Aquaman: King of Atlantis

aquaman king of atlantis tv show





Paul Asay

TV Series Review

Is it good to be the king? Is it really?

Aquaman, the new King of Atlantis, isn’t so sure.

Honestly, life was easier when he just had to beat up evil space lords. But ever since he assumed the uncomfortable throne of Atlantis from his evil half-brother, Ocean Master, Aquaman has been beset by problems. Waves of problems, you might say. And it doesn’t help that Ocean Master tries to usurp the kingship every few minutes.

Mera (Aquaman’s girlfriend) thinks Ocean Master could use a good punch in the nose. But that’s her way. Meanwhile, trusted advisor Vulko is less a man of action and more a man of getting forms filled out in triplicate. He was pretty thrilled when Aquaman first took on the kingship, given that Ocean Master had long ignored Vulko’s growing list of bureaucratic tasks. But is Aquaman really the sort of monarch to enjoy ribbon-cutting ceremonies?

Maybe Mera’s right: Ruling a kingdom is so much easier when it involves a lot of punching.

HBO Max’s Tide and Buoy

Aquaman: King of Atlantis (on HBO Max and Cartoon Network)—much to Aquaman’s relief—does involve a lot of punching. He, Mera and Vulko must deal not just with the stubbornly evil Ocean Master (whom everyone decides to keep around the palace for some reason), but with mysterious time-space anomalies that may (or may not) have something to do with a big, magic crystal powered by a double-A battery. It’s the sort of story that allows Aquaman to literally flex his muscles. And let’s be honest: The show would not have much chance of success if it revolved around Atlantean budget meetings.

All that punching, of course, may give some parents pause when it comes to this animated TV-PG show. This cartoon is awash with violence, you might say, with characters taking plenty of punishment down in the briny, brawny deep. But that (along with some prominent, clothed, animated buttocks) mostly sum up the show’s biggest content concerns.

King of Atlantis feels a bit like Adventure Time, but without the bleak backdrop and more explicitly adult-oriented asides. It seems like its appeal would be mainly to older kids who like a little tongue in their cheek, but to kids nevertheless. It pokes a bit of fun at Aquaman even as it continues his story (seeming to pick up right where the Jason Momoa movie left off). And the show is clever enough that Moms and Dads might enjoy it, too.

And while the series is unquestionably violent, no one dies or even gets seriously hurt here. Sure, Ocean Master may look like a pile of mangled body parts, à la Wile E. Coyote after a tumble off a cliff. But you just know he’ll be fit as a fiddle the next time Aquaman dares walk away from the throne for a minute or two.

No, it may not be good to be the king. But when it comes to presiding over your very own show, Aquaman: King of Atlantis does it better than most.

Episode Reviews

Oct. 14, 2021: “Dead Sea”

Aquaman, the newly minted King of Atlantis, zips away from the palace to investigate Outpost 4, which hasn’t been heard from in seven years. Why didn’t the previous king look into it himself? “Ocean Master said that no one should investigate it because he didn’t care,” Vulko explains. When Aquaman and Mera arrive near where Outpost 4 should be, though, they find something no one could’ve expected: A stretch of “ocean” without water.

“That’s probably bad, right?” Aquaman asks.

That miles-wide patch of land is being mined by a fellow named Pietar Mortikov (perhaps a variation on longtime Aquaman foe Peter Mortimer), who uncovers treasures there aided by a legion of robotic hands. Mortikov and those hands ultimately fight with Aquaman, Mera and other denizens of the once-briny deep: Baseball bats (some made out of water) become prime instruments of punishment, along with Aquaman’s triton. (We also see plenty of hands, feet and fish do damage, as well). While plenty of robot hands are torn apart (sometimes showing a bit of electronic innards), none of the living combatants seem seriously harmed. (One land-dweller nearly drowns, though, before being saved.)

Aquaman and Mera fight with sea-dwelling criminal elements, too. (We hear they pillaged Outpost Four plenty before it disappeared.) A falling structure nearly dooms everyone. Aquaman (given his ability to talk with fish) indulges a somewhat disturbing taste for grilled sea creatures. (We see many, many dead-and-grilled fish, some with telltale bites in their carcasses.) Aquaman thumps Ocean Master on the noggin with his triton, knocking him out in order to reclaim his throne (which Ocean Master had usurped for a few seconds when Aquaman refused to fight him. It’s “a terrible way to pick a king,” Aquaman muses.)

We see some well-defined animated backsides (and a bit of cleavage on Mera). Mera runs an underwater car into a whale. She asks Aquaman whether she should apologize, but he says no. “You do not want to know what she was saying,” he says. Mera manipulates water with her mind. Someone calls citizens of Outpost 4 “rubes.” Mera and Aquaman kiss each other on the cheek a couple of times.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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