Ever since his 1941 debut in More Fun Comics, Aquaman has faced the ire of numerous jokes even though the Atlantean king is one of the most powerful members of the Justice League. Similarly, other heroes associated with him like Aqualad and Lagoon Boy have drawn ridicule from the comic book community for various reasons.
On the other hand, Aquaman’s underwater adversaries are highly regarded by comic fans as some of the most intimidating villains in the DC pantheon. Black Manta, Dead King, and Siren are a few examples, and there are plenty more.
10 Hated: Aqualad (Jackson Hyde)
While the Teen Titans member Aqualad is largely loved by fans, his parentage does draw some suspicion towards his intentions. The son of Black Manta, Aqualad was also once used by the villain to steal an Atlantean artifact. Aqualad, thankfully, didn’t betray the Titans, but the possibility of him siding with his father always looms large.
With the character being rebooted in 2016 under the Rebirth banner, Jackson Hyde also inevitably drew comparisons with Kaldur’ahm in Young Justice, who was already popular since 2010.
9 Loved: Black Manta
The main comic book villain of Aquaman, Black Manta has had a complicated backstory that subverts the generic supervillain tropes. One of his origins finds him to be a young boy abducted and enslaved by pirates, while another reimagines him to be a child forced to undergo experiments at Arkham Asylum.
The New 52’s origin is perhaps the closest to the Aquaman’s film that explains how both Aquaman and Black Manta accidentally killed each of their respective fathers, setting ablaze a personal saga of revenge. Black Manta’s violent and unfortunate adolescence definitely draws a lot of sympathy towards him, prompting some readers to even justify the mercenary’s actions.
8 Hated: Tempest
Once known as Aqualad, Tempest has not made the most mature decisions in life. His relationship with Dolphin has been quite tumultuous in this regard, as he often lied behind her back to fight villains alongside the Teen Titans, even when she asked him to focus more on their family.
Another low point in Tempests’ life that had drawn negative reactions is the accidental killing of Syra, a fellow magic student, and his first romantic interest. Initially, he was interested in learning Atlantean magic and joined The Silent School for this reason. In Aquaman (Vol 8) #29, he was pushed by his headmaster to even learn the forbidden arts. After one of his spells goes wrong, Syra dies compelling Tempest to give up sorcery altogether.
7 Loved: Siren (Hila)
Hila, much like Black Manta, gets some sympathy for her tragic origins. An identical twin sister of the righteous and valiant Mera, she was always seen as the black sheep of her family unleashing several of her insecurities. After being falsely framed for a crime, she was even exiled along with her lover Kandor. This relationship too turned out to be toxic, as Kandor kept her under mind control and even planned on using her to trap Aquaman.
Eventually, by her own free will, she even garnered romantic feelings toward Aquaman only to complicate matters when Mera came to know. By then, Hila had become a full-fledged villain taking up the mantle of Siren. However, fans can’t help but think of her fate as being different if she had a better childhood.
6 Hated: Lagoon Boy
Lagoon Boy is definitely a strong and loyal ally to Aquaman, but his appearance, which appears to have been heavily inspired by the 1950s horror movie Creature from the Black Lagoon, doesn’t really put him in a serious light. Even though the titular creature in the classic horror film was a scary beast, Lagoon Boy might come off as a parodied version of it.
His powers are also not that notable given how many other Atlantean heroes possess speed swimming and water manipulation. One of his unique abilities might be the fact that he can blow himself up like a pufferfish—but, yet again, this only comes off as more comedic than powerful.
5 Loved: The Dead King
The Dead King is one of the strongest characters in the Aquaman comics. Once regarded as the Greatest King of Atlantis, Atlan was resurrected as a zombified superhuman who exercises immense powers over ice and water. In most of the character’s interpretations, he fights Aquaman to lay his claim on the Atlantean throne that belonged to him.
Atlan’s ruthless ways do cause collateral damage for Atlantis, but the godlike creature’s actions are purely motivated by revenge. As revealed in The New 52, his brother Orin had betrayed him and killed his wife, children, and loyalists. Distressed by his ill fate, Atlan returned years later only to sink all of Atlantis. While he ended up being a villain himself, no one deserves the pain that Atlan had to go through.
4 Hated: Superboy
Superboy has had his own standalone comic series, but he has also appeared in several Aquaman storylines assisting the Atlantean hero or even going against him. The issue with Superboy’s character is that he often comes off as bratty, and his decisions can be quite impulsive.
His numerous romantic endeavors can also serve as a distraction, and, if all this weren’t enough, he also holds high opinions of himself that often put him at loggerheads with Justice League heroes such as Aquaman and Green Lantern.
3 Loved: Ocean Master
Ocean Master’s costume might come off as a bit too flashy for some readers, but, in terms of his personality, the character’s grey areas make him a worthy foe. A half-brother to Aquaman, King Orm A.K.A. Ocean Master has tried killing him on many occasions chiefly because he sees himself as the rightful guardian of Atlantis.
However, this murderous rage doesn’t take away his rationality as oftentimes, he has also shown his sympathetic side. A case in point would be the time when he saved surface people in The New 52 and even started a family. In recent years, Orm has become more of an antihero than a standard villain.
2 Hated: Aquaman
Aquaman has been rebooted several times, but his hilarious Golden Age comic book versions still turn him into a laughing stock every now and then. But, even in his modern storylines, Arthur Curry isn’t as flawless as he’s projected to be. Despite his intense romance with Mera, he has cheated on her at times, mainly with Dolphin and Mera’s own twin Hila.
His reluctance to ascend on the Atlantean throne has also been a bad strategic decision, as it only gave Ocean Master more reasons to usurp power and unleash his reign of extreme violence towards the surface people. Aquaman knows that his rule would bring balance between the two realms, but he still chose to leave the Throne of Atlantis , only taking it back after the damage had already been done.
1 Loved: King Shark
Even though he has had a few moments as an antihero, King Shark has mostly had an antagonistic stint in DC comics serving as the nemesis of Aquaman, Superboy, and many other heroes.
However, it’s hard to hate the character because of the impact of King Shark’s depictions in other media. The Suicide Squad has introduced a highly likable version of Nanaue, which has further regenerated interest in King Shark’s comic stories. Even though the smell of blood can unleash the Shark’s beastly side, King Shark is on his way to becoming a fan-favorite villain.