I Heart ACK-WA-MAN*

There is something comforting in the rift we have as children between fantasy and reality.

When I was a kid, there were two beagles in my life. There was Snoopy. Everyone had Snoopy.

And then there was the "beagle" my Aunt and Uncle owned. She was elderly, obese, and toothless. Her tongue lolled in a perpetual pant over the left side of her mouth without any barrier to keep it contained in her head. Her name was Hyphen. She was nothing like Snoopy, and I decided she could not possibly be a beagle because there was no reconciling Hyphen with Snoopy. And anyway, who names a dog after a punctuation mark? Snoopy and Hyphen did not occupy the same universe. Hyphen was an obscurity; an unknown in the beagle world.

While I will now freely label Hyphen of the beagle breed, it took me until last year to admit that Aquaman is not considered by most people I have surveyed** to be a top-tier superhero. His power to telepathically communicate with ocean creatures has been mocked and ridiculed by many. Sufferin’ starfish!

Spiderman is cool. Batman is cool. Aquaman is NOT cool. Some would insist they do not occupy the same universe.

I am a geek for not realizing this sooner, I know. But I freely admit to my personal geekiness and make regular overt attempts to turn my children geeky as well. (For help with the geekification of children, I recommend Bringing up Geeks by Marybeth Hicks.) This includes subjecting them to the early episodes of Little House on the Prairie and reading a somewhat obscure Australian novel about a talking pudding.

And now thanks to the The Complete Collection of The Adventures of Aquaman I have 36 episodic chances to convince Child the Elder that there is nothing better than rounding up sea creatures in defense of Atlantis against the evil Vassa, Queen of the Mermen while riding a giant snowy seahorse named Storm. Look out, Aqualad!

Perhaps it is my lifelong fascination with all things ocean-related, but Spiderman and Batman just never measured up to a guy who battles mechanical whales and mutant plankton.

I dare you to watch it without reveling in a satisfying universe where good always triumphs. It is a relief to dive down below the reality of our recessionary realm to a place where bad guys can be vanquished with a few compressed balls of water and a school of obedient yet determined fish. The corny and hilarious dialog is a bonus. And you just may ask yourself, "Why does every last villain aim to smash the glass bubble surrounding Atlantis and drown its hapless air-breathing inhabitants? Do they hate the Atlanteans for their captivity?"

Great Gastropods! Long live Ack-wa-man*, and long may he reign.

*The proper pronunciation, according to the television series.

**Not a scientific survey. Includes many disdainful children of my relation or acquaintance and one sarcastic husband.