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Friday, November 30, 2007

Adventure Comics #478 - Dec. 1980

sgThe final chapter in Aquaman's excellent, last run in Adventure Comics, courtesy J.M. DeMatteis, Dick Giordano, and Steve Mitchell, with a cover by Rich Buckler and Giordano.

As Black Manta prepares to attack Atlantis with his newly-formed army, Aquaman and Cal Durham are trapped in an electrified cage. Aquaman quickly summons a whale to break them out, and Aquaman leaves Cal to chase after Manta. Cal is trying to tell Aquaman something, but he is just too weak to get it out in time.

First, he heads for the missiles Manta fired at New Venice, and commands a school of porpoises to use soundwaves to throw off the missiles' trajectory, so that they explode away from the city.

We cut back to Mera, who reappeared last issue just as
mysteriously as she disappeared in issue #476. As she comes to, a silhouetted figure enters her room...

Meanwhile, Vulko prepares to send his troops out to confront Manta. But Aquaman arrives, but surprises everyone by not fighting Manta, in fact swimming right past them into the city:
sg...Giordano managed at least one dynamic, memorable sequence in each installment of this series, most of them completely silent. I love Aquaman's look of determination in panel five especially.

Anyway, Manta assumes Aquaman is too chicken to fight--yeah right. Instead, he makes an offer to Manta's army of angry outcasts: that they are all welcome in Atlantis, and there is no need for violence!

Manta's gang drops their weapons, infuriating him(of course). Just as Aquaman turns to face him, he sees Manta trapped in a hard-water bubble, courtesy of Mera!

Turns out it was Cal who found Mera, and told her the thing Aquaman was too busy to listen to--that the man he's been battling is not Black Manta, but is in fact an imposter! Just as Cal starts to explain more, the faux-Manta explodes! To be continued, but in Action Comics #517!

The abruptness of this story's conclusion leads me to think there was some last-minute changes ascribed to Adventure Comics; indeed, with the next issue all three features--Aquaman, Starman, and Plastic Man--would be gone, replaced by a new version of Dial "H" For Hero. Why is anyone's guess.

But after looking up this book on the GCBD, I see that J.M. DeMatteis did indeed write Aquaman's strip in Action Comics--for a few issues at least, which means I've gotta pick them up, since I thoroughly enjoyed his run here on the character.

Even though I felt this issue was the least of the four--it feels rushed--DeMatteis still finds a way to tweak the character, and for the better. Instead of Aquaman trying to bust Manta's head again, he outthinks him and steals his whole army out from under him. That's my hero!

The whole "rushed" feeling extends to the art, too, since we have someone else inking Giordano. And while I mean no disrespect to Steve Mitchell, pretty much no one inked better than Giordano, so his lack of inks here is another minus.

But overall, its still another fine issue, and this brief series remains for me one of my favorite Aquaman runs ever(plus you still get Starman and Plastic Man!).

DC Comics.com just posted the covers for their February '08 books, and a certain Sea King(and his junior partner!) guest-star in the tenth issue of Mark Waid and George Perez's superbly fun The Brave and the Bold!

I already regularly buy B&B, but maybe that month I'll need to buy two copies!


Anonymous said...

Man, that sounds like a pretty awesome story! So, what became of Manta? Who was behind the fake villain? Inquiring minds want to know! Ha, I wish DC were still pumping out Archives, 'cause I could find out if they were reprinting these classic stories.

rob! said...

now that i know DeMatteis wrote the first few issues of Aquaman's subsequent series in Action, I GOTTA GET THOSE!