While I can’t imagine Jesus actually challenging Aquaman to a fight, I couldn’t help but laugh at this image. I think it also highlights Aquaman’s role as the laughingstock of the superhero community. He seems to be the butt of every superhero joke. I still love the Cartoon Network commercial featuring Aquaman and Wonder Woman. As the two heroes dangerously dangle above a pool of boiling acid, Aquaman announces, “My ability to talk with fish is of no help, Wonder Woman.” The Amazon Princess just rolls her eyes and waits for the Power Puff Girls to come to their rescue. During Geoff Johns’ run as writer on Aquaman’s comic series, he chose to incorporate this lack of appreciation into the story. In issue #1, Aquaman leaps into action when a gang of thieves steals an armored truck full of cash. The criminals lead the cops on a high-speed chase through downtown Boston until Aquaman intervenes. When the thieves see the superhero standing in the street ahead of them, one of them asks, “Dude, is that… Aquaman!?” Suddenly the whole crew bursts into laughter. Even the cops don’t give Aquaman much credit. One officer blurts out, “What’s Aquaman doing here? We’re not in the ocean and I don’t see any fish around…” Despite having some pretty cool powers and abilities, it seems like the King of Atlantis is just doomed to be overlooked and underrated.
I think the one-time King of Israel could probably relate. In 1 Samuel 16, God sent the prophet Samuel to anoint a new king for God’s people. The Lord sent Samuel to Bethlehem and told him, “Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king” (1 Samuel 16:1 NLT). When Samuel arrived, Jesse presents seven of his sons. Samuel examines the boys one at a time like canines on a leash. Imagine the list of qualifications that must have run through Samuel’s mind for such a position: tall, smart, articulate, brave, groomed, well-mannered, a natural-born leader. Seven sons strut their stuff, but all seven fall short. Samuel passes on each of Jesse’s sons and then asks, “Are these all the sons you have?” I imagine Jesse with a quizzical expression replying, “There is still the youngest … He is tending the sheep” (1 Samuel 16:11, NIV). In time, young David will go on to slay giants and conquer kingdoms. The Son of God will be called the Son of David. The greatest psalms—many of which we still sing today—will flow from his pen. We’ll call him king, warrior, minstrel, and giant-killer. But on this day, he wasn’t even invited to dinner with the family. Like Aquaman, David was overlooked and underrated.