Title text: I can't believe I'm saying this, but I wish Aquaman were here instead--HE'D be able to help.
This comic is a take on the traditional appearance of a super hero when a disaster strikes. In this case, Etymology-Man arrives, who apparently has the power of Etymology — the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time. As Etymology-Man is explaining the history of the words "tsunami" and "tidal wave", the water starts rising around them. As the waters continue to rise, he continues to only explain the words, rather than attempting to save them as a superhero should. The comic is a dig at academics who prefer to talk about issues when taking action is more appropriate.
Also, the title text is a play on how useless Aquaman is (perceived to be) compared to other superheroes, as his powers — breathing underwater, speed swimming, and communicating with sea life — are very difficult for writers to make relevant. Indeed, in the case of a flood, Aquaman and his aquatic allies would be able to assist with evacuations.
The irony of the situation comes from the fact that Etymology-Man also has the power of flight and could in fact save Cueball and Ponytail if he was not so busy talking about the origin of the word "tidal wave".
Etymology-man returns two comics later in 1012: Wrong Superhero.
Inexplicable is the fact that Cueball and Ponytail both know exactly who this "superhero" is, and ergo presumably realize that what he is telling them is useless, but they don't even attempt to get to safety. Perhaps they are simply accepting their fate instead of trying to escape, however, or even that learning cool word facts takes precendence over saving their own lives.
- Cueball: Earthquake!
- Ponytail: We should get to a higher ground - There could be a tidal wave.
- [Cueball takes a pedantic pose]
- Cueball: You mean a tsunami. "Tidal wave" means a wave caused by tides.
- [A crash is heard, followed by Etymology-Man flying in while wearing a cape.]
- Etymology-man: You know, that doesn't add up.
- Cueball and Ponytail: Etymology-man!
- [Etymology-man takes a pedantic pose.]
- Etymology-man: What does "tidal wave" mean? There are waves caused by tides, but they're "tidal bores", and they're not cataclysmic.
- It can refer to the daily tide cycle, but that's obviously not what people mean when they say "a tidal wave hit".
- It's been obvious for centuries that these waves come from quakes. So why "tidal"?
- Etymology-man: Remember that until 2004, there weren't any clear photos or videos of tsunamis. Some modern writers even described them rearing up and breaking like surfing waves.
- Of course, in 2004 and 2011, it was made clear to everyone that a tsunami is more like a rapid, turbulent, inrushing tide - exactly what historical accounts describe.
- [Water begins to rush in. Etymology-man keeps his pedantic pose.]
- Etymology-man: Maybe those writing about Lisbon in 1755 used "tidal wave" not out of scientific confusion, but because it described the wave's form — a description lost in our rush to expunge "tidal wave" from English.
- [The water is now waist-deep. Etymology-man continues to drone on, but the others start to panic.]
- Etymology-man: "Tsunami" is now the standard, and I'm not trying to change that. But let's be a tad less giddy about correcting "tidal wave" - especially when "tsunami" just means "harbor wave", which is hardly...
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