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Arthur Orin Curry is the son of a lighthouse keeper from Massachusetts, and the Queen Regent of the Atlantean city-state of Poseidonis. Conceived shortly after the First World War, he became the costumed hero Aquaman at a time when naval warfare and nuclear arms placed the oceans in greater danger than ever before. Acting to intervene in a brewing war between the kingdoms of Atlantis and the surface world, Arthur completed a series of trials that proved him the worthy heir of King Atlan, and thus the rightful High King of Atlantis, coronated under the regnal name King Orin II.

As the sworn Protector of the Oceans, Arthur was bestowed with mystical power by the Ladies of the Lake, becoming the Avatar of The Blue known as the Waterbearer. As part of a cosmic balance, however, Arthur's continued use of this power gave rise to a dark counterpart called Thanatos. Rather than risk the destruction of Atlantis by a potentially unbeatable foe, Arthur abandoned his role as Aquaman and withdrew from the oceans into a self-imposed exile on land. He currently resides in a lighthouse near Happy Harbor, Rhode Island in a state of near-retirement, acting only on rare occasions - usually in cooperation with A.R.G.U.S. and Project Watchtower.


In 1918, the USS San Diego sank in the Atlantic Ocean under mysterious circumstances. According to her Captain, the San Diego was struck by a torpedo, but military reports provided no corroboration for a German U-boat in the area. The Naval Court of Inquiry concluded that the San Diego had struck a mine, but some experts question that interpretation, some speculating that German espionage and planted explosives were responsible. In reality, the San Diego - the only major warship lost by the United States Navy following its involvement in World War I - was sunk by Atlantean rebels.

Officially, six men were killed during the sinking of the San Diego, but only five of those deaths were confirmed: Petty Officer Tom Curry, who had been oiling the port propeller shaft at the time of the attack, was not found among the survivors, and was presumed to have been lost. In fact, he was rescued by Princess Atlanna of Atlantis, who had been sent to apprehend the rebels and prevent the existence of Atlantis from being revealed to the surface-dwellers. She returned Tom to America - to Amnesty Bay in Maine - and tended to his wounds before disappearing, hoping she would be mistaken for a dream. Tom would later return that favour years later, after the Princess fled from an arranged marriage. For several years, Atlanna lived with Tom Curry, who by that time had become the lighthouse keeper of Amnesty Bay, and the two had a son, whom they named Arthur Orin Curry, after legendary kings from their respective histories.

While Arthur was still an infant, soldiers from Atlantis tracked Atlanna to Amnesty Bay, sent by her betrothed to retrieve her following the death of her father. Though Atlanna effortlessly defeated the Atlantean soldiers, she realised the danger that Arthur would be in if Orvax Marius ever discovered her firstborn, she returned to Atlantis to serve as Queen Regent, leaving Tom to raise their son alone.

World War II

By the outbreak of the Second World War, Atlanna and Orvax had a son of their own: Orm Marius. Influenced by his father's militant opinion of the surface-dwellers, Orm delighted at the prospect of humanity destroying each other. In secret, he allied himself with the Third Reich, who interpreted him as a member of the Aryan master race they so idolised. Word of this reached Arthur, thanks to Vulko, the Royal Vizier, and at the urging of his father Arthur grudgingly agreed to use his own Atlantean abilities to aid the Allies in their fight against the Nazis and his brother. Though many of the Allies frowned upon the potential value of the so-called "Aqua-Man" - what use could one man be against an army? - Arthur captured the attention and imagination of Winston Churchill, who made arrangements for Arthur to begin serving alongside the British Commandos and the Special Boat Section, as part of operations that Churchill was delighted to refer to as Excalibur in reference to Arthur's alleged royal descent. When the United States joined the war effort in 1942, the term (and team) evolved into Task Force X - or as the Americans nicknamed it, the "All-Star Squadron" - and came to include Allied operatives like Commander Steel, Red Torpedo, the Creature Commandos, and the pilots of Blackhawk Squadron.

Cold War

Arthur went into "retirement" after the end of World War II, though it was a state that didn't last long. While the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought an end to the conflict with the Axis powers, the arms race that eventually followed between the United States and the Soviet Union caused considerable unrest among the citizens of Atlantis, particularly as nuclear testing and advances in submarine technology began to encroach increasingly upon Atlantean territory. Worse, Arthur later learned, his existence had been discovered and his mother exiled to the Trench - effectively a death sentence - while her husband had died in the power struggle that followed. This left Arthur's brother Orm - despite his war-time activities - as the Prince Regent of Poseidonis. Once again, Vulko approached Arthur to help soften his brother's war-like tendencies, this time by challenging Orm's claim to the throne: something Arthur was entitled to do, as the elder brother. To achieve this, however, Arthur needed to prove his worthiness to rule over all of Atlantis, by obtaining the Trident of Neptune from the still-alive King Atlan.

Eventually locating Atlan in a hidden sea, Arthur discovered there was more to the ancient king than the stories described: he was also the Waterbearer, the Avatar of The Blue, tasked with protecting and guiding the mystical energies of order and the ocean. It was that power which had allowed Atlan to transform the Atlantean people into a submarine race when their continent sank, and it was that power which Arthur needed to prove himself worthy of if he was to truly succeed Atlan. Aquaman's ability to communicate with ocean life - a trait not possessed by most Atlanteans, but shared with his ancestor Atlan - proved instrumental in demonstrating that worthiness. Arthur returned to Atlantis with Atlan's trident and his blessing, succeeding him both as High King and as Waterbearer. He was coronated as King Orin II, emphasising his shared name with one of Atlan's brothers.

King Orin's responsibilities to Atlantis drew him away from his role as a surface hero. He did not abandon his land-dwelling roots, however, and used his position as High King to open tentative diplomatic relations between Atlantis and the United Nations, though territorial disputes over the borders of Atlantis - which the UN considered to be part of "international waters" - proved a significant obstacle, and prevented Atlantis' recognition as a sovereign nation by many UN members. Contrary to convention, King Orin chose to act as the UN Ambassador himself, a choice that did not sit right with Atlanteans and other nations alike, but that Orin insisted was "necessary" for the sake of his sanity - an excuse to leave Atlantis and return to the surface, on occasion.

Present Day

The fall of the Justice Society of America brought an end to the era of Aquaman and his heroics being welcome on the surface, and while diplomatic immunity provided Aquaman with some latitude to continue his former activities, each action further strained relations with the United States in particular. A greater discouragement, however, came from the discovery that the powers of the Waterbearer came with a significant price. Each time the Waterbearer used their abilities, it provided strength to a dark counterpart of that power. In Atlan's time, the darkness had festered in the heart of his brother Orin, contributing to the rivalry that had helped bring about Atlantis' downfall. For Arthur however, the darkness manifested as an entire entity, a dark reflection of Aquaman and his abilities calling itself Thanatos, hell-bent on the destruction of Arthur and Atlantis. Slowly, Arthur came to understand why King Atlan had retreated into exile: his continued use of power and rule over Atlantis would have continued to strengthen his dark opposition and brought about Atlantis' doom. Reluctantly, Arthur abandoned his life as Aquaman, and abandoned the oceans, following in the footsteps of his father by retiring to the seclusion of a lighthouse - in this case, one near Happy Harbor, Rhode Island.

Arthur currently lives a solitary existence. He has not, and indeed cannot quite bring himself to abandon his role as Aquaman entirely, but he does spend most of his time in isolation, his own suffering and solitude holding Thanatos at bay. He still maintains contact with some of his past allies, however, particularly A.R.G.U.S., and on rare occasions will act in the defence of the planet - but only in situations of dire need.


In the events of Timeline A, Aquaman is the sovereign of Atlantis once more, having led his people in a devastating war against the Amazons and their Queen, Diana. Too late, it was realised that the conflict between the two nations had been engineered by the Lords of Chaos to help bring about the apocalyptic devastation of Warworld. Some Atlanteans still survive, though Atlantis itself is largely in ruins, and too few Atlanteans remain to ever hope to rebuild the Seven Kingdoms into what they once were.


Arthur has a personality of extremes. At times he is joyful and extrovert, finding delight in every aspect of his life. At others, he is bitter and jaded, wrestling with the burdens of leadership, responsibility, loss, and his past. Over time, his personality has increasingly skewed towards the latter - understandably - with the hope and optimism that once drove him left to stagnate and atrophy in his isolation. Arthur has always been an outcast, but this is a fact he has always accepted and embraced, finding solace in surrounding himself with other outcasts and oddities. Sadly, Arthur has outlived most of these former friends, and the shifting politics of the world's attitude towards heroes and vigilantes has made potential replacements fewer and further between.

Special Abilities

See also: Atlantean Physiology

Though only half-Atlantean, Arthur has much the same capabilities as his full-blooded counterparts: the result of magic cast upon the Atlantean people as one of King Atlan's final acts. He is able to breathe, move, and communicate freely underwater, and his body is adapted to withstand the intense pressures found at oceanic depths - adaptations that benefit him on land as well, providing him with superhuman strength and endurance. His skin is impervious to conventional metals, though he is still susceptible to the kinetic energy of such impacts, and is vulnerable to certain alchemical metals that use mystical means to overcome his Atlantean durability. His vision is also superhuman, adapted to see in the low light of the deep oceans, and attuned to wavelengths of light better suited to penetrate into those depths. As a member of Atlan's bloodline - as is the case with many of the royal bloodlines - Arthur is also more easily able to transition between the ocean and the surface: many Atlanteans are no longer capable of breathing air at all.

In addition to his Atlantean physiology, Arthur possesses a unique - or at least extremely rare - ability to communicate telepathically with oceanic life, a trait that provided compelling proof to King Atlan that Arthur had the potential to succeed him as Waterbearer. It is unclear why Arthur has this ability: many Atlanteans are able to live harmonious existences with ocean creatures, but this is largely the result of taming and domestication, rather than any sort of telepathic or empathic connection.

As Waterbearer, Arthur possesses hydrokinetic abilities, in an innate manner rather than through the arcane practices of Atlantean mystics like Mera. It is rumoured that the Waterbearer can control the waves and tides, conjure storms and maelstroms, spark earthquakes, and perform other feats befitting an heir of Poseidon, but it is unclear whether these are genuine capabilities or the product of myth and hearsay.


On his mother's side, Orin is descended from King Atlan. According to Atlantean tradition, he was the son of the Poseidon and Cleito - the daughter of one of Atlantis' first inhabitants. He ruled as the High King of Atlantis, with his brothers and other allies serving as subordinate sovereigns for each of the seven Atlantean kingdoms. He was the first and last king to rule Atlantis before it sank beneath the ocean: his final act as King was to invoke the magic that transformed the Atlanteans into a race that could survive beneath the sea.

  • Thomas Curry - Father. He served aboard the USS San Diego during the First World War, and was rescued by Atlanna after the ship was sunk by Atlantean rebels. He later retired to a lighthouse in Amnesty Bay, Maine.
  • Atlanna - Mother. As a Princess, she fled her responsibilities to Atlantis, pursuing a romance with Tom Curry, but was forced to return to Atlantis to reign as Queen Regent after her father's death, leaving her lover and firstborn son behind.
  • Mera - Arthur's wife. The Queen of Atlantis and the Princess of Xebel, and a formidable warrior and sorceress.
  • Orm Marius - Half-Brother, born from an arranged marriage between Atlanna and a prominent member of the military. Formerly a Nazi sympathiser and rival to his brother, they are now somewhat reconciled. The Ocean Master (commander-in-chief) of the Atlantean military.

Other Relationships

As Aquaman, Arthur has fought alongside many of modern history's various heroes. He considers Commander Steel and Red Torpedo to have been close friends, and has known two separate reincarnations of Hawkman and Hawkgirl - three, counting the recent emergence of Kendra Saunders. Of the heroes Arthur has known, John Jones is the only one with whom he retains any real contact with - though Arthur knew him primarily as Jackie and later Walt Johnson.

Beyond his brother, Arthur's greatest rival is Black Manta - an alias of the pirate David Hyde. Black Manta blamed Aquaman for the death of his father, and retaliated against the King of Atlantis through mercenary work and acts of eco-terrorism designed to spite and antagonise Arthur into yet another confrontation. Black Manta was eventually captured and imprisoned, but left behind a son, conceived with Sha'lain'a, a fugitive from the undersea Kingdom of Xebel. Arthur sympathised with the half-Atlantean child and took him in, offering to help him come to terms with being born of two seemingly incompatible worlds. Though his parents had named him Jackson Hyde, the child adopted the Atlantean name Kaldur'ahm, though he was perhaps best known by the monicker Aqualad.


  • Princess Atlanna rescues Thomas Curry from the sinking of the USS San Diego.
  • 1941:
  • Vulko approaches Arthur, imploring him to stop his half-brother Orm, who has aligned himself with the Nazis. Arthur volunteers to help the Allies, who begin to call him Aquaman.
  • 1942-1945:
  • Aquaman becomes one of the founding members of Task Force X - otherwise known as the All-Star Squadron.
  • Unknown:
  • Arthur becomes the Waterbearer, and is coronated as King Orin II, the High King of Atlantis.
  • 1987:
  • Aquaman is present during the "Crisis" that precipitates the end of the Justice Society of America, and the implementation of the Vigilante Regulation Act (VRA).
  • Unknown:
  • King Orin enters a self-imposed exile, leaving Atlantis in the charge of Mera and Orm.
  • Year One:
  • Out of Character

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