Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom has arrived! This follow-up to the 2018 blockbuster that helped establish Jason Momoa as the seaworthy superhero mixes family driven drama with full-throttle action and imaginative settings that will leave you wanting more. And there is more…in comics. So, if you exit the James Wan-directed film longing to spend more time beneath the waves, we suggest “Hitting Bottom,” a storyline that laid the groundwork for the big screen version of Aquaman decades before Momoa auditioned for the role. This is where Aquaman transformed from a traditional superhero to the long-haired bearded warrior with a harpoon for a hand.

If you want to read “Hitting Bottom,” there are a few ways to do it. The storyline can be found in print in the trade paperback Aquaman by Peter David Book One. It can also be read on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE in its original individual issues, Aquaman (1994) #0-8. (A note if you decide to read it this way—issue #0 is meant to be read between issues #2 and #3.)

The Premise:

Aquaman has seen better days. Arthur (who was called Orin during this era) has lost his kingdom and is a few years into a separation with Mera. Overcome with depression, Orin has been spending his days wallowing in his former headquarters, the Aquacave. Little does he realize that his life is about to change forever.

When the US government asks Aquaman to investigate a sunken nuclear submarine, the former monarch finds himself pitted against a terrorist named Charybdis. Orin loses his left hand during the conflict, forcing him to adapt. How will this affect his role as protector of the ocean, or his budding relationship with the mysterious heroine known as Dolphin?

As Orin reevaluates his life, he begins to seek out his heritage. However, while searching for his father, he instead finds Koryak, an illegitimate son he never knew he had. How will Aquaman react to this second chance at fatherhood, and what mysterious forces are lurking in the darkest depths of the ocean?

Let’s Talk Talent:

“Hitting Bottom” is written by Peter David, one of the sharpest writers in the DC Universe. You’ll see as you read his dialogue. Banter is one of David’s strengths, with his dialogue containing lots of energy. Of course, he’s no slouch when it comes to action either. David fills the scene with insane action sequences, including a memorable sequence where Orin summons a tsunami of whales.

This storyline features dynamic penciling from Marty Egeland, Gene Gonzales, Jim Calafiore and Casey Jones. In addition to setting the stage, their artwork helped shape Aquaman’s dramatic new characterization. Take a look at how Egeland illustrates Orin. The character just oozes with attitude. In fact, I would go as far to say that if it wasn’t for these images, Jason Momoa might never have been cast as Aquaman.

A Few Reasons to Read:

  • If you’re a fan of Momoa’s take on Aquaman, this storyline is almost certainly what inspired his look. The first issue features a disheveled Aquaman in his original costume, but by the end, he’s had a complete makeover. The ’90s was full of lots of superhero makeovers, and this was by far one of the most successful ones.
  • Peter David’s run on Aquaman wasn’t afraid to take risks. Aquaman loses his hand in issue #2, and discovers he has an illegitimate son in issue #5. Reading this “Hitting Bottom,” you quickly get the sense that there are no sacred cows, and anything can happen.
  • “Hitting Bottom” features some fun uses of Aquaman’s powers. For example, when Superboy tells Orin that he can’t enter a military base, the Atlantean hero returns—with a tsunami of whales. Don’t piss off Aquaman.
  • Lobo shows up, and if you know anything about the Main Man, it’s that he loves dolphins. This proves to be a real bonding moment between Lobo and Aquaman as they rough up some aquatic poachers.
  • The introduction of Koryak gives us a side of Aquaman that we don’t see often—Orin as a father. Koryak is no Aquababy. He’s a moody teenager who has just as much attitude as his father. The complicated father-son relationship is one of the biggest challenges we’ve ever seen Aquaman face.

Why It’s Worth Your Time:

It’s not an understatement to say that “Hitting Bottom” is one of the most important storylines in Aquaman’s publishing history. In less than a year, Peter David and the art team were able to remake Orin’s entire character, visually and from a personality standpoint. They were able to build on Aquaman’s history, honoring what came before, while forging a bright new future for the character.

Plus, it’s a fun reading experience. The battle sequences are fun, the drama is great and there is so much going on. As you read “Hitting Bottom,” as well as the rest of David’s run, it’s not hard to see the pieces Zack Snyder, James Wan and Jason Momoa used to craft the cinematic version of the character. The storyline may be called “Hitting Bottom,” but as a reading experience, everything is tops.

Aquaman by Peter David Book One, featuring “Hitting Bottom,” is available in bookstores, comic shops, libraries and as a digital graphic novel. You can also read “Hitting Bottom” in full on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE.

Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Joshua Lapin-Bertone and do not necessarily reflect those of DC or Warner Bros. Discovery, nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.