Ryan Poll, "Aquaman and the War Against Oceans: Comics Activism and Allegory in the Anthropocene" (U Nebraska Press, 2022)


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In Aquaman and the War against Oceans (University of Nebraska Press, 2022), Ryan Poll explores ways the New 52 reimagining of Aquaman--a massive overhaul and rebranding of all DC Comics--transformed the character from a joke to an important figure of ecological justice. In this series, Aquaman becomes an accessible figure for charting environmental violences endemic to global capitalism and for developing a progressive and popular ecological imagination. Poll argues 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 a site of warfare and mass death. Poll contends that the series, which works to bridge the terrestrial and watery worlds, can be understood as a form of comics activism by visualizing and verbalizing how the oceans are both beyond the projects of the "human" and "humanism," and simultaneously, 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.

Rebekah Buchanan is a Professor of English and Director of English Education at Western Illinois University. Her research focuses on feminism, activism, and literacy practices in youth culture, specifically through zines and music.

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