The Adventures of Aquaman a while ago, but I’ve struggled with figuring out what to say about it. In every way that counts, it’s exactly like the Aquaman comics from the same time period: full of fantastic ideas that are only sketched out in a very broad, general way.
Some of that’s the result of the format. The episodes were originally created for The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure (1967-68), which also featured Superman cartoons as well as a segment that rotated through other DC heroes like the JLA, Teen Titans, and some of their individual members. Because of this, each story is only about six to seven minutes long, so that’s not a lot of time to develop anything.
The typical episode involves Aquaman and Aqualad’s foiling a villain-of-the-week’s attempt to conquer Atlantis. Some of the villains do recur, so there’s a bit of continuity, but for the most part there’s a steady stream of new threats each episode. That’s not a flaw. It’s actually where the fantastic ideas come in. Writers Bob Haney and George Kashdan (who were also writing many of DC’s comics at the same time) came up with countless bad guys to throw at the Sea King, most of whom were pretty cool: whether supervillains, aliens, or another undersea race.
Bob Haney’s involvement in the show brings to mind his comment about the comics he wrote. “The PR research that [DC] had done showed[…]the average reader was a 12-year-old boy living in Dayton, Ohio. Who was not that sophisticated. So a lot of my stuff I wrote in the ‘60s was aimed at him. Generic little boy. It was simple stuff. It was not sophisticated.” I imagine the same approach applied to his and the other writers’ work on the Aquaman cartoon. It’s not that they couldn’t have made it good. It’s just that they didn’t have to.
I’m glad I did it though. If nothing else, it made me appreciate some truly great cartoons like Thundarr the Barbarian. But that’s a post for another day.