Happy New Year, and welcome to the Aquaman Shrine's first official blog team-up!
For your reading pleasure, today we present a review of Brave and the Bold #73, featuring a team-up of the King of the Seven Seas, Aquaman, and that Tiny Titan, The Atom!
Both the Shrine and my pal Damian's super-fun Tiny Titan blog are reviewing the same book today, so once you've finished this post, head on over there to read Damian's thoughts from a more Atom-centric perspective! It's the first of what I hope will be many team-ups(next year we'll visit a world where blogs are only about super-villains, I guess).
Ok, so let's get started:
This is "Hail, Galg the Destroyer!" by regular Aquaman scribe Bob Haney, with pencils and inks by Sal Trapani, with a busy cover by Carmine Infantino and Chuck Cuidera. As you can see, it appears Aquaman is choking to death, underwater! What the--?!?
It opens with Aquaman and his sidekick Aqualad stumbling upon a band of underwater thieves, who are busy plundering some treasure. Aquaman assumes this will be easy pickings, but as they approach they are blasted by some sort of high-tech weaponry!
Aquaman and Aqualad manage to shake it off, but after a few punches thrown the thieves manage to get away. As the good guys give chase, suddenly the thieves begin to shrink and shrink and shrink...
Aquaman takes a sample of the water to Atlantean scientist Vulko(making his first appearance and looking decades younger than he would later on), and after careful examination they realize that the waterdrop contains a whole universe inside it. Then without warning, Aquaman is hit by a beam and sucked into this tiny world! Vulko, Aqualad, and Mera realize the only one that can help them is Aquaman's JLA teammate, the Atom!
Ray Palmer receives the urgent summons for help and gets the skinny from Mera, who gives him a kiss for luck. Ladies Love Ray Palmer.
The Atom shrinks himself down into this microscopic world, where he confronts--don't laugh--a giant evil purple starfish-kinda thingy named Galg, the Destroyer(I said don't laugh!). Galg is holding Aquaman captive, having rendered him completely unconcious. Unfortunately, this is pretty much all that Aquaman does for the rest of the issue, letting the Atom be the real hero of the story(I can hear Damian smiling from here!).
Galg reveals his plan to escape his tiny dimension and rule Earth(of course), and quickly finds the Atom's brilliant intellect to be worthy of respect, and foolishly explains his plan to Ray. Has Galg never seen a James Bond movie?
Ray manages to play along and at the right moment, uses his powers as he's never had to use them before and defeats Galg by expanding in size so rapidly it knocks Galg out(I know, I know, but this is a Bob Haney story; it doesn't--in fact, doesn't want to--have to make a whole lot of logical sense).
Aquaman wakes up, thanks Atom for his help, and Atom gives him the whole "just glad to be of help" thing. The ever-lovin' end!
Obviously, I was a tad disappointed when I first read this story, since Aquaman gets knocked out early and pretty much stays that way(you know, just like in Justice), but since Bob Haney wrote Aquaman for years you can hardly accuse him of not being able to write the character. More likely he had either never or rarely had the chance to write the Atom before, and took this opportunity to write a story centering on his abilities.
The art, "by" Sal Trapani(I put that in quotes because I've read that in a lot of cases, when Sal Trapani was listed as the artist, it was frequently him inking over others) isn't bad, and in the opening pages especially the book looks to be by Nick Cardy, who of course was Aquaman's regular artist.
The style loosens up a bit as it goes on, and there a couple of panels(like this one) where the lighting is pretty darn cool and makes for an unusual looking book, at least by DC's standards at the time.
This issue is sort of historic, in that its the last issue of Brave and the Bold that didn't feature Batman as half of the team-up. Since sales reports couldn't have come in that fast, we can't blame Batman's headlining of the book on low sales of this issue. In fact, both the Atom and Aquaman would reappear here, teaming up with Batman less than a year later.
...we hope you enjoy today's first-ever team-up bewteen our two humble blogs. Aquaman and The Atom frequently commisserated with one another(probably at the open bar after JLA meetings) about their supposed "lesser light" status, and I think the shame that comes from spending part of your life obsessing over such characters informs both my and Damian's outlook on life(but we don't let it stop us...that's what makes us heroes).
Just like Arthur and Ray stood up for one another, I think that's what The Aquaman Shrine and The Tiny Titan("T3") will do, and I hope this is the first of many team-ups between our two blogs, just without the endless transporter malfunctions that dumps us both on some crazy planet where the Nazis won World War II or something.
And who knows? If someone out there has a Seven Soldiers of Victory or Freedom Fighters blog, maybe we'll work them in one day, too...