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Friday, January 18, 2008

Adventure Comics #441 - Oct. 1975

sgThis was Aquaman's first run in Adventure Comics as the lead feature; for years he had been "the support act" for Superboy and then (just before getting promoted) as back-up to Michael Fleischer and Jim Aparo's superb Spectre run.

Even though it only lasted twelve issues, it obviously made quite an impact--not only did it lead to a return of Aquaman's solo book, but this series is frequently cited when you ask an Aquaman fan what are some of their favorite stories. It's hard to go wrong when you've got Jim Aparo drawing Aquaman.

This first story is "The Pirate Who Plundered Atlantis", by Paul Levitz, David Michelinie, and Aparo. Even though these stories were a mere eleven pages long, Aparo still had room for a series of superb, exciting splash pages, somewhat of a lost art in comics nowadays. And this first one was one of the best
Great use of staging, color, and design; once again, it warrants stating--Jim Aparo Rules.

Anyway, the story opens with Aquaman attending to typical Ruler of Atlantis business when an old-time foe of the Sea King, Captain Demo, send a video message stating he will be converting Atlantis to a home for undersea criminals!

Aquaman silently takes off, and attacks Demo's shipful of silly-drenched henchmen. They focus their attention on him, paying too little on Aquaman's finny friends, who start grabbing the Arthur Treacher cast-offs left and right. That allows Aquaman to nab Demo, who rears his hook hand(rarr!) to fend him off.

We then, surprisingly, cut to a new scene, where Demo is the new King of Atlantis! Huh? What the?!?

As the citizens of Atlantis castigate Aquaman for betraying them, Mera and Vulko attempt to defend the royal compound from Demo. She goes after Demp directly, when Aquaman actually attacks Mera to get her to stop! (I know someone who's sleeping on the Royal Couch when all this is over)

Aquaman leads the line of people offering plunder to Captain Demo, enduring the taunts of his former subjects. He offers up to Demo a giant oyster, which snaps close on Demo's hooked hand! While Demo frees himself, Aquaman informs him he placed a jamming device inside the oyster, rendering bomb controls in Demo's hook inoperative. Good thinking, Arthur!

tells Demo he gave in to him to stall long enough to come up with a plan:
...and, I don't know, maybe it's me, but I've always found this panel on the right comical yet horrifying--as Aquaman talks to the head bad guy, his henchmen are getting the kelp beaten out of them by Arthur's finny friends.

Unfortunately, while Aquaman is rounding up the other henchmen, Demo escapes on his schooner. Aquaman considers pursuing him, but chooses to stay behind to help clean up--both literally and figuratively--Atlantis.

A fine tale; it moves at a brisk pace and of course looking at Aparo's Aquaman is always a pleasure. A fine start to the series!

For Futher Reading, check out F.O.A.M. member Vicent Bartilucci's fine piece over at
Hey Kids! Comics about this very issue!


Anonymous said...

Now THIS is what Aquaman adventures should be all about! Call me stupid, but I always hoped Demo would come back. For a kid HUNGRY for Aquaman solo adventures, this series ruled.

Anonymous said...

Exactly, that's a good Aqua tale. I'm not a fan of Captain Demo, I think he, and most characters wearing period clothes in a modern setting, are a little goofy. Still, that art is fantastic, and that last panel really shows you just how awesome Aquaman can be.

Anonymous said...

"that last panel really shows you just how awesome Aquaman can be"

From all I've read, that's what made Aparo, in some ways, The Perfect Comic Book Artist:

He not only had craftmanship to spare, but he Got It - he loved comics, new the drill, and didn't look down on them. He wasn't always just marking time, hopimg to upgrade to Newpapers, Commercial Art, etc.

Great weekend, all!
-Craig W.

Damian said...

I'm loving the art. That last panel is the... how the kids say, the bomb. That's how I'd want my Aquaman to look.

I really like the cover too. Hero and his finny friends matched up in even numbers against baddies. Woo!