Our first entry today in the 2020 PopCult Gift Guide is a triple-pick, three volumes of some of the best Aquaman comics ever published, in beautful hardcover editions. These are the perfect gift for fans of the Aquaman movie who want to see the roots of the character, and it’s also great for any fan of quality Silver Age superhero comics or great comic book art.

All three volumes are still in print and easy to find. You can order them with their ISBN codes, or you may find them online for a discounted price.

Aquaman: The Search for Mera Deluxe Edition
by Steve Skeates and Jim Aparo
DC Comics

First up we have a book that collects the first half of the acclaimed run of Aquaman issues by writer, Steve Skeates and artist, Jim Aparo. These were original published in 1968 and 1969.

Mera, the queen of Atlantis, mysteriously disappears, and Aquaman begins searching high and low to find her. In addition, Atlantis is in the grip of a new enemy named Narkran, a duplicitous politician with plans to rule the underwater kingdom with an iron fist. And finally, as if that isn’t bad enough, Black Manta shows up to take advantage of Aquaman’s desperate situation.

Over fifty years ago, writer Steve Skeates and artist Jim Aparo began their acclaimed tenure on Aquaman with this epic nine-issue tale of Mera’s disappearance and Aquaman’s frantic quest to get her back. Collected now in a new Deluxe Edition, Aquaman: The Search for Mera Deluxe Edition includes Aquaman #40-48.

The action then picks right up with…

Aquaman: Deadly Waters The Deluxe Edition
by Steve Skeates and Jim Aparo
DC Comics
ISBN-13 : 978-1779502940

This is the second volume that collects the acclaimed but underexposed run of Aquaman stories originally published in the late 1960s and early 1970s by DC Comics. Aquaman: Deadly Waters The Deluxe Edition is a great example of “relelvant” comics of the day, that addressed topical and political issues in ways that are not as heavy-handed as some of the more recent comics tend to be.

This volume collects the remaining issues of Aquaman’s first solo comic book, including a three-part Deadman back-strip written and drawn by Neal Adams, which told a parallel story that seamlessly integrates into the lead stories featuring Aquaman. It’s a great example of editorial symmetry on the part of editor Dick Giordano and his storytellers.

A nice touch with this collection (one not listed on the index pages) is that DC has included two text pages, written by Skeates at the time, that give a lot of the background of the creation of some of these stories. It’s a nice bonus, since they did not include any other text material to give us any historical context.

This volume ends with the final issue of Aquaman, from 1971. However, the character would not stay dormant.

Aquaman: The Death of a Prince Deluxe Edition
by David Micheline, Jim Aparo, Mike Grell, Don Newton and others
DC Comics
ISBN-13 : 978-1779500953

Three years after his first solo series ended, Aquaman turned up in the pages of Adventure Comics, first as a back-up feature, but eventually as the lead feature for a few issues before graduating to his own revived solo title. During this run, Steve Skeates returned to write a few entries, working with artist, Mike Grell, on the back-up strips. Skeates departed, and was replaced by Paul Levitz and then David Micheline as Jim Aparo returned to the art chores. Eventually other creators completed the run reprinted in this collection.

Skeates and Aparo did reunite one last time, and that story is included here. When Aparo left the series for a final time, he was replaced by Don Newton, who, like Aparo broke into the business drawing The Phantom for Charlton, and eventually wound up as a longtime artist on Batman.

After being dethroned by his own people and sent into exile, Aquaman discovers a conspiracy within his Kingdom. Rather than reclaim his birthright, he decides to become a super-hero. But even Aquaman cannot escape tragedy as Black Manta kidnaps and kills his infant son! The crushing blow threatens his relationship with his beloved wife, Mera. How Aquaman copes with these crushing blows comes to define him as the hero we know today.

Collects Adventure Comics #435-437, 441-445 and Aquaman #57-63.

Together these books contain over 700 pages of terrific Aquaman adventures, and any fan of the The King of Atlantis would love to add these to their library.