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Friday, January 04, 2008

More Fun Comics #73 Millennium Edition - 2001

sgFor the first Comic Friday of 2008, I thought I'd go back--way back, as far back in Aquaman's history as you can go-- to More Fun Comics #73, November 1941.

Of course, not being a millionaire, I don't own an actual copy of that book, which even when I was a kid was listing in Overstreet for like twenty grand(it was listed as "Rare", at the time--anybody know if that's changed over time?), so I went for the next best thing--DC's mostly faithful Millennium Edition, part of their series of reprints of important books in the company's history. They left out the ads, but everything else from 1941 is still in there!

The inside cover editorial mentions this book was "bursting with memorable heroes" and that's right--in just this issue alone, we've got Dr.Fate, Green Arrow, Radio Squad, Johnny Quick, Clip Carson, The Spectre, as well as Aquaman! Even more unusually, both the Sea King and the Emerald Archer make their comic book debuts in this issue, making this book sought after by more than one group of obsessed comics fans.

The untitled Aquaman story, by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris, comes last:
The story opens with a passenger ship being sunk by a Nazi sub, who even decide to fire upon the lifeboats! Luckily, an arm suddenly appears out of the water to grab the lifeboat and drags it out of the way of an incoming Ratzi torpedo:
After getting the refugees to safety, this mysterious figure jumps aboard the Nazi ship, knocking various crewmembers overboard! The captain crawls back inside, ordering the ship to submerge. Our hero then jumps back into the water, commanding a school of porpoises to drag the boat to land!

The ship's captain asks who this "man of the sea" is and what land he hails from. He replies, "From no land. My name is--Aquaman!"

We then find out this "Aqua-Man"'s origin--turns out his father, an undersea explorer, managed to build a completely water-proof home under the sea, where he discovered some secrets from the lost city of Atlantis! Part of their miraculous science was a way to extract oxygen from water and turn the power of the sea into making one strong and swift, turning his son into a "true dweller of the deep."

After turning down a reward from the captain, Aquaman heads back into the water to find those Nazis, which he does. One of them manages to drop a sledgehammer on his head, knocking him out(beginning the first of many, many Aquaman stories that would turn on Aquaman being rendered unconscious by a hit on the head). The Nazis tie him up, weigh him down, and throw him into the ocean--big mistake!

Aquaman can't quite break the chains himself, so he commands his finny friends to help him. He then finishes the job he started, knocking those Nazis senseless. When one of them throws a grenade at him, he catches it and hurls it back, exploding an entire storehouse of their munitions, killing the Nazi commander!

Aquaman jumps back into the sea, ready for future adventures:
...could anyone have guessed from this modest tale that people would still be talking about this character sixty-seven years later?

I'm sure Mssrs. Weisinger and Norris were just trying to do their jobs as best they could, but they managed to lay the groundwork in these eight pages for something so enduring that the character would become a cornerstone of the DC universe. Thanks guys!


Tegan said...

The coloring on the Aquaman story is completely wrong in the reprint. Aquaman's gloves and "fins" are yellow, not green.

I heard through the grapevine that DC lost their original copy of this story when a reprint was done some time ago. For the Millennium Edition they had to borrow a copy to get the "next issue" box in the final panel, which was changed in previous reprints.

I'm still looking for scans/copy with the original colors intact. And should I someday get rich, I do want a copy of this book.

rob! said...

i should've mentioned that. is the reprint intact anywhere? his gloves are green in the 1973 "Secret Origins" reprint, too!

Anonymous said...

Notice on the splash page how Arthur punches the shell fired from that submarine deck gun. That weapon, used to fire upon and sink other ships, is like the swatting of flies for Aquaman.
Why is Aquaman never portrayed as the powerhouse he has been since day one??

Anonymous said...

I thought that originally his gloves were green, but somehow someone in the 50s starting coloring them yellow, and that stuck for a few years. What's the true story on this????

rob! said...

Laura's the expert, but i believe Aquaman's gloves were yellow from his first appearance all the way into the late 50s in Adventure, when they started being colored green, intermittedly going back to yellow on occasion(they're even yellow in B&B #28).

then finally someone stopped the yellow gloves, and that's the sorta unofficial beginning of the Earth-1 Aquaman(when Aquaman of E-2 showed up in All-Star Squadron, they were correctly colored yellow).

but to make things confusing, subsequent reprints have recolored Aquaman's gloves green, from the late 60s on.

Anonymous said...

You know, I've seen this splash page before, but I've never heard the actual story. Thanks Rob! Ohh, yeah, I love that shot of him swatting the shell aside too, quite awesome!

Tegan said...

Yellow gloves from day one until Adventure #211 (April 1955). I've been reporting on the glove color in the Ripples Through Time feature on my Blog, but there's more about it in this post as well.