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Monday, April 30, 2007

Aquaman Cover to Cover, Part 1: Aquaman #42 by Nick Cardy - 1968

sgSorry for the delay!

Ok, so last friday, while I was mooning over the really nice cover Nick Cardy drew for that issue of Aquaman, I begged DC to put together an Aquaman edition of their super-cool Cover to Cover hardback book series. Aquaman has been the recipient of some astounding covers over the years, moreso than a lot of bigger-selling characters than he.

Anyway, my pal and F.O.A.M. member Craig Wichman had this suggestion:"
A talented artiste like you could roll yer own." Illegal-substance references aside, I thought that was such a good idea (and I love it when Dixon does it over at Crimson Lightning) that I decided all this week I'll be presenting seven of my favorite, most striking Aquaman covers that definitely should be part of any Aquaman: Cover to Cover book, imaginary or not.

...so what better cover to start with than this, one of the most famous envelope-busting covers in all of comics? As has been reported many times before, DC was met with much resistence to some of the covers then-head-honcho Carmine Infantino was using. Not having the famous logo on top of the books so they could easily seen and identified was verboten on newsstands. But Carmine pushed some of 'em through, this being my favorite example.

Nick Cardy's design, use of lighting, and the colors are all top-notch--Black Manta looks like he's about to throw Aquaman into Hell itself. Never has a villain looked more certain to defeat the good guy!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Entertainment Weekly Article - 2005

sgNeed more proof that someone at Entertainment Weekly has a soft spot for Aquaman? Here's yet another article on the character from a 2005 issue.

Sure, it's more about current hit shows Smallville and Entourage, but for someone to even think of it and deem it worthy of some valuable column space means they've got Aquaman On The Brain.

To see the other ones we've posted so far, check 'em out
here, here, here, and here! And of course there are my contributions to the genre here and here! Whew!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

CBS Saturday Morning TV Ad - 1968


I had planned to post this beautifully designed, exciting-as-all-get-out double-page spread for CBS' Saturday Morning Cartoon line-up, circa 1968, that appeared in lots of comics at the time. But then that impish little Bully posted it on his site first, so I asked him if I could use his and save me the effort of having to scan it in.

Bully generously agreed, so here it is, along with my additional close-up of (to me) the main source of interest, The Superman-Aquaman Hour of Adventure! And what better day to post it?

1968 was a little before my time, but I still remember how great the Sat Morn line-ups where back then--and this group of shows looks just as exciting--Jonny Quest, Moby Dick, The Mighty Mightor, The Herculoids, Shazzan!, plus the DC universe of heroes! It almost made the Nixon administration tolerable.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Aquaman (Vol.1) #38 - 1968

sgI thought, since I covered the most recent issue of Aquaman for last week's Comic Friday, I'd go way back this week, and talk about "'Justice Is Mine', Saieth the Liquidator!" (you can see why they abbreviated it for the cover) by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy.

As usual, this issue of Aquaman is graced by a beautiful, poster-like, eye-catching cover by Nick Cardy. I know it would probably only sell about five copies, but hey, DC--can you put together an Aquaman: Cover to Cover hardcover book? Please, pretty please?

Aquaman mysteriously faints dead away at the same time a mysterious being known as (you guessed it) The Liquidator arrives in Atlantis. The Big Purple L is hot on the trail of someone he calls "the guilty one", and he thinks that someone is...Aquaman!

At the same time, something has come over our hero and turned him into, in Mera's words "something evil, strange." While Mera tries to have the leaders of Atlantis intervene, Aquaman and the Liquidator have it out. Aqualad gets involved, and doesn't really help much.

It turns out that both Aquaman and the Liquidator were victims of an even greater menace, an Atlantean turncoat named Ragnar. And even though Aquaman wins out eventually, he shows mercy to the Liquidator when it's revealed who the real baddie was.

While the design of the Liquidator--big, hulking, with little purple onion rings hanging off his head--is not Nick Cardy's best, the storytelling is of course top-notch. There are some marvelous facial gestures, and the frequent use of open panels and unusual angles reinforce the underwater setting of the story.

Note: According to the Statement of Ownership, Aquaman was selling, on average, 233,00 copies of the 404,000 printed each month, a little better than half the print run. It's funny to think--and of course I'm like the one millionth comic fan to point this out--that Aquaman selling 233,000 made it a medium seller, when of course today, numbers like that would make Aquaman a monster smash. We'd have All-Star Aquaman, Surf & Turf (an Aquaman team-up book), Aquaman: The Animated Series, the whole deal.

Bonus! This comic also features one of those fun half-page ads that DC did a lot in the 60s and 70s, featuring the best Flash cover, ever: (sorry, Dixon)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Aquaman Nintendo Game - 2003

sgI'll admit this right up front: I've never played this game, not once.

First--it features BLL Aquaman. Second--I don't have any sort of game system. Two strikes, you're out! (I don't follow sports, obviously)

While I had an Atari, like all kids of my generation, I luckily never "graduated" onto the more high-end game systems, unlike a lot of my generation. I'm not sure why I didn't--I loved my Atari and playing arcade games. But in the end I'm glad I didn't, because I think I probably would've become obsessive about it, playing for hours and hours on end, my skin never seeing any light except the dull glow of the TV screen.

Being a comic book fan was bad enough for my social life; throw video games into the mix and I probably would've ended up living on Tatooine with a frozen Han Solo as a wall ornament.

So, I have the game, but never played it. If anyone out there has, how is it?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Slideshow Strip - 1968


I had no idea what this thing was when I saw it on ebay. All I knew was, it was Aquaman, it was old, and it was only 99 cents.

I've yet to uncover any further info on this thing, all I can assume is that it was a sort of proto-Viewmaster, where you moved a series of transparent slides through a viewer and it told a story.

And what a story! Giant psychadelic octopus attacks sub, Aquaman comes to the rescue, Aquaman sees the octopus' very disturbing mouth orifice, Aquaman (with help of clam) defeats octopus. Done and done.

For the brave ones among you, check it out a lot bigger.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Pepsi Placemat - 1978


I thought why not follow up one placemat with another?

This was, I believe, part of a whole line of DC Comics placemats given out at Pizza Hut that feature a pin-up on the back (front?) and an origin story on the front (back?).

The pin-up is by Dick Giorando (too lazy to scan it in, so just trust me), and this origin sequence looks to be by Kurt Schaffenberger, who of course had a nice, clean, solid style, perfect for mass merchandising. In particular, there's something about this panel that really grabs me:

...it's so solidly layed out, so wonderfully composed. The colors are also quite nice. Methinks I didn't appreciate the late Mr. Schaffenberger's work enough when he was around.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Super Friends Placemat - 1976


Can you imagine having this beauty staring up at you from under your bowl of Count Chockula (or FrankenBerry, if you will) first thing in the morning? You'd just know it was going to be a good day, having the Super Friends smiling up at you like that.

It's not until I recently starting adding Super Friends stuff to my Aquaman collection that I began to fully understand how much of a merchandising juggernaut the show was in the seventies. I've come across literally hundreds of products either specifically created around the show or some pre-exisiting item retrofitted as to be a piece of SF merchandise.

And of course, all us Aquaman fans everywhere have that show's enormous success to thank for Aquaman's enduring, seemingly-indestructible presence in pop culture, even though that popularity has never been reflected in the arena of his original creation, comic books.

When I won this on ebay, it was for a set of four, so someday I can have a really fun, uber-nerd dinner party...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

PSA Sticker - 1992

sgThis was one of four stickers with an environmental message DC put out in 1992, with art by then-Aquaman artist Ken Hooper. What better character to talk about the ecology than the King of the Seven Seas? And I thought what better time to post one than today, Earth Day?

I got these in a swell trade with F.O.A.M. member Chris Franklin. I had some Batman Family pinbacks and I thought Chris might like them. He asked if I wanted the stickers for trade, and I of course said yes! Drinks all around.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Vs. Card - Ocean Master

sgAnother Vs. card, this time on Aquaman's most personal foe (I would argue Black Manta holds the title of #1 Aquaman villain), the Ocean Master!

It's funny to think about, but Aquaman--as a character--was certainly allowed to develop much more than most of other DC heroes at the time. Not only did he marry, have a child, but with Orm here he was given a brother, and one who was a super-villain, too boot!

I've always felt this brother vs. brother dynamic has never been fully exploited by Aquaman's writers. Neal Pozner did it best I think in the 1986 mini-series--you really got the sense of bitter sibling rivalry that causes Orm to want to not only kill Aquaman, but take everything--his family, his throne--away from him.

Sadly, for the longest time he had never been transformed into any action figure, until the just-released Mini-Mates two-pack which we'll see here soon!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #51 - 2007

sgI've decided to cover the newest issue of Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis for each week's Comic Friday, that way I can feel like I'm keeping people who might not be reading the book (and that's most of Humanity) up to date.

This is the second issue by the new creative team of Tad Williams, Shawn McManus, and Walden Wong, this time with a niiiice cover by master Michael Wm. Kaluta. It picks up shortly after last issue, so we have the JLA (or at least some of them) attending the "funeral" of the Dweller, aka the original Aquaman.

Any superhero's funeral needs to be put in quotes since it's so rarely final. That's even more the case this time, since Aquaman's death last issue was done so off-handedly, so perfunctorily, that I didn't believe for a second it was The End. That feeling is reinforced with this issue, where members of the JLA themselves doubt it really means Aquaman is gone forever. Maybe Tad Williams is trying a classic mis-direct, and Arthur really is dead. I don't know--this approach seems lose/lose to me--if he's isn't dead, then all this talk about it really undercuts the drama. If he is, then DC has allowed a writer to unceremoniously bump off one of their most durable characters for a cheap, instantly-forgettable plot twist (that can't be it, since of course DC would never do that).

Anyway, the new Aquaman, Tempest, Cal Durham, new comic relief Topo, and holdover from the previous Aquaman incarnation, Lorena (aka the new Aquagirl) and a few others head out to find one of these mysterious "hatches" that work like wormholes under the sea. When they do, they run afoul of a whole gang of bad fish/human hybrid bad guys, and a fairly bloody battle ensues. They finally reach their destination--the underwater city of Sub Diego--and they discover its been taken over by...Black Manta!

I don't want to be too negative when I talk about a comic, since I try to keep the Shrine a happy place, and I just don't feel right about slamming creative people who are obviously trying to do good work. It's just a comic book, for Neptune's sake. And I have to keep in mind that we are only two issues into Williams' run.

But so far, I feel that the new Aquaman is becoming a co-star in his own book. At this point, we've got him, Mera, Tempest, Cal, Topo, Lorena, an evil duplicate Aquaman, and the bad guy who created the evil duplicate. The book is so crowded that Aquaman really isn't making much of an impression.

If anything, it's Lorena/Aquagirl that resonates the most. Back when she was introduced in the earlier incarnation of this book, I thought she was a great character, a great counterpoint to the self-serious Aquaman. It seemed like they were grooming her to become his new sidekick and I thought to myself, if they did want a new Aquaman, DC could do worse than replace him with Lorena. I'm glad Williams has brought her back, and I only hope that over time he pares away the rest of the ever-growing AquaFamily and gives Lorena more to do.

The art by Shawn McManus is still very nice, but I'm still not totally sold his cartoony style fits well with all the blood and guts this new Aquaman's world consists of. The little dots-for-eyes characters are cute and all, I just don't know whether they work in this context.

Of course, I'm still going to buy Aquaman--it's Aquaman. I have nothing but high hopes for the title and that Williams and McManus are given the chance to really do something with the book.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Greatest Aquaman Collection in the World

There's no words...

[Redacted] has every big, rare, and/or valuable piece of Aquaman merchandise that I can only dream about--carded Aqualad, Kresge card Aquaman,
the Ben Cooper Halloween costume, Aquaman Vs. The Great White Shark, the Action Boy/Aqualad suit MIB, even Ideal's Mera Super Queens doll--in the box! What's not shown in these pictures are the two armed guards [Redacted] has on 24/7 surrounding the case.

[Redacted] was very generous to share these photos with me, and further for allowing them to be shown here. I probably have about 10x the amount of stuff [Redacted] has; but then, a lot of my stuff has the hideous pirate Aquaman on it, so quantity isn't always what it's cracked up to be.

Maybe someday, when I've gone from magazine assignments to illustrating movie posters and Bob Dylan CDs, I'll be able to afford all these wonderful treasures for myself.

Until then,
[Redacted], be proud! This is the greatest Aquaman collection on earth!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Super Friends Goggles - 1977

sgOne of the most unusual Aquaman items I've ever come across, yet it makes total sense--Aquaman swim goggles!

The goggles are your standard item, so obviously some manufacturer (in this case, Sportsotron(!), Inc., of Bohemia(!!), NY) had a bunch of them lying around and saw an opportunity to move a few by slapping a Super Friends tag on them.

I've mentioned before the ignominy of Aquaman getting removed from certain versions of the Super Friends logo, I guess if either the manufacturer didn't have enough space or they wanted to print one less color. But to not be included on your very own item? Sheesh.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Variety Ad - 2006


I'm just now catching up on the third season of Entourage, where as any Aquaman fan knows, star Vincent Chase (Adrien Grenier) is starring in the big-budget, James Cameron-directing Aquaman feature film.

Before I had seen them, I had heard comments about how Entourage, via this storyline, took a couple of shots at Aquaman the character, so I watched these DVDs a little skeptically. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that the show really doesn't dump on the character at all; in fact, the Aquaman-ish-ness of the plot is so minimal Vicent Chase could be playing any superhero not yet transferred to the big screen. Hey, if only James Cameron wanted to make an Aquaman film!

Anyway, one of the fun, surrealistic touches in all this was the real-life, two-page spread that the show's producers bought in Variety, trumpeting "Aquaman"'s record-breaking three day gross. I can only imagine that if you don't watch Entourage, or know anything about it, this ad would lead you think there's actually an Aquaman film playing right now.

Some intrepid seller figured that maybe an Aquaman fan might want the ad, so they put it up for sale on ebay--and they were right.


All this faux-Aquaman-movie talk led me to revisit my ideas for what my casting choices would be for an Aquaman movie. And since no one demanded it, here's my dream Aquaman cast:


Aquaman/Arthur Curry: Liam Neeson. He's adept at playing heroes and villains, is very intelligent, and has a touch of regal bearing that I think would fit our hero perfectly. Yeah, he may not have the superhero-esque build for it, but he believably fought toe-to-toe with Christian Bale's Batman, so I figure he's got the chops.

Mera: Cate Blanchett. She has very similar qualities to Neeson--fierce intelligence and sophistication. Plus, she's astoundingly beautiful--the perfect queen to Neeson's king.

Black Manta: Jeffrey Wright. I've found that a lot of comic book movie villain parts are underwritten--they're either crazy psychos or scenery-chewing meglomanaics. I'd love to see Aquaman's arch-nemesis, Black Manta, brought to life partly because he's pretty much just a sociopathic thief--he wants what he wants, and he'll destroy the seas to get it. Wright manages to make every character he plays--big or small--seem to have so much more going on than the screenplay indicates. And like Neeson, he's played good guys and bad guys effectively.

Ocean Master/Orm: Kenneth Branagh. Another great actor, and someone who I picture as being related to Neeson's Aquaman. He's excelled at playing petulant attention-hogs, and who needily cries out for more attention than Aquaman's half-brother, Ocean Master?

Obviously, "my" Aquaman film would skew much older than typical Hollywood comic book adaptations, which tend to cast people barely in their mid-twenties as these iconic, experienced characters. I'd love to see an Aquaman film populated with actual adults; people who you'd believe have long histories with each other. I picture a sort of epic, old-style Hollywood film--like Richard Donner's Superman crossed with David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia.

I can dream, can't I?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Italian Sticker Sheet - 1970s?


An unusual assortment of characters adorn this sticker sheet from Italy (it has Italian writing on the back, and the seller I bought it from hailed from there--other than that, there's no other biographical info anywhere on this thing).

I have to wonder, why Batgirl over Wonder Woman, or even Supergirl? Why no Superman logo? And why Lex Luthor, for Rao's sake?

These all look like lifts from DC comic panels--that's a Curt Swan Superman and Luthor, no doubt, and that Batman pose looks really familiar, but I just can't quite place it (anyone have an idea?). The Aquaman is a loose trace of a Dick Giordano panel from the first page of Adventure Comics #475.

I love stickers!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Mego Week, Part 7: Aquaman and the Great White Shark - 1977

sgAs if Brian wasn't making me jealous enough with his awesome Mego Aquaman collection, here's his gen-u-ine Aquaman and shark from the 1977 Aquaman Vs. The Great White Shark playset.

This is one of the hardest Aquaman pieces to find (though not impossible, as we'll see next week*). I myself have never even seen one in person. If I ever did, I guarantee I'd buy it, price notwithstanding.

Aquaman gets ragged on a lot, but it's instructive to see that, of all the characters Mego was making dolls of, Aquaman was one of the very few that got his own separate playset. Heck, Shazam! didn't, and he had his own TV show!

Obviously, Mego saw a way to capitalize on the massive success of the Jaws movie, and were able to hobble together a whole new product once they got ahold of some toy plastic sharks. It says something about shark's PR at that point that it's called Aquman Vs. The Great White Shark, when of course the sharks are Aquaman's friends. Another reason to be afraid of Aquaman if you're a bad guy.

And so we end Mego Week, made possible by the generous contributions of F.O.A.M. guy Brian Heiler. Thanks Brian! Maybe someday I'll have all these for myself (right after I buy my solid gold house and my rocket-powered car). If you wanna see more on this cool toy, check out the MegoMuseum page devoted to it

*mysterious laugh

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Mego Week, Part 6: Comic Action Heroes - 1976

sgAnother nice piece from Brian's collection, a MOC Aquaman from Mego's 1976 Comic Action Heroes line.

As you can see, Mego's package design for this line was minimalist, to say the least. The logo is really fun, but couldn't they have put something else on the card?

I previously posted my loose figure, but I still have yet to find a MOC card one for myself. Heck, I don't even have the big hunk of cheddar each CAH figure came with. I guess I could make one myself, but then I'd have to keep replacing it when the cheese goes bad...


Brian also sent along this photo of Arthur pulling down Monitor Duty at Superman's Fortress of Solitude playset (can't one of the Superman robots handle that?).

As you can see, the Fortress' monitors can keep back of other heroes asking for help (from multiple angles!), send messages, or even channel old Adventure Comics covers.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Mego Week, Part 5: Window Box - 1974

sgHere's my beloved window-box style Aquaman, another item picked up at Toyrareum. Like the other ones I bought, it wasn't cheap; like the other ones I bought, it was worth it.

When examining
the Aquaman page at the Mego Museum, I see that there are numerous iterations of this box featuring different pictures of the other Mego figures. The one pictured here is currently in storage, and I never noticed which one I've got--now I've gotta go and find out.

Off to Public Storage!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mego Week, Part 4: Pocket Heroes - 1979

sgAnother beauty from the collection of Brian Heiler, this is part of Mego's Pocket Heroes line.

Like Tuesday's Bend n' Flex figure, I only have this one loose, having not been able to find a MOC one for anything less than several hundred dollars. I really do want one--the clear simplicity of this card's design appeals to me, and I had almost all of these growing up (I never could figure out what to do with Jor-El, though).

I remember having the General Zod figure (that's him behind Luthor) and wondering why the heck he didn't look like the General Zod I saw in the movie. Ah, it's hard explaining the concept of merchandising vs. movie rights to an eight-year-old.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mego Week, Part 3: "Frankencard" - 1979

sgOne of my favorite pieces, a Mint-on-Card Mego action figure, aka "Frankencard" (we'll get to why in a moment). I purchased this at the late, lamented Toyrareum store in Ocean City, NJ, and I was so happy to find it.

This thing takes me back to being a kid all over again. The super bright packaging, full of classic comic art (I love the mixture of styles--those are Neal Adams' Superman and Batman, what looks like a Dick Giordano Supergirl, an Irv Novick Robin, and either a CC Beck or a Kurt Schaffenberger Shazam! on the front) , plus there are pics of other figures in the line on the back. Action-figure packaging at its finest!

It's known as "Frankencard", because he is clearly wearing Batman's gloves, and...why is there no Aquaman logo above him, you ask? That's because the card says "Superman" instead, in the globally-recognizable logo. Mego had lots of extra Aquamans lying around, so they slapped a yellow sticker over it, and hoped no one would notice. "Ah, these things are just for kids...no way are they ever going to become collectibles, kept on some geek's bookshelf a quarter of a century from now or anything. Now, let's get going on those Logun's Run toys...that's gonna be huge!"

For more info, check out the Aquaman page at the Mego Museum!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Mego Week, Part 2: Bend 'n Flex Figure - 1975

sgThe charmingly goofy Bend 'n Flex line from Mego featured Aquaman, of course. So far I've only been able to find a loose one for less than an astronomical price, but Brian has had more luck.

The paint job on my Aquaman's nose has chipped off, revealing the green base underneath. I find it somewhat disturbing.

To see more of the Bend 'n Flexers, check out their page at
the Mego Museum!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Mego Week, Part 1: Solid Front Box - 1972

sgThe Mego/Aquaman connection all started here, with the "solid-front"-style boxed Aquaman action figure, released in 1972. Aquaman was part of the initial line of four figures, along with Superman, Batman, and Robin (although this box comes from 1973, when Spider-Man, Captain America, and Tarzan had been added to the mix).

The solid-front boxes are some of the hardest to find, and consequently most expensive, Mego items out there. I am not yet fortunate enough to have one, so this beauty comes from the collection of F.O.A.M. member extraordinaire Brian Heiler. As you can see, Brian keeps his SF Aquaman in a bullet-proof chamber, which also works great for recreating Spock's death scene from Star Trek II (Mego's Aquaman for some reason has pointed ears, which would make it work even better).

As goofy as these Megos looks to modern audiences, anyone that grew up around this time are absolutely charmed by them, a feeling that hasn't dissipated over time.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Mego Week Preview: Mego Museum Trading Card - 2006

sgWe're starting another theme week tomorrow, highlighting all the various Aquaman items from the beloved Mego Toys company. But I thought I'd "preview" it with this, the super-cool Aquaman trading card that was part of a series produced to promote the Mego Museum.

As you can see, the cards are simply beautiful, with their wonderful use of color and design (plus fun Mego trivia on the back)! They were never for sale, so you can only get them by trading or by the kindness of some of the Museum's most ardent fans (I have been the beneficiary of that kindness many times over, which is how I have an almost complete set by now).

Anyway, the Mego items that will follow all this week come from two sources--my own collection, plus the more impressive collection of F.O.A.M. member Brian Heiler. Brian collects Megos with the ferocity Conan the Barbarian uses to find wine, women, and song; and he generously sent me some photos of his awesome Mego Aquaman collection. I was/am so jealous that I originally was going to call it "I Hate Brian Week", but that seemed sorta negative, and I want the Shrine to be a happy place.

Since over time the Shrine has grown from just being my collection to a history of Aquaman merch in general anyway, I'm happy to show off some of Brian's cool stuff, even if it does inspire murderous jealousy in me (I'm not proud of that).

So join us tomorrow to see some really fun stuff...by Mego!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Black and White Transfer - 1996

sgThis is another of the Aquaman transfers from a 1996 book. Aquaman only got a couple of pages out of over two-hundred; oh well.

Even with Aquaman in his BLL, I do like pieces like this one where he's depicted working alongside the powerful creatures of the deep. When you think about it, someone with the ability to command a whale is no one to mess with.

Plus, it's such a cute whale. Look how happy he looks to be with Aquaman!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Aquaman (Vol.3) #1 - 1989

sgI thought for this week's Comic Friday I'd talk about the third(!) Aquaman #1, from June 1989, the beginning of a five-part mini-series by Keith Giffen, Robert Loren Fleming, Curt Swan, and Al Vey.

I'm admitting right off the bat, I obviously don't know the ins and outs of DC's decision(s) not to directly follow up the excellent--and high-selling--1986 mini-series by Neal Pozner and Craig Hamilton. There was a 1988 one-shot special, written by our pal Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn, which was specifically designed. among other things, to return Aquaman to his old costume. But even that special still continued on some of the themes of the series that proceeded it. This Aquaman is--wait for it--an entirely different kettle of fish.

I'm going to make some assumptions here about this series (if someone reading this knows better, please let me know)--first, look at the cover by Dave DeVries: very unusual, very distinctive. I remember getting this comic off the stands, seeing that cover and thinking, hey, this is a very cool, very different look for Aquaman. Then I opened the book and saw...pencils by Curt Swan?

It seems to me that at some point down the line, DC had plans to continue Aquaman--as a character--down the path that had been started by Pozner and Hamilton in 1986, with a new storyline, new look, a new raison d'etre. Like they were doing for Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, (and even, to a lesser extent, Green Arrow, Hawkman, The Atom, etc.) at the time, Aquaman would be modernized and given a fresh coat of paint.

But it feels like, somewhere along the line, something happened to change all that, so Aquaman got handed off to Giffen, Fleming, and Swan, who produced--for all its good points (and there are some)--a very usual DC superhero story, laced with none of the new dramatic underpinnings that had come before.

Aquaman finds his beloved Atlantis taken over by an alien race and his people enslaved. Aquaman sorta acts like he did pre-1986, and, with all due respect to Mr. Swan, the look of the book is drab in the extreme. Atlantis is so simplistically rendered, it looks like an action figure playset. The alien creatures who take over Atlantis look like monsters from a 1950s sci-fi film, and all the men in the book look like each other, save for different hair color. Coming after the breathtaking beauty and grace of Craig Hamilton's work in the 1986 Aquaman, this new series' look just doesn't measure up.
Plus, you can't even really find any of the trademark sharp wit associated with Giffen and Fleming as storytellers.

The most entertaining part of the issue is the very funny, very entertaining editorial piece on Aquaman written by some DC staffer named Mark Waid. It's a shame that Waid, at the time, was not yet Mark Waid, since I would've loved to see him take a crack at writing the series himself.

I think all the leaps forward as a character Aquaman made in the mid-80s were abruptly halted with this series, and to superhero fans raised on The Dark Knight, Watchmen, Byrne's Superman, and Perez's Wonder Woman, Aquaman--as a book and a character--seemed sadly old hat, something I don't think he has yet to fully recover from.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Boxer Shorts - 2005

sgFinally, what the world needs--Aquaman boxer shorts!

This was one of a whole series of DC-related merchandise, along with t-shirts and hats, that somehow made it beyond the confines of comic book shops into mainstream stores, like Target. You can't find them anymore, but they're plentiful on ebay, and beautifully designed, all festooned with classic stock art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.

I will spare you a picture of me wearing these.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Super Friends Coloring Book - 1975

sgFrom the prices this commands everytime it surfaces on ebay, I would say this Super Friends coloring book from Whitman is one of the most beloved childhood items of a lot of people. I had no intention of paying as much for it as I did, but I simply got tired of not having it in the collection!

The first thing I notice about this is the fairly unusual cover--you've got Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman to use, and instead you show off Marvin and Wendy?

The story concerns a race of underwater people that Aquaman runs afoul of, and they kidnap him (what is this, Justice?), which of course gets the Super Friends involved. Luckily, its all a big misunderstanding (what is this, a Marvel book?), and the whole thing is settled with just a few punches thrown.

Since the story is water-based, for once Aquaman gets the lions-share of the action! And while I compliment the writers heartily for putting Aquaman front and center, it's kind of a one-step-up, two-steps-back kind of thing. Bad enough that Aquaman gets kidnapped, but:

...he gets rescued by a swordfish. A swordfish. C'mon, Aquaman can withstand the deepest ocean pressure, and a friggin' swordfish gets him out a jam? I think it's stuff like this that convinced a whole generation that Aquaman was pretty lame.

...you said it, Dick.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Thank You Card - 2005

sgThis was part of a boxed set of Super Friends cards released by the cool folks at Chronicle Books.

Even though the box features the classic Toth-drawn group shot, only Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, and the Wonder Twins appear on the cards. Huh?

As you could might've guessed, this was the card I used when I wrote a thank you note to Aquaman himself.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Official Adventures of Aquaman LP - 1967


This is a very odd album of all-new, full-cast recordings of the origin stories of Aquaman, Flash, and Green Lantern. It's funny to think about how Aquaman is the selling point here; Flash and GL are playing back-up. My, how times have changed.

I call this album odd because of its contents. The Aquaman origin is pretty much the one we all know from the comics, but the Flash one is a hybrid of the origins stories of both Jay Garrick and Barry Allen. And the Green Lantern one is flat-out the Alan Scott GL origin story--so why in the name of Qward is Hal Jordan pictured on the sleeve? And shooting a yellow beam from his ring, no less!

My pal and F.O.A.M. member Craig Wichman--who not only knows all things Old Time Radio but actually participates in new audio drama recordings for the web--tells me these were "full cast" shows featuring actors who had extensive experience with classic radio. Even with the confused origin stories, this album is still a whole lot of fun to listen to!



Update: I had done a previous post concerning a display box of Super Friends pencil sharpeners that featured Aquaman as one of characters. Having never seen an Aquaman sharpener per se, I wondered if it actually exists.

A few weeks ago, I found this picture accompanying another seller's display box auction, with some of the sharpeners thrown in. As you can see, there were at least two each for Superman, Wonder Woman, and one Captain Marvel. The Supermans are clearly traces of Neal Adams, and the good Captain looks to be by Kurt Schaffenberger.

The search continues for Aquaman...

One final thought: A number of you were kind enough to say something nice about my attempt at an April Fool's Joke yesterday, transforming The Aquaman Shrine into The Sub-Mariner Shrine.

I had originally intended to go all the way, and get rid of all the Aquaman content and replace it with Subby stuff. But I ran out of time, as well as barely being able to find enough Namor stuff to fill a page! So I had to go with my very stripped-down version, which I still thought worthy of doing.

One of my favorite blogs, Chris' Invincible Super-Blog, did go all the way with the same idea and the execution was flawless. Maybe next year I'll turn this into The Pirana Shrine (with his two sidekicks, Bara and Cuda!).

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Topps Sticker - 1975

sgThis part of a huge line of Marvel character stickers that Topps produced in 1975. I remember having nearly the whole set; each Marvel hero and villain had some funny phrase, as well (DC never would've done that; they took themselves way more seriously than Marvel did).

Although, when you come to think about it, this phrase isn't funny at all. It's actually a completely reasonable statement; and something you easily could picture Namor saying.