Warning: SPOILERS for DC's Aquaman comic
It seems like just yesterday that Aquaman skeptics were predicting Zack Snyder and Jason Momoa's version was simply a bad idea. Now, the DCEU version of the King of Atlantis has been folded into the comics even further, with Arthur Curry being given his movie counterpart's signature tattoos.
The fate of the Justice League film means the negatives will outweigh the positives in hindsight. But when considering every part of Batman v Superman, there may be no bigger, bolder risk than taking the classic Caucasian, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, clean-cut Aquaman, and replacing him with a Polynesian Poseidon, covered in jewelry and tattoos. The risk paid off, and helped set up James Wan to deliver a previously unthinkable billion-dollar Aquaman movie. So is it any surprise that DC Comics are taking some cues, as well?
To be clear, this isn't to suggest that the Aquaman movie is being emulated, or 'copied' by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Robson Rocha, or Viktor Bogdanovic. And longtime DC fans are always quick to point out that the Arthur Curry of the 1990s--an era of infamously 'gritty, edgy antiheroes'--sported long hair and a beard, as well as a hook-hand to match. But the fact remains: Momoa's image stunned most fans... but won over far more in the end. Before long the comic book Aquaman got a Momoa-esque makeover, and in the pages of Aquaman #47 Arthur finally gets some familiar tattoos of his own, completing his new look. See for yourselves:
To give credit where it's due, DeConnick's story offers an even more explicit meaning behind the tattoos. In the comic story, they aren't your standard 'tattoos' made of ink, but a gift presented to Arthur Curry as a means of marking him a hero, among the Old Gods of the sea. Without memory of who he is, or where he comes from, it's a sign of Aquaman the man, completely separated from his legacy. The tattoos follow Arthur from this issue forward, as a visual reminder of the physical, spiritual, and emotional journey he's taken before returning to the life he once lived (a return only now being approached in the comics).
By comparison, the meaning of Aquaman's tattoos can be deciphered mainly through their significance in real world, Polynesian cultural beliefs and tradition. But when you consider the fact that Jason Momoa's own shark tooth arm tattoo is the basis of his Aquaman's sleeves, and in tribute to his family's shark deity, and compare it to Arthur's new sleeves, granted as part of a journey to commune with a 'Mother Shark' goddess... well, something special is happening in the pages of DC Comics.
Whether intentional or not--whether planned out, conceived of, or introduced as explicit homage with a wink and a nod--the Aquaman that exists in DC's Universe is now different, after Jason Momoa, Zack Snyder, and James Wan showed how much new life could be breathed into Arthur Curry's character. And that is about as cool as comic books, and comic book movies can get.
Aquaman #49 is available now at your local comic book shop, and direct from DC Comics.