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It’s been a rough 40 years for Aquaman, whose public image has never recovered from Super Friends. Sure, the long-running animated series raised the Atlantean’s profile, but it did so while depicting him as a pretty ineffective hero who had to hope for an aquatic threat and then hitch a ride with Wonder Woman to the nearest body of water. So he could summon a pod of narwhals. Only Zan of the Wonder Twins — “Form of water!” “Form of giant ice handcuffs!” — was lower in the Hall of Justice hierarchy.
And, as if that Entourage story thread and failed 2006 television pilot didn’t add enough insult to injury, now Aquaman has been declared the “most toxic superhero” by McAfee.
In a case of clever timing — Comic-Con International is this week, after all — the software-security company released the results of its first-ever research into which online superhero searches result in the most bad links, including viruses, malware and websites containing malicious software used to steal passwords and personal information.
It turns out, as McAfee’s Robert Siciliano writes, that Aquaman is not only King of the Seas but king of the online superhero threats.
“The research found that searching for the latest ‘Aquaman and free torrent download,’ ‘Aquaman and watch,’ ‘Aquaman and online,’ and ‘Aquaman and free trailer’ yields a 18.6% chance of landing on a website that has tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware,” Siciliano says.
Perhaps almost as strange is that Mr. Fantastic is right behind Aquaman at No. 2, with 18.22 percent.
Siciliano theorizes that because of the resurgence of superhero movies, “hackers are leveraging their popularity to target consumers.” “Broadly speaking, this study confirms that scammers consider popular trends when deciding which victims to target,” he writes. “This makes common sense. If hackers are motivated largely by profit, the biggest profits can be wrung from the largest pools of potential victims.”
Of course, that doesn’t explain why Aquaman and Mr. Fantastic would rank higher on the list of threats than Iron Man (No. 6), Wolverine (No. 11) and Spider-Man (No. 15).