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Saturday, May 03, 2008

All-Star Squadron #59 - July 1986

sgComics Weekend The two issues of All-Star Squadron we'll be talking about for this week's Comics Weekend probably feature the least amount of Aquaman than any book I've talked about before, yet they are important milestones in Aquaman's history.

Of all the books DC was publishing at the time of Crisis on Infinite Earths, no book was more affected than Roy Thomas' labor of love. After DC was done, the entire history of their superhero characters would be rewritten, meaning many of the excellent stories Thomas had written would somehow have to be retrofitted to fit this new paradigm.

Since the biggest stars in DC's publishing stable--Superman, Batman (and Robin), and Wonder Woman--were continually published from the Golden Age until modern day, it was decided to keep them "special", the older versions would be eliminated from continuity. It was Roy Thomas' job to accomplish this during these issues of, er, ASS.

But--along with the big three, Aquaman and Green Arrow were also survivors of the Great Superhero Drought of the 1950s, so DC decided to split the decision. They left the Golden Age Green Arrow (and Speedy) alone, but decided to eliminate the original King of the Seven Seas.

And since Roy Thomas basically never used the Earth-2 Aquaman, he needed to be brought into the current storyline, just in time to be wiped from existence! Talk about missing the party!

So this issue opens with the most amount of action the Earth-2 Aquaman has seen in a comic since around 1956
...here he is confronted by the other heroes, who are understandably skeptical of who this guy really is, since they have had so little contact with the famed "Aquaman":
It's here that the main plot line kicks in, continued from last issue, where regular Squadron member Robotman is in conflict with his teammates.

Previously, the android life form known as Mekanique attacked several heroes, but was stopped before she could do any lasting harm. Before deciding what to do next, Robotman--sensing a possible kindred spirit--took Mekanique back to his own lab, to see if he could examine her, and try and figure out if she is as evil as she appears, or can she be rehabilitated.

The Squadron wants Robotman to return her pronto, but he refuses. So the team puts it up to a vote to try and force Robotman to give in, and here all the team members--even Aquaman--get a vote: should Robotman be forced to turn Mekanique in?
...I have to say, this is a tiny bit, but I loved that Roy Thomas cared enough to make Aquaman one of the minority here. It takes a lot of chutzpah to show up for your first meeting after many years of being a no-show, and then going against the majority of the group in your first vote.

Whether Thomas was retro-planting the Earth-1 Aquaman's more rebellious nature onto his predecessor, or just looking not to make the vote so lopsided, I don't know. Either way I thought it was a cool and telling moment for the character.

Tomorrow: Say Goodbye to Aquaman!


Anonymous said...


Respectful disagreement with you, re: the quality of Thomas's writing - but good essay, about a worthy topic!

It has been theorized, of course, that it is precisely the overbearing obsession with "continuity" that folks like Roy BROUGHT to fandom, then to the business, that CAUSED the need for the constant "Re-Crisising" and "Retroconning" of comics -

- as opposed to just writing good stories with the characters & worlds as found.

Great weekend,
-Craig W.

Siskoid said...

Roy Thomas has his faults, but I loved All-Star Squadron regardless. Hey, Thomas is just fandom's interest in continuity and superhero ephemera made manifest!

And I was glad he could squeeze in the Golden Age Aquaman at the end of the run.

Hatter J said...

All Star Squadron was pretty much the only book that I remained faithful to during that time. Mainly because it was one of the few books that the local grocery story carried consistently. I too got excited to see Aquaman included, but I have to tell you that Crisis really bummed me out at such a young age. Here I was just getting interested in the Earth-2 heroes and then, along with WW, Supergirl, and others, they were basically killed off IMHO. To DC it was like a massive clean-up, but I was a kid of 12 and still managed to understand what was going on and which Earth was which. DC dropped the ball, and I have the feeling that Final Crisis will be screwing it up more.

Anonymous said...

And in the end, the Earth Two Green Arrow was bumped off, too. In the revamped STARS & STRIPE series, the original Green Arrow & Speedy have their places taken in the Seven Soldiers by The Spider and The Vigilante's partner, Stuff.