Aquaman and the War against Oceans


Aquaman and the War against Oceans

Comics Activism and Allegory in the Anthropocene

Ryan Poll

Encapsulations: Critical Comics Studies Series

268 pages
20 illustrations, index


November 2022


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
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November 2022


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2022


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

The reimagining of Aquaman in The New 52 transformed the character from a joke to an important figure of ecological justice. In Aquaman and the War against Oceans, Ryan Poll argues that in this twenty-first-century iteration, Aquaman becomes an accessible figure for charting environmental violences endemic to global capitalism and for developing a progressive and popular ecological imagination.
Poll contends that The New 52 Aquaman should be read as an allegory that responds to the crises of the Anthropocene, in which the oceans have become sites of warfare and mass death. The Aquaman series, which works to bridge the terrestrial and watery worlds, can be understood as a form of comics activism by its visualizing and verbalizing how the oceans are beyond the projects of the “human” and “humanism” and, simultaneously, are all-too-human geographies that are inextricable from the violent structures of capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy. The New 52 Aquaman, Poll demonstrates, proves an important form of ocean literacy in particular and ecological literacy more generally.

Author Bio

Ryan Poll is an associate professor of English at Northeastern Illinois University. He is the author of Main Street and Empire: The Fictional Small Town in the Age of Globalization.


"While at times a mocked superhero, DC's Aquaman has much to teach its readers about environmental justice, the Ocean, and fighting oppression during the Anthropocene."—Nicole Rehnberg, Journal of Popular Culture

Aquaman and the War against Oceans couldn’t be more important to read. It is the book for our times. Ryan Poll has written a page-turner, and not many academic texts can be called that. It is probably the smoothest integration of scholarly and journalistic sources I have yet encountered, written in a style that could be enjoyed by superhero fandom, undergraduates in an environmental humanities course, and scholars doing research on ecocriticism and superhero politics.”—Marc DiPaolo, author of Fire and Snow: Climate Fiction from the Inklings to “Game of Thrones”

“In this scholarly tour de force, Poll sonar-maps new scholarly biomes. He radically reorientates research frames and opens scholarly slipstreams to vital new ways of engaging with and adding to blue humanities, Black Atlantic, ecofeminist, and critical race studies. This is superhero comics scholarship at its best!”—Frederick Luis Aldama, author of the Eisner Award–winning Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Series Editors’ Introduction
Introduction: The New 52 Aquaman’s Allegorical Project to See beyond the Anthropocene
1. Deep in the Trenches: Monsters, Humanism, and Ecological Allegories
2. Waves of Feminism: Mera, Paradigm Shifts, and Allegories of Reading
3. The Apocalyptic Ocean: Orm, Frames of Justice, and Allegories of Radical Politics
4. Allegories of White Supremacy: Black Manta and the Black Atlantic
Afterword: The Ocean’s Black, Queer, Brown, and Indigenous Futures

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