own series in 2003 on Cartoon Network. Aquaman and Aqualad would return to defend the sea in flashbacks during Aquaman’s appearances on the campy throwback series Batman: The Brave and the Bold, utilizing a similar design to the Filmation show.

“Menace of the Black Manta / Between Two Armies / The Rampaging Reptile-Men” (9/9/67) – Black Manta attempts to sink a luxury liner. / The Justice League has to bring peace to the Rock and Crystal people from Mercury before they destroy Earth. / Reptile beings attack a hydropower relay station for Atlantis.

“The Return of Nepto / Target Earth / The Fiery Invaders” (9/16/67) – A revived Viking sea-tyrant attacks Atlantis. / The Justice League has to save Earth from Rom-Nex’s gravity device. / A sun being wants to dry out Earth’s oceans.

“The Sea Raiders / Bad Day on Black Mountain / War of the Water Worlds” (9/23/67) – Alien big game hunters prowl the oceans. / Mastermind lures the Justice League into a trap in order to get them out of the way. / A plant being captures Mera in a sub-aquatic world.

“The Volcanic Monster / Invasion of the Beetle-Men / The Crimson Monster From the Pink Pool” (9/30/67) – A lava giant opens up a volcano. / Atom must protect a nuclear plant from alien insects. / An acid-spitting monster attacks Atlantis.

“The Ice Dragon / The Plant Master / The Deadly Drillers” (10/7/67) – Aquaman fights a dragon who can freeze things. / Atom has to defeat plants granted sentience by a criminal scientist. / Mole men attack Atlantis in drilling submarines.

“Vassa – Queen of the Mermen / The House of Doom / The Microscopic Monsters” (10/14/67) – Vassa attacks Atlantis with robot bull whales. / Atom goes up against a scientist and an alien warlord. / Black Manta steals Aquaman’s plankton enlarging ray.

“The Onslaught of the Octomen / The Monster Machine / Treacherous is the Torpedo Man” (10/21/67) – Aquaman is captured by an advanced race of octopus-like beings. / The Teen Titans have to protect Earth from multi-armed robots. / Torpedo Man lures Aquaman to an unstable pirate ship wreck.

“The Satanic Saturnians / The Space Beast Round-Up / The Brain, the Brace and the Bold” (10/28/67) – Fish beings from Saturn attack Earth. / The Teen Titans have to recapture the prey dropped by alien hunters. / Mutant scientist The Brain uses his intellect against Aquaman.

“Where Lurks the Fisherman! / Operation Rescue / The Trio of Terror” (11/4/67) – The Fisherman sets a trap for Aquamna. / The Teen Titans have to save a scientist and his son from an alien mountain tribe. / Black Manta, Vassa and The Brain join forces against Aquaman.

“Mephisto’s Marine Marauders / The Chemo-Creature / The Torp, the Magneto and the Claw” (11/11/67) – Marauders attack an oxygen exchange plant and then Atlantis. / Flash goes up against a mutated ant. / Torpedo Man joins with Magneto and Claw in a plot against Atlantis.

“Goliaths of the Deep-Sea Gorge / Take a Giant Step / The Sinister Sea Scamp” (11/18/67) – A giant attacks a mermaid society. / A scientist sends a robot after Flash and Kid Flash. / A raider uses a device to bring a poisonous phosphorus boulder to life.

“The Devil Fish / To Catch a Blue Bolt / The Sea Scavengers” (11/25/67) – Black Manta captures the Navy’s new undersea craft. / Flash and Kid Flash have to protect Earth from an equally-fast alien. / Pirates use a giant submarine robot in their crimes.

“In Captain Cuda’s Clutches / Peril from Pluto / The Mirror-Man from Planet Imago” (12/2/67) – A pirate raids a bed of crystals. / Hawkman must protect Earth from a threat on Pluto. / Reflecto gives The Brain a perfect double of Aquaman to use against Atlantis.

“The Sea Sorcerer / A Visit to Venus / The Sea-Snares of Captain Sky” – (12/9/67) – Aquaman fights an evil warlock. / Hawkman is lured into a trap in order to rescue a manned space probe. / A sky pirate attacks Aquaman.

“The Undersea Trojan Horse / The Twenty Third Dimension / The Vicious Villainy of Vassa” (12/16/67) – Mera causes an artificial seahorse to attack Atlantis. / Pranksters from Jupiter use teleportation rays on Hawkman. / Vassa returns to attack Atlantis with a fleet of laser-drill ships.

“Programmed for Destruction / Evil is as Evil Does / The War of the Quatix and the Bimphars” (12/23/67) – The Brain creates a device that will make Atlanteans float helplessly to the surface. / The Guardians send Green Lantern after Evil Star. / NASA sends Aquaman and his friends to explore an ocean planet.

“The Stickmen of Stygia / The Vanishing World / Three Wishes to Trouble” (12/30/67) – Mera and Aqualad’s prank helps them defeat cyclopsian beings. / Green Lantern is distracted from an escape from a penal planet. / A sea genie grants Aqualad’s wishes leading to trouble.

“The Silver Sphere / Sirena, Empress of Evil / To Catch a Fisherman” (1/6/68) – A mysterious growth becomes the source of conflict. / An evil queen attacks the planet Oa. / Fisherman’s trap for Aquaman backfires on him.

Originally posted in 2016. Updated in 2024.

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