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Friday, February 15, 2008

Action Comics #517 - March 1981

sgSince we talked with J.M. DeMatteis earlier in the week, I thought for this week's Comic Friday we'd focus on the issues of his run that ran in the back of Action Comics immediately following the four issues in Adventure.
The cover is by Ross Andru and Dick Giordano, and of course Superman is main focus--duh. But it was nice to have a little corner of it highlighting the Sea King's debut in the book.

The story is titled "Brother Rat!", written by DeMatteis and replacing Dick Giordano on art is Don Heck. This picks up directly after Adventure Comics #478, where Aquaman and Cal Durham find that the Black Manta they've been facing was in fact a decoy, and an exploding one at that
(the worst kind!):
As if he didn't have enough problems, Vulko tells Aquaman that the mysterious malady affecting Mera is slowly killing her, with the only way to save her is to have her return to her home dimension.

Aquaman and Mera ride off, and talk about how they've faced enormous difficulties before, and Mera tries to reassure her husband they'll somehow find their way out of this.

But in the meantime, Aquaman and Mera head to New York City, on the trail of the financial backers Black Manta used to corral the army he used to try and take over Atlantis. New York in 1981 was a rougher town than it is now, an example of which is seen here, where within minutes of coming ashore, Aquaman and Mera are accosted by some toughs. With the limited page count, Heck decides to use this scene more for comedy than for, er, action
Anyway, they find the building, home of The Kingdom of Hope organization, and Aquaman barges his way in, only to find the guy in charge is...Ocean Master!

This of course means a fight, and the two brothers knock each other around for a page or two, ending up on the roof of the building. Orm then gives up--saying he didn't just fail himself, but he also failed his mother!

This startles Aquaman for a moment, long enough for Orm to jump off the roof, seemingly in act of suicide! But when Aquaman and Mera look for him...he has disappeared. To be continued!

As J.M. mentioned on Monday, he feels that Dick Giordano and Don Heck did a superb job illustrating his stories. And while Heck was a fine artist, I personally could never quite embrace his Aquaman, whose face always seemed to be contorted into a scowl, so I feel this part of DeMatteis' Aquaman run is maybe a half-step behind the one by Giordano.

But the story is still solid, and, again, DeMatteis gave Aquaman a little cool moment--the scene with the would-be muggers--that underscores how impressive Aquaman could be, even if this time it was played more for laughs. After all the tough moments in Adventure, it's a nice change to lighten things up a touch.

I have the other Aquaman issues of Action written by DeMatteis in this run(#'s 517-520), so if you want to see how this all wrapped up, let me know!


Scurvy said...

I for one would love to know how this wraps up.

I like Heck's art other than the face. He got the build right in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I agree with...er....scurvy: I'd like to be reminded of this series, AND I think Don Heck was pretty good at times. Not great, but not awful (like Vince Colletta or Frank McLaughlin, ugh, they could ruin anybody!)

Anonymous said...

Man, I need to track these down. These stories sound great.

Adama said...

Yeah, it seems like a really cool issue, although Black Manta's face looks kind of like it got run over by a steamroller. Oh well, you can't have everything.

Anonymous said...

I really disliked Heck's art as a kid. As an adult I can appreciate it more, esp. his SA Marvel work like Iron Man. But I'm still not fond of his 80s DC work. His characters faces always looked too distorted by that time.


Grears said...

I'm with Chris on this one. As a kid I hate when Heck took over Flash. I couldn't understand where this guy came from. But I really am enjoying his Avengers as they are reprinted in the Masterworks, and this Aquaman doesn't look nearly as bad as I remeber his Flash... Which probably wasn't bad at all!