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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Aquaman (Vol. 1) #50 - Apr. 1970

sgComics Weekend I thought it might be nice to have a post script to our Dick Giordano Week by talking about some of the issues of Aquaman by the SAG team that we have yet to talk about here on the Shrine.

I picked this issue when I was reminded about it by AquaFan Shag Matthews (aka
The Irredeemable Shag) because of a particular panel inside, which we'll get to in a moment.

Anyway, this is the fiftieth issue of Aquaman, featuring the first of three Deadman back-ups, written and drawn by Neal Adams, no less! Apparently this was to give Aquaman artist Jim Aparo a chance to get caught up on his deadlines (after all, Aparo was penciling and inking the book) by shortening his page count for a few months.

But these weren't any old back-ups: no, editor Dick Giordano had these Deadman stories tie into the main Aquaman story, so you felt like you were getting a complete, book-length story, even though both stories could stand on their own, as well. Neat!

After the spiffy cover by Nick Cardy, we have this boffo splash page by Aparo:
Aquaman wakes up, having been knocked unconscious last issue from a mysterious weapon wielded by some aliens. He wakes up in some weird fantasy world, filled with odd shapes and colors, and tries to recall what happened leading up to this...

He and Aqualad were coming home to Atlantis to see his old foe and half-brother, Ocean Master, talking to his wife Mera!

Orm tells Arthur he's not there to fight, and that he now knows that he is Arthur's half-brother. But he didn't know that when he contacted...them!

Them? Aquaman wonders. But before Orm can answer, "they" have arrived--two aliens who shoot Aquaman with the aforementioned weapon!

Aquaman encounters a weird, amoeba-like creature, which is fought off by a beautiful woman who he can't seem to communicate with. But before he can even try, Aquaman receives some sort of telepathic signal, which he heads off to investigate.

Turns out its coming from a futuristic city inside this weird dimension, and he follows the mental trail to inside a building.

On his way there is the "famous" panel where Aparo decided to work in the names of a few dozen comics pros, including himself, writer Steve Skeates, and editor Dick Giordano
...see if you can name 'em all!

Aquaman finally makes it into the building (but not before fighting off an armed guard, who shoots him with a weapon that fires the green bubbles we see on the front cover), and its here where he and this mysterious woman can talk.

Aquaman tries to find out "where" this place is, but the woman doesn't offer any help other than they are in "the city." Aquaman wonders if there's anyone else here that can help him.

Yes, there is--the feared Brother Warnn, who arrives and demands to know who this stranger is! To be continued!

Meanwhile, over in the Deadman story, titled "Deadman Rides Again", Deadman tells Rama Kushna he wants to head out and confront the evil in the world (oh, is that all?) and Rama directs him towards a mysterious craft making its way through the ocean.

Deadman finds it to be manned by...Ocean Master! He doesn't know who this guy is, but follows and watches him as Orm makes a deal with the two aliens, who promise to kill Aquaman!

Deadman doesn't like the sound of that, so he takes over Ocean Master's body to find out what Orm's part of this deal with the aliens is. There's a part of Orm's brain Deadman can't pierce, so he tries a little harder:
...this makes Orm realize he is Aquaman's brother, and he immediately regrets the "hit" he put out on his brother. Deadman then goes to take over one of the aliens, but the other one seems to know something's up, and lets a small rat-like creature loose which is able to attack Deadman! To be continued!

I thought this was a really neat idea, having a back-up tie into the main story, to give it more context. And any comic with art by Jim Aparo and Neal Adams, with a Nick Cardy cover, is a pretty darn good comic book. We have editor Giordano to thank for putting together such a solid string of issues, this one being a particularly fine example.

According to the Statement of Ownership, at this time Aquaman had a print run of about 300,000 copies, selling around 156,000 for a sell-through of just over 50%, which wasn't too bad. Not Batman or Spider-Man numbers, but I think about three times what the last Aquaman comic sold.



Scurvy said...

hey a *too many to name* effect!!!

The Irredeemable Shag said...

Awesome! What a great issue! That panel with all the names has always been one of my favorites. Thanks for doing this piece, and thanks for the shout out.

The Irredeemable Shag

Richard said...

I think this may have been the first issue of Aquaman I ever read, which would be odd since I was a devoted viewer of the cartoon. Still, what an introduction to the book! And what spectacularly poor timing on my part to have discovered it so late...