Somehow, James Wan and company thought it would be a funny idea to make an Aquaman cartoon where the booty and action runneth over. This is how Aquaman: King of Atlantis was born. Rife with butt cleavage, farts, and non-stop cartoon violence, this miniseries goes wild with it all. Fresh from his win over half-brother Ocean Master, Aquaman takes the throne of Atlantis, but the Atlanteans seem pretty nonplussed about it. Their lack of emotion towards his protagonistic reign leads Aquaman to take drastic measures in order to win over his new subjects. In “Chapter One: Dead Sea,” Aquaman runs off with Mera to the edges of the ocean in search of an outpost from whom no one had heard from in nearly seven years.
This is the first of three 45-minute episodes in the Aquaman miniseries, and you really have no idea what you’re getting into when this episode begins. The animation style is a sucker punch to the face if I’m being honest. It’s a mix of Chowder meets Adventure Time meets Teen Titans Go!, definitely reminiscent of many standout Cartoon Network animated shows. This is fitting, as Aquaman was meant to air on the CN ACME Night block in addition to its home base of HBO Max, which has been airing reboots of some cartoons like Adventure Time periodically. Aquaman is the surrealist animated version of what happens immediately after the end of James Wan’s feature film of the same name. There isn’t really a comic that I can pinpoint in my research as the crux of the miniseries. If anything, the main characters are ones who would obviously continue to be in the movie or a spin-off. However, as far as the series’ antagonist, it’s as if the show writers flipped through old Aquaman comics and decided to go with the one who would likely never appear in the movies.
By far the most infuriating character in the series is Mera. Nothing at all like her movie counterpart, this Mera is there to chew bubblegum and kick ass, but she’s intentionally blown up the ocean’s supply of bubblegum. Violence gives her a reason to live. In Mera’s opinion, it is the solution to everything. Her sheer recklessness and laser beam focus towards destruction is grating. If you didn’t hate Mera before, now you will. Ocean Master is pretty annoying too. He’s this series’ version of Ice King (from Adventure Time) and there are instances where it seemed like he was being voiced by Tom Kenny. Utterly focused on taking back the throne of Atlantis time and time again, Ocean Master doesn’t realize his actions have consequences until it is too late. Everything is a big joke to him, and unfortunately for Aquaman, he’s not the only one laughing. The Atlanteans still love Ocean Master despite the walking debacle he is.
Aquaman himself is a very likeable character. Though he does take himself a bit too seriously and is too concerned with what others think of him, Aquaman is always himself and doesn’t pretend to be something he is not. We see him at his happiest, saddest, funniest, and angriest, and by the end you’ll wish there were more episodes, because this Aquaman is a pretty cool character. He’s definitely the reason to watch the series, as some of the other character’s shortfalls elevate him even more. I won’t go into the antagonist for the series because it’s very interesting how that aspect develops. Just keep in mind that almost everyone we meet isn’t a one-off character. Be sure to pay attention to the story as of episode one, because it’s important to help understand the finale. You’ll be sure to like Aquaman: King of Atlantis and it’s great to watch along with your kids too. Here’s looking forward to another miniseries in the future.
Aquaman: King of Atlantis premiered on October 14th and all three episodes are now available to watch on HBO Max.
Ruth Kotsalos spent her Saturday mornings as a kid fully invested in Batman: The Animated Series. Since then, she has been a fan of all DC animated cartoons and movies. Ruth currently works in the nonprofit sector, has a masters degree from The New School, and lives in New Jersey with her husband John, and their German Shepherd puppy, Athena.