As the semi-Atlantic ruler of the civilizations of the undersea world, Aquaman swims in an ocean of enemies. Some lie in the deepest parts of the sea while others hide behind court robes in the throne room of Atlantis. Of course, Aquatic Ace’s time with the Justice League has given him his fair share of surface-dwelling enemies as well.
As a character that’s been continually deployed since the Golden Age, Aquaman’s fights range in tone from the silly to the serious. The past eighty years have seen the protectors of the deep quarrel spar with characters of all stripes, but few have risen above the rest.
10 Qwsp is Mr. Malicious Mxyzptlk
For a time in DC Comics, every major hero had a malevolent evil force that was causing problems in their lives. Superman had Mr. Mxyzptlk, Batman had Bat-Mite, and Aquaman had Qwsp. An imp from the fifth dimension, Qwsp (Quisp I) had reality-faking powers that he used to help Aquaman and also prank him.
However, the ’90s saw a strain in their relationship when Qwsp returned to Earth after a period of separation and encountered a newer and darker Aquaman. Qwsp changed his character to suit, but in doing so he became a villain. Qwsp’s increasing power required the intervention of both the Justice League and the Council of Multidimensional Orcs to fight back.
9 The scavenger is a ’60s villain turned evil
Just like every DC hero has a sinister enemy with amazing powers, they also have a variety of tech-wielding villains from the 1960s science fiction. Peter Mortimer, also known as Scavenger, is one of Aquaman’s enemies. He’s the bastard who’s looking for treasure at the bottom of the ocean.
The first scavenger has a complex history. After Aquaman fights for an alien being called the Time Decelerator, Scavenger’s particles are blasted through the Limbo-esque dimension. After repairing his particles, Aquaman fought back and seemed to have switched to the side of good. However, his moral reform did not last, as Hawkman killed Scavenger for creating and possessing violent pornography.
8 Siren is Mira’s evil twin
While two villains named Siren have threatened Aquaman, the most dangerous is the first. Hela, the twin sister of Myra, Queen of Atlantis and Aquaman’s romantic partner, was the single sister of her family, leading to rebellion and then violence against the King of Atlantis.
Siren’s stories often stem from her family jealousy. As an identical twin, she often impersonates her sister to fool Aquaman. Siren also led the Death Squad, a group of elite underwater mercenaries, in an attempt to help the Black Manta find his biological son and kill Aquaman.
7 Nereus is a rival king of Aquaman in DC Comics
As the King of Atlantis, Aquaman must face various attempts on his throne. One such competitor is Nereus, a military leader from the kingdom of Xebel. An underwater kingdom sometimes at war with Atlantis, Xebel princess Myra from her fiancé, Nereus, one day disappeared.
When Myra returns and reveals that she has fallen in love with the King of Atlantis, Nereus refuses to accept it. Instead, he directed the Xebellian armies against Mira and her partner for not siding with Atlan, the original king of Atlantis, when he returned a thousand years later. Despite his defeat, Nereus escaped from Aquaman and sought an alliance with the Ocean Master.
6 The trench is a feral fish – humans
When Geoff Johns set his sights on Aquaman as part of the New 52 relaunch, he revitalized the character, just as he did with Green Lantern and The Flash. Johns expands on the Aquaman lore and introduces the concept of Seven Kingdoms Under the Sea, many of which are featured in the 2018 film, Aquaman. Undoubtedly, the most terrifying of them was the trench.
A hominin-like species of fish that lives in the Marianas Trench, the trench adapted to its lightless environment after Atlantis smashed into the trench thousands of years ago. Neither good nor evil, the ditch follows everyone who uses the dead king’s scepter.
5 Charybdis makes Aquaman lose his hand
When DC rebooted their main characters for a darker, sadder ’90s, Aquaman and his bright orange jacket needed a major makeover. Enter Charybdis, a terrorist who has the ability to steal other people’s powers. Seeking to kill Aquaman, he and his wife, Scylla, lead Aquaman, Dolphin, and Aqualad into a trap.
The confrontation did not go well, and Sherbedes killed Scylla. Aquaman pursues Charybdis to Earth, where, in an attempt to get Aquaman to use his power, the villain forces his left hand into a group of piranhas. Aquaman loses his hand and Charybdis falls into the water, merging with the fish to become Piranha Man.
4 Atlan built and destroyed Atlantis
Aquaman (also known as Arthur Curry) was not the first king of Atlantis. This honor went to Atlan, the wise ruler who saw the land grow into seven kingdoms under his rule. However, Atlan’s brother, Oren, was angry that his brother was allowed to interracially mix and kill the entire royal family as punishment. His heart was broken, and Atlan flooded his kingdom with the seven mystical weapons he had forged.
Atlan slept for centuries until finally brought back to life by Fulko. Now passed by the dead king, Atlan seeks to destroy Atlantis once and for all, uniting Trench and Xebel behind him to wage war against Aquaman.
3 The hunter has a Lovecraftian secret
The fisherman is one of Aquaman’s most mysterious enemies. A masked pirate who specializes in theft, the fisherman uses a fishing-themed gimmick to pull off his heist. However, the fisherman was thwarted several times by Aquaman’s forces at the bottom of the sea.
The hunter appeared alone and with groups like the Kobra and the Society, making it difficult for the heroes to read the identity of the hunter. This is because the hunter is not a man but a space parasite that attaches itself to the host’s heads and takes the form of a hood, inflating the fear-filled host to do his thing.
2 Ocean Master is Aquaman’s tragic brother
The story of Orm, the master of the ocean, is a tragic one. Traditionally, Orm is the half-brother of Arthur Curry, at least by love if not by blood. However, his brother’s heroic actions made Ocean Master extremely jealous, leading him into an endless spiral of failed revenge plots.
Alternately, the Ocean Master has been portrayed as a human pirate, human magician, and a xenophobic Atlantean noble. Orm’s actions ranged from egregious violence to petty crimes, something often interpreted in the universe as mental manipulation or amnesia. However, Ocean Master’s attacks on the surface world gave him a place in the capital’s highest circle of superillainy.
1 Black Manta is the most famous enemy in Aquaman
The red-eyed Black Manta helmet is perhaps the most famous image in the Aquaman Rogue Gallery, worn by a man dedicated to the destruction of Aquaman. Much like the Ocean Master, the Black Manta has a variety of assets, ranging from a kidnapped child who didn’t hear Aquaman scream for help to an autistic kid who was violently tested in the Arkham Asylum, and finally as a mercenary hired to steal Aquaman’s blood.
Regardless of its origin, the Black Manta is always a thorn in Aquaman’s side. He has attempted to steal Aquaman’s throne, joined forces with malicious teams, and most notably killed Aquaman’s infant son in front of him. Cunning, ruthless, and driven, Black Manta is Aquaman’s greatest enemy.
Next up: Green Lantern’s 10 Greatest Villains, ranked