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Friday, October 13, 2017

So Long, and Thanks For All The Fish Jokes

When I started The Aquaman Shrine, on a random, quiet night in October 2006--11 years ago today--I thought of it as a fun way to display my then-tiny collection of Aqua-merch, a public demonstration of my adoration for DC Comics' King of the Seven Seas. I had enough stuff thatI thought I could run it for a year, at best. Little did I know, of course, that in short order the Shrine would become the main creative outlet of my life, a daily, swirling conversation between me and the hundreds, thousands, of Aquaman fans who were out there.

It didn't take long before the blog morphed from an online gallery of merch to an all-encompassing, rolling history of the character, in all forms and all media, and a meeting place for the aforementioned like-minded fans. F.O.A.M. membership certificates were issued, interviews were conducted, news was (occasionally) broken. The Shrine, being a big fish in a small pond, opened a number of doors for me, and thanks to it I ended up befriending some of the people who had professional associations with the character, whether as a writer, artist, or, sometimes, as Aquaman himself!

The whole idea that the Sea King was an unloved joke as a character served as a rallying cry for me and all of the other Aqua-Fans, and we kept flying that orange and green flag while the character was in limbo in official DC continuity.

Then, in 2011, something remarkable happened. Fan favorite Geoff Johns took the reigns of a new Aquaman book, part of DC's New 52 initiative. Backed with stellar artwork by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Rod Reis, this new Aquaman was undeniably cool, and all of a sudden the Sea King became one of the pillars of the revamped DCU. Aquaman became one of the company's best-selling titles, leading, briefly, to him headlining two monthly titles! Unheard of!

And while I continued along, trying to keep pace with the idea that Aquaman was suddenly everywhere (comics, cartoons, toys, TV, merchandise), my enthusiasm started to wane. I helped co-found The Fire and Water Podcast, and a few years later The Fire and Water Podcast Network, initially devoted to just talking about Aquaman but soon expanding outwards, in all directions. I got tired of writing about Aquaman, especially when it became clear that the Shrine was no longer the only game in town: lots of people liked Aquaman now, so my little effort didn't stand out the way it used to.

Mulling what to do as the Shrine approached its tenth anniversary, I put the blog on indefinite hiatus when world events made the whole thing seem like a waste of time. I had considered coming back, eventually, but now that Aquaman is a bona-fide movie star, it dawned on me that the best, most appropriate thing to do was to give this old thing one last proper send off. So that's what I'm doing here.

The Shrine's Twitter feed, expertly managed by my longtime co-conspirator Joe Slab, continues to be a hub for Aqua-fandom. I handed it over to Joe many years ago and he transformed it into what it is today. So while it feels weird to put a period on the end of this particular sentence, the time has come. The Aquaman Shrine has given me the chance to do a great many fun things and meet some amazing people, some of whom I call my friends. It's enriched my life in ways I never could have imagined when I absent-mindedly started taking pictures of my collection, but I guess that's one of the great things about life.

Thanks to all the thousands of people who ever stopped by here, drawn by their love of the King of the Seven Seas. It's been an amazing experience and I thank all of you who liked what I was doing enough to comment, contribute, or simply swim along.

Goodbye, Aquaman Shrine, and thanks for everything.

--Rob Kelly, October 2017

Wednesday, November 09, 2016


The Aquaman Shrine is going on extended hiatus. Thank you all for following along and until we meet again, please be kind to one another. It's all we've got.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Aquaman #44 Original Art by Jim Aparo

Aquaman #44 ends with an unusual "tag" for the next issue, which ran on a half-page along with an ad at the end of the issue. Here's the master Jim Aparo's original art for that piece--how could any kid not pick up the next issue?!?

Monday, November 07, 2016

Aquaman Album #4

You all know I love seeing international editions of Aquaman comics, but this cover is truly testing that theory. This is from publisher K.G. Murray, which handled reprints of DC books for the Australian market.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Aquaman (Vol.9) #10

"Future Ride" by Dan Abnett, Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessy, and Gabe Eltaeb.

In her meetings with The Oracle of the Widowhood, Mera is presented with nightmarish visions of Atlantis' utter destruction. The Widows reveal that they oppose Mera's marriage to Aquaman not because of her Xebel roots, but because of these visions. They think Mera will take over after the king has died, and her reign will lead to the end of the world.

Mera is, of course, skeptical, and heads back to Amnesty Bay for some quiet contemplation. After reuniting with Salty (Aquaman Shrine FTW), Mera finds a note left by Lt. Stubbs, who saved Mera's life when Spindrift Station was attacked. They meet at a nearby restaurant, only to fall victim to an attack from a member of N.E.M.O.! Normally, this would not present much of a threat to Mera, but the assassin's heavy weaponry and disregard for innocent bystanders gives him just enough of an edge to get the drop on her. 

While being crushed by a wave of hard water, the assassin drops some sort of grenade, and Mera has to do everything she can to contain the blast. She does, but in the confusion her adversary gets away. Mera decides she has to find Aquaman, and it's up to Stubbs to tell her the bad news: that in his fight with The Shaggy Man, Arthur is in critical condition. To be continued!

The previous iteration of the solo Aquaman series did something similar, giving Mera a solo spotlight during the first year of the book. I thought that was a great idea, and fairly well executed. I'm happy to say that it works again here, with writer Dan Abnett putting the Queen of the Sea through her paces in an exciting, involving story.

He is immeasurably aided by the work of Brad Walker, who I have been gushing over since Aquaman #1. His idiosyncratic style meshes well with the stories Abnett is telling, and he does some of his finest work here, adding wonderful little bits of character-based details, like Mera squeezing her hair dry when she comes out of the water (see above). Walker is exceptional at facial details, and even though he's only drawn a small handful of issues, I feel as though he has already staked a claim for giving us a distinct Aquaman and Mera. Considering how many artists have drawn these characters (hundreds, at this point), that's no easy feat.

Aquaman #10 was one of my favorite issues of the series so far, with both Abnett and Walker doing top-flight work. And speaking of top flight, you all know I have been a big fan of Joshua Middleton's variant covers, always taking pains to post them as part of the bi-weekly issue reviews. But he really outdid himself this time:

DC, please make this a poster. Or, at the very least, the cover to some sort of Mera-centric TPB collection.

Aquaman #10 is on sale now!

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

DC Comics Ad Slicks

Eagle-eyed F.O.A.M.er Ilke Hincer pointed me to an eBay auction featuring this handbook of store signage that DC provided comic book specialty shops. Using different pieces of stock art, you could add your store's info to the various-sized ad slicks--in an earlier era, companies like DC, Marvel, Harvey, and Archie would provide newsstand vendors with spinner racks and other related signage.

Aquaman is almost entirely absent, except for the re-drawn Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (PBHN) JLA group shot. Someone at DC has added Lobo, Mon-El(!), and given the Sea King some more hair. Um...okay.

Thanks Ilke!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Arthur

F.O.A.M.er Tyrone Biljan found this pillow, called "The Arthur" for sale at a Toronto designer furniture store, retailing for the kingly amount of $175! I have to say, I really dig it, it reminds me of the bold, thick-lined graphics seen during the opening credits to the first incarnation of Super Friends.

Any Aqua-Fan is bound to sleep well with this beauty, thanks Tyrone!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Super Powers #1 Alternate Cover

Art Baltazar and Franco's Super Powers #1, debuting in November, had a sneak preview on Comics Alliance last week, featuring this alternate cover! The original cover has just the big three, so as you might guess I like this one a lot better. Aquaman by Art Baltazar and Franco, aw yeah!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

My First Wonder Woman Book

Downtown Bookworks sent me a copy of another one of their volumes, My First Wonder Woman Book, which is a "Touch and Feel" board book. Inside, you can check out the Amazing Amazon's sparkly blue cape, feel her Magic Lasso, check out her reflective bracelets, and lift a flap to see WW in her secret identity:

Wonder Woman's JLA pals do make an appearance, thanks to this classic group shot by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (PBHN), which I never tire of looking at:

You can pick the book up now, on Amazon or via any fine seller of books. Thanks again to Downtown Bookworks for making these wonderful little tomes!

Postscript: I gave my copy of the book to a co-worker, thinking his three-year old daughter would enjoy it. Before I even made it home, he informed me she read it five times in a row. Can't ask for a better review of My First Wonder Woman Book!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

James Wan Promises A Swashbuckling Aquaman

Director James Wan gave a short interview with Entertainment Tonight last week, talking about the kind of movie he plans his 2018 Aquaman to be. The main quote everyone is taking away from it is that he wants the film to be "a classic sort of swashbuckling action adventure", which is certainly music to my ears.

While what we've seen of Jason Momoa's Aquaman in the Justice League sizzle reel seems to be more in line with the gritty, dour mood seen in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, that doesn't mean Wan and his screenwriters put the Sea King through a different sort of story, as it seems Patty Jenkins is doing with next year's Wonder Woman. I sure hope that's the case, I would love nothing more than an Aquaman film to be rollicking good time, the kind of movie (like what see you above) that you can watch over and over again, and it never gets old.

Dear Mr. Wan: If you need an Aquaman expert to come visit the set to make sure you are making the kind of film that Aqua-Fans will love, I am available.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Aquaman (Vol.9) #9

"A League of His Own" by Dan Abnett, Scot Eaton, Wayne Faucher, and Gabe Eltaeb.

The Shaggy Man has landed ashore and begins his smashy-smashy bit in Amnesty Bay. The Atlantean army wants to pursue, but the Sea King orders them to stand down, explaining that if Atlantean warships start landing on U.S. soil, it will trigger another international incident, right at a time when Aquaman is trying to calm things down.

Aquaman takes on the Shaggy Man one-on-one, resulting in a lot of bruises to his face, but not much progress. Murk gets involved, demanding to know why Aquaman won't just call in the Justice League for help. It gets heated enough to the point where Murk alleges that its pride that is causing his king to act the way he is, which Aquaman denies. He then tries to his final gambit--he gets up close to the beast, jamming his JLA ID badge in its thick fur. He then issues a command to the Watchtower, and in an instant the Shaggy Man is transported into outer space, where he floats away, helplessly.

The conflict now resolved, Aquaman collapses into unconsciousness. To be continued!

Back in my review of issues #, I was worried that Aquaman was being dragged back into Atlantis, which I was dreading. I am happy to report that was a only a brief stay, and we got a full issue of our hero in his new home, fighting a giant monster. What's not to like?

I absolutely loved the trick Aquaman pull at the end. And even though the Shaggy Man is a robot and not truly alive, it still felt really badass for the Sea King to just beam him into outer space. Hopefully he won't get picked up by a Zeta Beam, because that will cause all kinds of problems on Rann.

With this issue writer Abnett ties Aquaman strongly to his new home, and we have multiple scenes of him interacting with the locals, only some of which are happy to see him. I was very happy about this, as anyone knows who has been reading the Shrine for a while, I loved giving Aquaman a base of operations on land and I hope over time Amnesty Bay becomes something similar to Gotham or Metropolis, the default setting for any story featuring his particular hero.

On the art front, Eaton and Faucher continue to do solid work, they know how to do action (good thing!) and there are a number of great shots of Aquaman as he races from one place to the next. I hope we see stuff like this replicated in the movie!

Aquaman #9 is on sale now!

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Big Book of Girl Power

The fine folks at Downtown Bookworks were kind enough to send the Shrine a preview copy of one of their newest books, The Big Book of Girl Power! Like the other Pre-School books in this series, it features mini-bios of DC characters, heroes and villains alike, complete with bright colorful art that most of recognize as the work of Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (PBHN)! This book features Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Black Canaary, Hawkgirl, Katana and, yes, Mera!

The book goes on sale next Tuesday, October 25, but of course you can pre-order it now! Get it for the li'l superhero fan in your life, and big thanks to Downtown Bookworks for the early glimpse and for making such great little books featuring everyone's favorite heroes.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Happy Birthday Nick Cardy!

Today is the late, great Nick Cardy's birthday! Over on 13thDimension.com, I have selection of 13 Great Nick Cardy Aqua-Covers, so head on over there and check it out!

You can also hear the 2011 interview I did with the legendary artist over on FireandWaterPodcast.com!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Entertainment Weekly - 10/21/16

The newest issue of Entertainment Weekly (Oct. 21) has a Doctor Strange cover plus an article on the 30 Most Power Superheroes. Usually, lists like this where Aquaman and mainstream pop culture meet are a source of frustration. Aquaman would normally A)be left out entirely, or B)mentioned, but mocked.

Luckily times have changed, so we get the Sea King placing at #30 on the list, complete with decent(ish) bio and cool pic. I'm not going to quibble about just where he places on the list, since it's meaningless; I'm just glad he's here!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Aquaman To The Rescue!

F.O.A.M. member Nathan Archer sent in this pic of the band-aid his doctor gave him after receiving his flu shot. Nice job, Doc!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Adventure Comics #451 Original Art by Jim Aparo

I never tire of looking at original Jim Aparo art (currently for sale), especially when it's Aquaman original art! 

(h/t: F.O.A.M.er Ilke Hincer)

Friday, October 14, 2016

"Sea King" Halloween Costume

I guess Aquaman really has made it, because apparently he's now so popular that there's money in ripping the concept off! This is totally not an Aquaman costume, it's a "Sea King" Halloween outfit, complete with pointy gold thing (not a trident).

(h/t: F.O.A.M.er Brent Almond)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Aquaman Shrine at 10

As of today, The Aquaman Shrine is ten years old. I know, I can't believe it either!

Never, in my wildest dreams, that when I absent-mindedly started taking cruddy pictures of the various orange-and-green bric-a-brac I had been accumulating I would still be doing it a decade later, and that it would grow to be one of the major decision of my life.

I'm not going to go into a long ramble about everything, and obviously I don't devote the same amount of energy to the Shrine like I used to. That's partly because A)I've been doing it for a decade, and B)Aquaman just isn't the put-upon joke he was when I started. For Neptune's Sake, he's a movie star now! That turn of events would have seemed even more unlikely that same ten years ago.

For those of you who still stop by, my sincerest thanks. I've made a lot of friends thanks to the Shrine, and my life is the better for it. Semper Aqua!

Post Script: By the way, it sure was nice of Warner Bros. to release the first official glimpse of Amber Heard as Mera. What a great anniversary present!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Justice League Spectacular Header Card

Check out this nifty promotional "header card" DC produced in 1992 for Justice League Spectacular, a double-sized one-shot which featured (from what I remember, clue me in if I'm wrong) some major changes made to the JL franchise. That included the addition of new/old members, like Aquaman, seen at bottom right!

This kind of POP stuff tends not to survive, so seeing it for sale on ebay is a bit of a surprise. Big thanks to F.O.A.M.er Ilke Hincer for pointing it out!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Justice League Sizzle Reel

The Shrine is a bit late on this (apologies), but here's the "sizzle reel" released by Warner Bros. last week promoting 2017's Justice League movie. Despite my feelings on BvS, it's still fun seeing live action versions of Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and the rest all in the same shot. It's certainly not anything I ever would have dreamed of seeing, not in a million nerd lifetimes.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Aquaman (Vol.9) #8

"Unstoppable" by Dan Abnett, Scot Eaton, Wayne Faucher, and Gabe Eltaeb.

We open with Mera at the Tower of Widowhood, an ancient temple run an order of less-than-humorous Atlantean women who plan on conducting test to see if Mera is "good enough" to marry their king. Meanwhile, Aquaman is alerted to the seismic booms taking place outside the city, and he, Murk, and some of the others go to investigate. It doesn't take long before they spot the massive creature lumbering its way forward.

Aquaman tries to communicate with it, which is met with a left cross, sending the Sea King flying. Not only is the creature incredibly strong, but it seems to be able to heal itself instantly. After falling back, Aquaman and Tula discuss strategy, and they bring out the big guns--literally. Atlantean craft fire "plasmit cells", which only stop the monster long enough for its real identity to be discovered--it's the old JLA foe, The Shaggy Man!

As Aquaman tries to stop it, he is told that the monster's target isn't, in fact, Atlantis, but--Amnesty Bay! To be continued!

After an issue of Aquaman whining about running Atlantis, I'm of course happy to have him back out getting involved in super heroics, and bringing in an old(?) JLA foe is a good way to do it! Like the Sea King, I'm not thrilled that he will potentially be separated from Mera for months, as she undergoes her tests, but luckily comic books can compress time so it (hopefully) won't take that long. (By the way, I assume Diana Rigg will be playing the head widow in the upcoming Aquaman movie?). I liked the moment where Aquaman realized that Tula is pretty good at what she does, and she doesn't need to be micromanaged like her assumed. Does this mean we'll eventually get our power couple back to Amnesty Bay and have Tula run Atlantis? I'd be up for that (and I think she would too).

As usual, the book's cover by Brad Walker is outstanding. The inside art by Eaton and Faucher is solid if indistinct, although the action sequences are pretty good. I have mentioned before, both here and on The Fire and Water Podcast, that I wouldn't mind the book going back to a typical monthly schedule if it meant we could get Brad Walker doing every single issue. In the meantime, I do enjoy seeing so much Aquaman, I have to admit. At this rate, we'll get to issue #76 in no time!

Aquaman #8 is on sale now!