Aqualad: Who is The Aquatic Titan?

Hydro Hero

Kaldur’ahm: “Have you ever wondered what would have happened if I had stayed behind and you had become Aqualad?
Garth: [lying] “No. Never.
Kaldur’ahm: [also lying] “Neither have I.

Young Justice, “Downtime” (Season 1, Episode 8)

A ship glides through international waters as its crew hunts for whales. They find a prime specimen. One of the hunters mounts the harpoon cannon. He fires, but a human hand snatches the harpoon before it hits. A figure jumps from the ocean and lands on the deck. The figure is a teenager wearing scaled armor.

A hunter rushes the teen, but is knocked out with one punch. A second hunter grabs a speargun, but is restrained by a tendril made of water. The teen raises a hand and fires an electric blast that kills the man. The final hunter takes his chances with the ocean and jumps overboard. As he jumps, he notices shark fins circling the boat. Aqualad ignores the screams as he sinks the boat.

Aqualad was one of DC Comics’ lamest sidekicks. He was a worse version of Robin, apprenticed to Aquaman, and widely considered a joke by casual fans. DC has spent decades trying to make Aqualad cool. Have they succeeded? Who is this sidekick anyway? And why are there two Aqualads swimming around? Let’s find out.

Idealistic Prince: Aqualad’s Backstory

Aqualad:Fish tacos?! What were you thinking! I’m from the ocean! These were probably friends of mine!
Speedy:You said get lunch, I got lunch. Chow down.

Teen Titans “Titans East” (Season 3, Episode 13)

Aqualad debuted in Adventure Comics #269 in 1960. He was created by Robert Bernstein and Ramona Fradon. He is also the prince of Atlantis’ sibling species, The Idyllists.

Prince Garth was the son of King Thar and Queen Berra. His evil uncle Zath attempted to conquer the kingdom, but was stopped when King Thar broke the Idyllists’ taboo and created weapons. The Idyllists rebelled, executing King Thar and banishing the pregnant Berra. 

Berra gave birth to Garth, but was forced to abandon him after seeing he had purple eyes, a bad omen in their culture. She placed Garth into a capsule that would keep him alive and sent it into the sea. Aquaman would later find this capsule and adopt Garth as his ward. He eventually grew from ward to sidekick and took the name Aqualad.

Aqualad gained allies when he began fighting crime. A team up with Robin and Kid Flash led to the formation of the Teen Titans. Aqualad also fell in love with Tula, an Atlantean superhero called Aquagirl. Things were looking up for Aqualad, but they were about to get bad fast.

Lost at Sea: Aqualad’s History

Aqualad: “If I’m destined to be this great undersea defender, I can’t very well go around calling myself “Garth”, can I? From now on…You can call me Tempest!

Tempest #2

Aqualad developed an inferiority complex from constantly being in Aquaman’s shadow. This caused him to faint while helping the Titans. Aqualad temporarily quit the Titans in order to sort out his mental issues. To make matters worse, Tula was murdered by the monster Chemo during the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Aqualad went on a self-discovery journey, but found more than he bargained for. He encountered the ghost of Atlan, Aquaman’s father. The spirit revealed that Aqualad had great magical potential and trained him in the mystic arts. Garth abandoned the Aqualad moniker after training and took the name Tempest. Atlan left him with a final warning: something was happening to the Idyllic kingdom.

Tempest arrived to find the kingdom a war-torn ghost town. He soon encountered Tula’s ghost who told him of a magical ritual that would give him power. Unfortunately, it was a trap and the ritual instead unleashed Zath, who had been transformed into an eldritch monster. Tempest led the Idyllic survivors in a final battle and defeated Zath, sealing him away forever. 

Tempest’s long Titans career ended in the event series Blackest Night. While discussing funeral plans for a recently killed Aquaman, the king returned to life as a zombie Black Lantern. Zombie Aquaman was quickly joined by an equally undead Tula and the two of them tore Tempest apart. What is it with undead Aquagirls screwing over Tempest?

Tempest returned in the DC relaunch New 52, but has mostly stayed on the sidelines. A new Aqualad named Kaldur’ahm was introduced to cash in on his popularity in Young Justice. And to really make things strange, this Aqualad is the son of Aquaman’s archenemy, Black Manta.

Sorcerer of the Seas: Aqualad’s Powers and Personality

Garth: [casting a spell] “I summon the power of The Tempest!

Young Justice, “Downtime” (Season 1, Episode 8)

Aqualad is powerful by Atlantean standards. He has superhuman strength, speed and durability. He can command sea-life like Aquaman, swim 85 miles per hour, and possesses enhanced senses. Unfortunately, Aqualad suffers from color blindness and quickly loses his powers if he stays out of water too long.

Aqualad gained all sorts of magical tricks upon becoming Tempest. His spells include elemental manipulation, laser eyes, teleportation, various seer abilities, demon summoning, and the ability to sense magic. The god Darkseid once used Tempest as a conduit to send the monster Imperiex into the Big Bang, implying that he can also use time travel. Tempest cannot use his time powers without an external energy source.

Aqualad is kind, courageous, and polite. He still suffers from an inferiority complex, but it no longer causes physical problems. He began struggling with anger towards the end of his life, but managed to get over it shortly before the end.

The Actors who play Aqualad

Jerry Dexter – The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure
Wil Wheaton – Teen Titans, Teen Titans Go!
Zack Shada – Batman: the Brave and the Bold.
Yuri Lowenthal – Young Justice
Drew Van Acker – Titans

Didya Get All That?

Underwater Moses turned underwater savior.

Aqualad image courtesy DC Entertainment

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