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Friday, February 29, 2008

Action Comics #519 - May 1981

sgThis issue of Action Comics features the penultimate installment of J.M. DeMatteis' too-brief run on Aquaman.

As J.M. mentioned in
our interview, during this time he was offered an exclusive contract with Marvel, so he left the Aquaman strip, but not before handing in the plots for several issues, with his former editor Len Wein taking over the scripting.

Don Heck continued doing the art, after taking over from Dick Giordano who drew the run when it started in Adventure Comics.

Picking up from last issue, the villainous Poseidon (or a facsimile thereof) had just revealed to Aquaman, Mal, and Mera that he is...Aquaman's father!
Poseidon explains how all this came to be, and relates the story of the original Atlantis, which existed thousands of years ago. The two royal sisters, Atlanna and Atlena, don't see eye to eye on what the Oracle told them is Atlantis' future: an upcoming holocaust!

Atlena believes that the disaster is a necessary evil, and ultimately redound to the city's benefit. Atlanna, though, is busy trying to create a serum that will help the Atlanteans survive it(the scene with Atlanna talking to the Atlantean elders reminds me a lot of another doomed scientist from the DCU who ended up siring a member of the Justice League).

Even though the disaster does it Atlantis, Atlanna took her own serum, which transformed her into a water-breather. She was banished to the Surface World, and it's here that she met the lonely lighthouse keeper Tom Curry, and I think you all know the rest
...it's interesting to me that the big heroes of the DCU have origin stories that can be told basically in just five or six iconic panels. With Aquaman, you have Tom Curry saving Atlanna, then these two panels, then Atlanna dies, and then...bang! You've got Aquaman!

Turns out, though,
that Atlanna didn't die, she was just in a catatonic state, and when she awoke years later she had turned quite mad.

Meanwhile her sister Atlena, trapped in an other-worldly limbo, continued to wait for the Oracle's prediction of an ultimate savior for Atlantis, who they now believe to be Aquaman! Mal and Mera are aghast that Aquaman is buying all this, but he seems to be doing just that.

Meanwhile, Atlena and Ocean Master are watching this from afar, and while she is made Poseidon betrayed her by revealing the "truth", no matter...Aquaman will die anyway, To be continued!

This is the first installment of the DeMatteis run that I felt suffered from the brief page count--there's so many new ideas being thrown around here in just eight pages that it's a bit overwhelming.

Fun Fact: According the Statement of Ownership, Action Comics was selling around 300,000 copies per month at this time. I'm sure most of that was because of Aquaman.


Adama said...

Wow, this sounds like a seriously interesting story. Do you know if its collected anywhere? I don't think the Showcases are up to that era yet...

rob! said...

no, its never been collected! that's one of the reasons i wanted to highlight so thoroughly, because i thought JM did such an excellent job on Aquaman.