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Friday, March 16, 2007

Aquaman (Vol.1) #54 - 1970

sgIt's Comic Friday again, and it seems only appropriate to talk about an issue written by our pal Steve Skeates--Aquaman #54, "Crime Wave" (not "Am I My Own Executioner?" as stated on the spiffy cover by Nick Cardy) with interior art by Jim Aparo.

Aquaman gets knocked out by a gang of toughs and wakes up in a weird dream world, where he encounters a creepy, hulking, evil-looking version of himself, called Thanatos. Aquaman keeps awakening from his dream state (or does he?), only to get drawn back into unconsciousness to take on Thanatos, who is hell-bent on killing our hero!

Skeates and Aparo maintain a genuine creepy vibe throughout this story--its set entirely at night and there's a definite claustrophoic, film noir-ish feel to the whole thing. Aparo isn't remembered too much for his horror work, but he had a real flair for it with his use of off-putting angles and heavy blacks (he also drew of one of my favorite House of Mystery stories, called "The Demon Within" that to this day I still find unsettling). There's even a nice editorial piece by Steve Skeates, to boot!

I bought this comic as a young kid when I first started discovering ads in them for back issues. I was just a wee lad and the notion of a comic-book store was unknown to me, so getting comics in the mail--via those super-cool Superhero Catalog catalogs, with their pages and pages of fantastic, four-color treasures--was just so exciting. I didn't know anything about the issue of Aquaman I was buying; this just happened to be this one I ordered (it probably was the cheapest). As I mentioned above, I found Thanatos very disturbing, especially as a kid:

Pleasant dreams, everybody!


Anonymous said...

Yes! Thanatos always disturbed me, too! He seemed to be such an unhinged villian.

Dixon said...

And this is certainly a classic Aquaman cover! Who could resist an issue like this?

rob! said...

it IS nice, isnt it? i love the heavy blacks with the bright color highlights.

(curmudgeon) ah, they dont make 'em like that anymore... (/curmudgeon)

Scurvy said...

Man, Thanatos was one of the most original Aquaman villans in my opinion. I was super pissed when they killed him off in the PAD run. What a loss.

rob! said...

i havent read those PAD ones in a long time, but i remember not liking that they brought Thanatos back at all--to me, this story remains much creepier since its so self-contained.

Anonymous said...

Aquaman #54! This issue has a very special place in my heart as I purchased it at my very first Comic Con. Remember those great Creation Conventions over Thanksgiving weekend in New York? I somehow talked my dad into taking me to my first one in November 1977. I had just turned 11.

I have two very distinct memories associated with that show - my dad and I sitting in on a slideshow presentation for Superman: The Movie, over a year prior to its release. (I remember the crowd shouting in unison, "Superman doesn't have an "S" on his belt" when a huge image of Christopher Reeve wearing a prototype of the Super-suit was shown. Of course, we were assured by the panel administrators, that error had already been fixed.)

The other memory is buying this issue of Aquaman, my first real back issue. I loved it' And I really disliked that Peter David turned Thanatos into just another evil twin. I always thought Thanatos worked better as just a figment of Aquaman's tortured psyche.

Vincent P. Bartilucci