Friday, August 31, 2007

Metamorpho and Aquaman #1 - Oct. 2007

sgLast week was a real rarity--two comics out at the same time featuring Aquaman! I guess DC wanted to lay the groundwork for this new Aquaman's eventual inclusion in the new Outsiders title, so here he gets to share a book-length adventure with good old Rex Mason.

Part four of a five issue storyline called "Five of a Kind", this issue's tale is called "Rogue Elements", by G.Willow Wilson and Josh Middleton. It opens with Metamorpho and Aquaman stranded in the middle of a desert, a good old-fashioned how-are-we-gonna-get-outta-this scenario that would've made Bob Haney proud.

They run into a mysterious woman carrying The Orb of Ra, the mystical doodad that had a hand in changing Mason into Metamorpho, all those years ago.

Turns out there's a war brewing over the Orb, and Batman--as always--has a plan to deal with it, and its he who dispatches Metamorpho and Aquaman to deal with it. The whole Aquaman-needs-water thing is handled ingeniously, by having Metamorpho convert some of himself to water, and then use some of the sand to "refill." Cooool.

Turns out the big bad guy behind this power grab for the Orb is none other than Simon Stagg, Rex's ex-father-in-law(I'm behind the times...what happened to Rex's wife?). Metamorpho manages to get between the two sides, get the Orb, and destroy it once and for all, even though it could help him turn back to normal.

The epilogue features our two heroes meeting up with Bats and his new Outsiders, where Bats tears Aquaman a new one:
sg
Ouch!

While I appreciate Bats' kind words about the original Aquaman, I have to wonder about the approach DC is taking in bringing this new Aquaman into the DCU: he's constantly being told he's not as good, he doesn't measure up, etc. How does having other heroes keep kicking Aquaman to the curb make readers want to follow his adventures? (I know this was the approach DC went when Wally West became the Flash twenty years ago, but by then Wally had been around almost as long as the character he was replacing)

All told, this is much more of a Metamorpho story, but he and Aquaman have a nice rapport courtesy of writer Wilson, and the artwork and coloring is quite nice--there's a sort of soft-focus haze over the whole book, making you feel like you're in the desert, too.

Maybe having this new Aquaman meet lots of other heroes is a good way to get readers used to him; I'll certainly pick up Outsiders as long as he's in it, and who knows? Maybe he can get a shot in Brave and the Bold...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

DC Super Heroes Activity Book by Golden Books Part 2 - 1980

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These were the two places where Aquaman got to participate in the fun and games of the DC Super Heroes Acitvity Book, mentioned yesterday.

For the first piece, you have to help Aquaman figure out what's wrong with the picture, and in the second you have to "Help Aquaman" who seems paralyzed with fear around a shark, which is very un-Aquaman like behavior.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

DC Super Heroes Activity Book by Golden Books - 1980

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Sometimes you have to be a bit creative when searching for things on ebay. Usually a search using keywords "Aquaman" or "Super Friends" is enough, but occasionally you have to try "Super Heroes" and then wade through a lot of stuff to find something unique.

This definitely qualifies, and when I saw it I Buy It Nowed it immediately. It's a 36-page activity book featuring the big guns of the DCU, with art by some newcomer named "Jerry Ordway." Hmm...

Aquaman makes a couple of appearances inside
(he doesn't appear on the cover, though--Hmph.), like in this friendly group shot, as well as a "stamp" that you were supposed to tear out and place in the correct spot in the book. He also gets a two-page "What's Wrong With This Picture?" puzzle all to himself, which will show up tomorrow, as well as a small role in a maze.

One odd thing--there is absolutely no trace of The Flash in this book. There's Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Superboy, Supergirl, and Batgirl, and Captain Marvel--but no Flash(sorry, Dixon). As the kids say, what the dillio?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Justice" Action Figure - 2006

sgSince I have already posted the companion Black Manta figure from the Justice line, it's past due to talk about the Aquaman one, again via an Alex Ross design.

Ross is one of the best friends Aquaman ever had, since he's a professed big fan of the character, and he seems to go out of his way in his stories to give Arthur at least One Big Moment where he really gets to shine.

While I've professed my love for the visual approach Neal Adams and Jim Aparo gave Aquaman--a lithe, swimmer's body look--I do like Ross' beefy, solid-looking Aquaman, too. He looks like he can punch a tank!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Aquaman Shrine Interview with Jim Calafiore - 2007

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As soon as I saw Jim Calafiore was at the last Philadelphia ComiCon, I made a beeline to his table to ask him for an interview. After mumbling something to him that at some point contained the words "Aquaman", "Blog", and "Interview", he generously agreed:

Aquaman Shrine: Did you read comics growing up?

Jim Calafiore: Of course, from the time I could read. The first comic I remember picking out and buying myself was Incredible Hulk 127.

AMS: Were you familiar with Aquaman much when you got the book?

JC: Yep, big fan of the character. He was in some of the samples I sent to the editor Kevin Dooley, and I didn't even know he was editing the book.

AMS: Were there particular artists you saw (in comics or not) that inspired you to be one?

JC: A lot of artists have influenced me, but I don't think you see it in my work. Sometimes John Byrne slips in to my faces. My biggest artistic influence however is without question the french illustrator Girard/Moebius.

AMS: What was it like working with Peter David?

JC: It was great; Peter's a good guy. At that time his plots were less than complete scripts, so I had room to play with page breakdowns.

AMS: You did a really beautiful, poster-like cover for Aquaman #36. That's not a question, I just wanted to say that.
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JC: Yeah, one of my favorites; an iconic shot.

AMS: A lot of your work ended up on merchandising (a postcard, the DK Guide to the Oceans book), did you ever do stuff especially for licensing?

JC: Not that I can remember, but it's cool that the stuff lives on. And DC does pay for re-use!

AMS: Any favorite characters you'd like a chance to draw but haven't yet? Or any writers or artists?

JC: I don't think there are any writers or artists I'd like to draw...we're a generally ugly unkempt bunch. (Although here's a little secret: I did use Grant Morrison as the model for a character in an issue of Exiles. I'm not saying which one...) Seriously, the list of writers I'd like to work with is too long.

As for favorite characters, I've pretty much drawn everybody in one way or another, if not in their own book. I'm doing a Batman mini right now, and he's too cool.

It was so cool to meet Jim face to face at the con, and it was great of him to take some time away from the drawing board to talk with me for the Shrine. Thanks so much Jim!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

OverPower Card - Into The Depths #6 - "Swamp-Things!"

sgPart 6 of the OverPower series!

"Lured deep into Slaughter Swamp, Batman and Aquaman must overcome it's deadly denizens before facing the most dangerous of them all...the insane murderer, Killer Croc!"

Where's Alec Holland when you need him?

The gripping conclusion on Saturday, September 1st!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

OverPower Card - Into The Depths #5 - "Whitewater!"

sgPart 5 of the OverPower series!

"Killer Croc is headed for his old stomping grounds in Slaughter Swamp. Three miles from the Gotham Narrows Bridge, Batman and Aquamanrace there in as many minutes."

...and here I thought this card was going to be about Bats and Arthur investigating shady land-deals in Arkansas. Oh, well.

Part 6 tomorrow!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #55 - Oct. 2007

sgI didn't get a chance to do a Comic Friday last week, so I thought I'd catch up on the newest issue of Sword of Atlantis.

When
last we left them, Aquaman was imprisoned by the villanous Krusivax and we just discovered the other bad guy behind the scenes, Vandal Savage!

Lorena discovers the real plan--to use some mysterious sea creatures to cause earthquakes that will sink Los Angeles, Tokyo, Shanghai, and other populated areas into the sea! The whole goal of this is to "thin the herd" as Vandall Savage calls it. A percentage of these newly-sumerged people will be bioengineered to breathe underwater, like the residents of Sub Diego. These people will become the pawns of Krusivax and he will have an empire.

Aquaman manages to talk the mastermind behind the mechanics of the plan, Gregory Jupiter, into freeing him, playing on Jupiter's guilt into being duped into helping create this mad plan. Aquaman rescues his now unconcious father, when they're discovered by Savage, who has a little experience pounding on superheroes. He almost succeeds, until the new Flying Fish sneaks up on him and knocks him out.

Just as Savage is about to kill him, Mal, Cyborg(!), and Lorena in a new, ass-kicking battlesuit break in and promise "Y'all are so busted."

Overall, a good issue, with the ultimate bad guy plot being the classic kind of supervillain tomfoolery, ratcheting the stakes up so that Aquaman is trying to save basically the whole world. I do wish Aquaman got a little more to do--he's trussed up for half this issue, then after only a page or two of fighting Savage he gets knocked out again--but I think it bothers me more because I know there's only two issues left and I want to get as much Aquaman action in before that.

McManus' art is, as always, excellent, with a nice combination of cartooniness and gritty realism. If the original Aquaman ever returns in his own series, I'd love to see McManus handle the art. The cover by Kevin Maguire is also very cool.

This new Aquaman is going to be making appearances all over the DCU in the next few months, so it certainly seems like DC is trying to establish him as the new, permanent Aquaman. But there's evidence to the contrary, too, so we'll just have to wait and see...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sippy Cup - 1999

sgOne of the weirder-looking items of the collection; you can drink your water, Juicy Juice, or perhaps whiskey right out of Aquaman's back!

This was sold at Great Adventure amid all the other Pirate Aquaman bric-a-brac, and it's probably my favorite of 'em all. The scultping is nice and its a really fun idea for a piece of merchandise.

Of course, I'd kill to see this same item but with classic Aquaman...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Vs. Card by Alex Ross - 2005

sgThis Vs. game card featuring a dynamic, exciting shot of the Sea King by Alex Ross was one of those items I saw on ebay all the time and never quite got around to picking up, for some reason.

Thankfully, now I don't have to, thanks to newest F.O.A.M. member Doug Zawisza, who generously sent me this card(in an envelope bedecked in fish stickers) just so it could "
earn me a spot in F.O.A.M."

Done and done. Thanks Doug!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mike Wieringo 1963-2007

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I realize I'm coming a little late with this, but I wanted to make sure and say something about Mike Wieringo.

I always admired "Ringo"'s work, and when I saw these sample Aquaman pieces he did in conjunction with Mark Waid's pitch for a new Aquaman series, I got so angry and sad. Angry that DC passed on this idea--twice--and then sad knowing now that Mike is gone it will never, ever be, and us AquaFans fans will be denied it,
not to mention all the other wonderful work Mike would've gone on to do.

I'm always searching the web looking to see what writers, artists, and editors I can contact for either an interview or maybe even an Aquaman sketch. Not that many of the people I pursue have their own website, but Mike did, and when I came across it I made a mental note to someday email him to commission a sketch. I would've loved to send him my book and get an original Mike Wieringo sketch of my hero. Seeing the above piece makes me mad at myself for not doing so immediately, it woulda been great, and I would've had the chance to tell him how much I liked his work.

Below is the text from Waid's proposal(which he posted at
Newsarama's tribute to Mike). I know there's lots of variables in the world of comics that we as outsiders don't know about, but considering a lot of the stuff that does get published, I'm at a loss to explain how this idea, from two established talents like Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo, didn't get the immediate green light:
AQUAMAN: Title TBD
A One-Issue Prestige Format
Mark Waid/Mike Wieringo
Preliminary Pitch/August 3, 2003

I am so sick of people making fun of Aquaman that I'm beginning to take it personally. For the last ten years or so, the way we've been scrambling to combat Aquaman's "Dork of the Sea" image--and I've been guilty of trying this, too--is by making Aquaman increasingly darker, grittier, and tougher, the brooding, angry king beset with trouble. Each incarnation of the character seems grimmer than the last, to the point where all that's left for us to do is give him two hooks. And a peg-leg.


OR--here's ANOTHER thought. Yes, the seas can be turbulent and stormy, but y'know what? Far more often, the ocean is a universal symbol for peace and contentment. It's a calming influence. If it weren't, Bermuda would be deserted and Hawaii would be an industrial trade port. It is most people's "happy place." Yes, the ocean is the set piece for A Perfect Storm, but it's also the world of Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid. I have never yet met anyone of any age who didn't come away from Sea World envying the guides who swim with the whales and porpoises. I propose we turn this "grim Aquaman" paradigm around for a one-shot and see what happens. "Test the waters," if you will. I know, I slay me. Anyway...


Our POV character in this story is a female marine biologist--and since Aquaman's turf covers the world, there's no need to make her American. (In fact, Russian is preferable--I've been doing a lot of reading about the culture of Russian courtship, and that could really play in nicely.) At any rate, our biologist--let's call her Yelena for now--may have heard the name "Aquaman" here and there, but to her, he's about as real and significant as, say, German football stars are to you and me.

Yelena's work is done with grungy old equipment and spit-and-bailing-wire technology, the best she has to work with. Her whole world has a gritty feel to it--

--so when this bright, blond, shining knight of a man pops out of the water and into her life, she's addled simply by the contrast.


Their paths cross, she's drawn into an adventure, and to Yelena, this "Aquaman" is, yes, mysterious like the sea--but in a warm, enticing way. To Yelena, he is otherworldly, like a fairy tale character come to life. He rarely speaks (though when he does, he's staggeringly charming), he lives in the water, and he smiles. Constantly. In fact, at first, Yelena has a nearly impossible time taking him seriously. He's like a walking cartoon.


And yet...the more she gets to know him, the further she’s drawn out of her world and into his, she'll come to realize that there's something going on behind those wide eyes of his. Looking in them, she sees peace and confidence; looking through them, she's gradually introduced to an underwater world of absolute wonder, a place that is far more colorful and in tune with nature than is her own gritty lifestyle. Once she surrenders to the implausibility of it all, she's rewarded a thousandfold, and so are we. Aquaman’s joy becomes her joy becomes OUR joy.


There will be no mocking. NO jokes about how "dumb" talking to fish is. Anyone with a keyboard can make cynical jokes. That’s easy. What’s harder is reminding you why, when you were a kid, you thought the idea of living underwater or commanding the creatures of the sea WAS cool. We can do that. We can remind you, and Yelena’s awed voice will be there to back us up.



Ah, what might have been...not only did/does Waid get it--what was wrong with DC's then-take on Aquaman as well as how to fix it, but as you can see it would've looked like gangbusters. Rest in Peace, Ringo.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Birthday Card Game - 1982

sgThis is a birthday card that came with a built-in card game, with little punch-out cards featuring various members of the DCU, all by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez(the Aquaman shot is one of my favorites of his).

According to the back, you play the game like this:"Punch out cards. Shuffle them, and deal out equally to all players.

Each player looks at their cards and puts any pairs face down on the table. The first player chooses a card from the hand of the player on their left.

If it matches a card they are holding, they place it on the table with the other pairs they have discarded. The player on the right then chooses from the player on the left, and so on around the table.

Whoever is out of cards first is the winner. The loser is the player left with The Joker card."

What's extra neat about this is it features some characters who really didn't make it into merchandising all that much--Plastic Man, Captain Marvel(in the 80s, at least), and Hawkwoman!

Someone has written in the name "Joshua Winter" on the inside of the card; I hope he appreciated what a cool birthday card this is.

If you want to try and play the game yourself, click
here to print out a high-res sheet of cards!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

OverPower Card - Into The Depths #4 - "Maelstrom!"

sgPart 4 of the OverPower series!

"Killer Croc throws open the sluices in a subterranean pumping station--engulfing Batman and Aquaman in a roaring, swirling, tidal wave. All of the Sea-King's prowess is needed to save them."

Batman really looks pissed here!

Part 5 on Saturday, August 25th!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

OverPower Card - Into The Depths #3 - "Rat Pack!"

sgPart 3 of the OverPower series!

"Killer Croc's trail leads through a crumbling sewer tunnel--where Batman and Aquaman run into a pack of marauding rats. It's hook and flare against fang and claw!"

Hook and Flare, Fang and Claw? Weren't they professional wrestlers?

Part 4 Tomorrow!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Original Illustration by Craig Hamilton - 2007

sgOk, where to start with this masterpiece by our pal Craig Hamilton?

I'm not going to get into how awesome it is--you can see that for yourself. The story I will tell is how I ended up with this in my possession.

Craig had done this piece for an upcoming gamecard set, and really, as they say, knocked it out of the park. Soon after he sent me a scan of it as a nice preview. After I raved about it, Craig let me know he was offering me first dibs on buying the original.

And as much as I wanted it(and I reeeeally did), I just couldn't justify spending that kind of money on any Aquaman stuff, no matter how awesome it was. Yeah, I'd love to have this piece on the wall of the new house Trace and I eventually plan to buy, but I think I should save up to get the house first.

Anyway, I showed the scan to Trace, who was as impressed as I was. I made a joke that, you know, she could get it for me as my birthday present. Y'know, if she was so inclined. After three or four hints of that subtle nature, I stopped because I didn't want Trace to feel bad about the real present she probably had bought me already. Within a couple of days I had forgotten all about it.

So I go out and get the mail on Monday morning, and, lo and behold, there's a package from Craig! I open it up and there it was--the masterpiece in my hands, faint pastel smell filling the air. Enclosed with it was a birthday card--from Tracy.

She had contacted Craig, arranged the purchase, then sent him my birthday card, which he packaged in with the piece, so it all arrived together. For a few moments, I was actually speechless(and as Trace will tell you, that doesn't happen much). I just sat there, staring at this thing, appreciating the beauty of it as a superb piece of illustration, as well as the fact its of my hero, looking as powerfully majestic as he ever has. And it was from Trace, for my birthday.

She was at work, so it took me a few minutes to get ahold of her, and gave her the chance to revel in her cleverness, accepting the million thank-yous I was now throwing her way. As I told her, its simply the best birthday present I've ever gotten, and the fact that she went to so much effort to get it...ah, words fail me. Thanks, Trace, your aces.

One final note: Craig asked me not to post the original scan he sent before the cards came out, a promise I intended to keep. But I wanted to post this so bad this week, since it's birthday-related. Then I figured if I scanned in the whole 14x16" piece, with the little color swatches Craig put on there(upper and lower right corners), then I was really just posting an item I actually own, not just a scan of a piece that will show up on a card down the line. Yeah, I know, a technicality, but can you blame me?


Update: Upon further reflection n the cold light of day, I've decided to obscure the above image in deference to Craig's wishes for it not to be seen before the gamecard comes out. I don't want to get him in trouble with DC or anything. Not being a gamer, I didn't realize how a big a deal it is for these new sets to come out. I just spoke to a friend who knows this stuff better than I and indicated that these sets are eagerly anticipated, so previewing the art ahead of time is a bigger deal than I first thought.

It'll go back up when the card set comes out, so at least for now we still have the awesome story!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Super Friends Party Favors, Circa 1977/1978

sgToday's my birthday, so I thought I'd run my two favorite family photographs, both Aqua-related of course!

My Dad got two weeks of vacation every year, and we always spent them in a cabin at the Poconos, in Pennsylvania. The cabin overlooked Lake Wallenpaupack (immortalized in the "Booze Cruise" episode of The Office) and we always went the same time in mid-August, which covered my birthday and my parent's anniversary.

Even though there was no TV and not much to do, I loved going to what we called "the Mountains." I would anticipate the four-hour drive for weeks, amassing a huge pile of comics for the trip up, and once we got there I would constantly badger my parents to take me to the various newsstands, tobacco shops, and grocery stores that all carried comics. Sitting on the porch, looking out over the lake, reading my comics was heaven. Of the few comics I still have kept from my collecting days, the vast majority of them were ones purchased up in the Mountains.

Anyway, as you can see from these photos of my birthday celebrations, taken in 1977 and then in 1978, I was a creature of habit. I loved the Super Friends--and a certain orange-suited Sea King, who was of course among them--so these two photos are nearly indistinguishable from each other, save the "6" and then "7" candles(and the addition of a Tie-Fighter in '78). I was easy on my parents(in that way, at least). Heck, we probably had the same decorations in August 1979, too.

So Aquaman was always there, present for some of the best times of my childhood. Is it any wonder I have this blog?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Aquaman Chronicles - 2001 - present

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I finally got caught up on all the back issues of the super-fun fanzine The Aquaman Chronicles, the brainchild of AquaFan Extraordinaire(and now F.O.A.M. member)
John Schwirian.

John sent me a giant package containing the first fourteen issues, and I spent a fun day immersing myself in All Things Aquaman(though how is that different than any other day, I'm not sure) and being pleasantly surprised that some of its contributors are commenters here!

And as you can see from some of the covers I selected, John features material from some of the best artists in the business, like Eric Shanower and Steve Epting. If you're an AquaFan, you should definitely check in on Chronicles. There's more info about the series at Laura's site
here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Super Friends Stock Art by Kurt Schaffenberger

sgThis is an unusual piece of stock art, since this time its by Kurt Schaffenberger, who you didn't see too much on the merchandise, even though he had a solid, very family-friendly style.

And as you can see, this was another one of those pieces(like one we saw on the Superman Gift Set) that incorporated Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and Batgirl into the Super Friends family!

My only nerdly quibble: shouldn't Aquaman, being an essential element of the show, be further up, just behind Robin?

Monday, August 13, 2007

DC Super Friends Figure by Mattel - 2007

sgMy Super Friend has arrived!!

F.O.A.M.er Charles Howell let me know that Toys R Us's website was selling some of the new Mattel DC Super Friends figures, Aquaman being one of them!

I gave Target one last chance to stock him, but I knew that when I happened to be there on Tuesday morning around 1030am and the Super Friends pegs were picked clean(the victim of a Comic Book Guy-esque collector I'm sure), I figured it would be forever until I found him, so I went right home and ordered the Sea King(two of 'em!) online.

Having opened one up, it's plain to see that these are a really fine line of toys--not only is the figure sturdy and well-made, not only does he squirt water(!), not only is Aquaman in his classic uniform, but he comes with a little collector card that is one piece of a larger group shot, thereby instilling that I-gotta-get-'em-all mentality that all good toy lines have.

I've heard that in addition to the initial line of Aquaman, Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, and Lex Luthor, Mattel is going to release a Hawkman and Cyborg, with hopefully more to come. This line deserves to be a huge hit--they are perfect for little tykes to play with, and for overgrown fanboys like myself to treasure.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

OverPower Card - Into The Depths #2 - "Fireball!"

sgPart 2 of the OverPower series!

"Batman recognizes the smell of a burning fuse--and he and Aquaman dive for their lives. Killer Croc has escaped--by sacrificing his own men in the explosion."

Even though Aquaman in his BLL guise, I do like the sense of depth he's given here, with the all-black legs. Looks cool.

Part 3 next Saturday, August 18th!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

OverPower Card - Into The Depths #1 - "AquaAttack!"

sg(Forgive any errors I might commit in writing this post, since my ignorance towards these card/RPG games is obvious.)

This is the first card of seven in a series called "Into the Depths" from OverPower, telling a sort of complete story I guess, which I have to admit is a pretty neat idea. The art for the card is uncredited, which seems to be the standard for these card games.

As you can see, this set features a team-up between Aquaman and Batman, and as the back of the card states: "The murderous Killer Croc and his gang are hiding out on Gotham Harbor. Hot lead sears the chill night air as Batman and Aquaman arrive to bring them to justice."

To be continued tomorrow!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Aquaman (Vol.1) #53 - Oct. 1970

sgIt's Comic Friday again, and I thought we'd talk about one of the best issues of the Skeates/Aparo/Giordano run of Aquaman(and that's saying something!), #53's "Is California Sinking?"

I've always thought, of all of DC's characters, Aquaman was the hero most naturally suited to environmentally-themed stories. DC was still behind Marvel in getting its heroes to confront real-world problems, but Steve Skeates was ahead of the pack with this self-contained issue.

After this great cover by Nick Cardy(he was always good at these bifarcated images; amazing how much he could cram onto a cover and still not make it seem crowded), we open with a real grabber of an opening page:
sg
...now that's a splash page!(sorry)

It opens in the home of big-mouthed millionaire Eliot Harlanson(hmmm....), who is being told that Atlantis will soon rise out of the ocean, causing massive flooding in California and destroying his million-dollar luxury home. He doesn't take the news too well, so when this "scientist"(who wears a slick suit and shades indoors) tells Harlanson he could buy an A-Bomb(!) and destroy Atlantis, he actually considers it!

We find out that the "scientist" is in fact a member of O.G.R.E., a criminal organization who wants to take over the ocean, and figures bombing Atlantis is the best way to do it! We learn that they have a plan to keep Aquaman in Atlantis when the bomb is dropped...

Cut to: Aquaman being tempted into a fight by Black Manta, who has some new ray that can repel Aquaman's finny friends. While the Sea King knows he's being suckered, he goes out anyway and Manta realizes to his regret Aquaman is able to withstand the ray's effects by concentrating his mental powers. Manta calls his goons to kill Aquaman, but Arthur threatens: "Call your men off, or you'll be minus one arm!", as he begins to bend Manta's arm back. The SAG version of Aquaman doesn't mess around!

Aquaman slaps Manta around til he confesses that he was hired by O.G.R.E. as part of a bigger plan, so Aquaman goes a-hunting. He spies a mysterious sub, and commands a giant squid to grab the sub. It does, and Harlanson, who is on the sub(he's hands on), gets furious and releases the bomb. The captain of the sub tells Harlanson that they are so close to the bottom of the ocean that if the bomb does go off, they'll be caught in the blast! D'oh!

The bomb lands, but doesn't go off--a dud! Harlanson is furious for being double-crossed by O.G.R.E., and after that two-page "Reader's Survey" DC was running in its comics at the time(Superman: "Let's Rap!"), we find Aquaman talking to a government agency, having just arrested the members of O.G.R.E. involved in this cockamamie scheme. It turns out that the bomb was a dud, but that's because O.G.R.E. had been infiltrated by an insider--the beautiful Honey James(!), who was Harlanson's seemingly dim-witted girlfriend during this time.

Aquaman and Aqualad take off, talking about what will happen if, as the prophecies say, Atlantis does rise to the surface one day. Arthur relieves his young friend by saying it's not supposed to happen for 2,000 more years, so they have plenty of time to worry about it.

But of course, the question still stands...Is California Sinking?

Of course, once you've read this story, you realize that at no point does California sink, and the opening page of the story(repeated at the end) never actually takes place. The environmental hook is mostly a red-herring, since the whole thing is contingent on Atlantis rising, something, you know, we probably don't have to really worry about.

Doesn't matter, though, since the story is still a lot of fun and moves at a breakneck pace(as most of these SAG Aquaman stories did) and keeps you hooked until the very end. Nice job, Steve, Jim, and Dick!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Magnet by Ata-Boy

sgThis was a fun little item sent to me unexpectedly by F.O.A.M.er Chris Franklin. He and his family were on vacation, and when he saw this magnet(approx. 3 1/2" x 2 1/2") he thought of me and the Shrine and picked it up. What a pal!

There's no date on this piece, but it does say "TM DC Comics", and when you go to their website it does seem like they have the actual rights from DC, but their products are just odd enough that it makes you wonder.

And like on Tuesday, this is a piece of beautiful Garcia-Lopez stock art saddled with a really goofy logo.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Adventures With The DC Superheroes Geppi's Giveaway - 2007

sgAnother item sent to me by F.O.A.M. member Chuck "D.C." Dill, this was a giveaway comic distributed on Free Comic Book Day by Geppi's Entertainment Museum in Baltimore(man, I gotta go check that out sometime).

According to Chuck, "The inside story is just the Batman/Cap Ripken team-up against The Penguin that's been showing up as an insert into DC's Cartoon Network titles. As you can see, our boy is waiting patiently in line."

See? Even a monarch waits his turn. That's my hero!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Aquaman Stock Art by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez

sgOne of my personal favorite pieces of stock art by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, and as far as I know, one that's never been used on anything. That 3/4 profile; the use of negative space, the overall design--just brilliant.

The only thing that mars it is that very bizarre Aquaman logo--when the hell did that get made? Aquaman has one of the best, most beautifully-designed logos of any superhero; this squat, cartoony one is just way out of left field. In fact...
(hold on a second)
*
*
*
sg...there, that's better.

Monday, August 06, 2007

SuperHeroes Punch•O•Ball - 1973

sgOk, I'm just going to get this out of the way right now--my first reaction to seeing a photo of this item on ebay, with its attendant tubes(not pictured here), was not good. "Oh, no", I thought, "Super Friends Enema Kit."

Luckily, a second, more detailed examination revealed that some merchandiser had not gone insane and it was just an uninflated rubber ball, festooned with 4/5ths of the Super Friends. Where's the love for the Amazon Princess?

The Aquaman and Batman art are classic stock shots, the Superman one I know I've seen before but can't quite place it. Too bad the manufacturer only sprang for two colors!
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Shamless Plug Dept: Normally I don't cross-promote my other blogs, but its a special occasion: over on today's Digest Comics, I've got that blog's very first interview with Best of DC editor (and writer/co-creator of E-Man!) Nick Cuti, who was a very fun and generous soul, so please go check it out!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

(Black) Manta Week, Part 7: Adventure Comics #452 - Aug. 1977

sgWe end our (Black) Manta Week with this, "Dark Destiny, Deadly Dreams" by David Michelinie and Jim Aparo, a story featuring the single nastiest blow a villain has ever dealt a superhero.

Many people would say the Joker killing Robin II holds that title, but I would argue this is worse--Robin, even though he was still a kid, was engaging in dangerous superheroics, and one could argue that someone, anyone who puts on a costume who takes on super-villains is "fair game."

But when Manta kidnaps Arthur Jr.--who is barely past being an infant--and puts him in a death-trap that leads to him actually being killed, he has gone beyond any notion of "rules" of conduct. It's such a grim stroke to the story that you kind of can't believe you just read it.

How Aquaman, who has never had a great control of his temper anyway, didn't immediately murder Manta the next time he saw him, is something that I think has never been adequately resolved. Sure, much like the Joker, he's too good a villain to kill off, but even as a kid I never totally bought that Aquaman wouldn't spend the rest of his days hunting down and killing Black Manta--and be pretty morally justified in doing so.

Worse still, Manta makes Aquaman choose between saving the life of Aqualad or his son, and instantly Aquaman says "sucks to be you, Garth" and fights him. So of course, not only does Arthur jr. die, but his relationship with Aqualad is shaken--though I have to admit, Garth giving Arthur crap about while he's cradling his son's corpse makes Garth seem...unsympathetic, to say the least. Hey, Garth, can you think about something other than yourself for five minutes?

There's an argument to be made that this was the beginning of a real downward trend for the character, since many writers since turned Aquaman into a brooding, mopey jerk, forever pining his dead son, his previously-blissful marriage shattered. It certainly is one of the most shocking acts of villainy ever seen in a mainstream superhero comic, and it was delivered by Black Manta!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

(Black) Manta Week, Part 6: "Justice" Action Figure - 2006

sgBlack Manta played a big role in the Alex Ross mini-series Justice, and so when it came time to make action figures, Manta was an early addition(there's a companion Aquaman figure, of course, and we'll post that here one day, too).

It's really hard to render his helmet realistically, since if its off a touch it can look really goofy, and I think there's a little of that here, but overall its a nice figure and I like how sleek Manta looks; plus that weapon he's got just looks really nasty.

Friday, August 03, 2007

(Black) Manta Week, Part 5: Heroclix - 2006

sgNot being a gamer of any sort, I never have any clue when there's an Aquaman-related piece of gaming merchandise. Luckily, my good pals over at All Things Fun keep their eyes out for me, and snag any Aqua-item that crosses their path.

So a few months ago as I came in to pick up my comics, Ed of ATF handed me this little beauty, free of charge! I was thrilled with their attention not to mention their generosity.

It is a neat figure--the proportions are cool, and I like the pose. I picture him standing on cliff underwater somewhere, waiting to get the drop on Aquaman...
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Bonus:Sketch by Doug Slack from 6/13/07:

sgI'd be remiss in my round-up of All Things Manta if I didn't include this sketch(or a portion of, at least) done for me by my pal Doug Slack of Aquaman, since Doug threw in Manta as well!

Manta looks so cool here, all hunched over, ready to strike!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

(Black) Manta Week, Part 4: Who's Who Entry - 1985

sg

















This is Manta's super-cool entry in the third issue of Who's Who, art courtesy Bill Willingham and Romeo Tanghal. I like his hands in those "It's all mine--all mine!!" classic super-villain contortions.

There isn't much info on Manta, though how DC knows his marital status is single is anyone's guess.

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Bonus:Aquaman/Black Manta Super Friends Set from 11/28/06:

sgAnother beautiful piece from DC Direct. When I think of Aquaman (oh, and I do), this tends to be the one I think of, since as a kid I was totally addicted to the Super Friends show.

The sculpting, the colors, the presentation...all of it is just beautiful. I would've loved it if DC Direct had gone all the way and made a scale Legion of Doom headquarters for all the villains to hang out in, but what the heck. I can take an old Darth Vader style Star Wars Action Figure Collectors Case and it'll be close enough.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

(Black) Manta Week, Part 3: Top Trumps Card - 2007

sgThe third of the way cool Top Trumps cards that were generously sent to me by F.O.A.M. member Brian Dixon (he of Crimson Lightning), this time of the evil Black Manta!

Like the Aquagirl and
Aquaman cards, the art for this is uncredited. Unlike those though, this card is so simple its almost abstract--Manta looks creepy and emotionless as ever.