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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Aquaman (Vol.4) #2 - Jan. 1992

sgComics Weekend I've only talked about this fourth Aquaman series once before, so it's long past due to look it over again and see what we find!

Aquaman ran from Dec. 1991 to Dec. 1992 with almost the exact same creative team-- writer Shaun McLaughlin, and artists Ken Hooper and Bob Dvorak-- on the entire run, a rare event at the time (and even more rare now).

Frequently, the covers (like this one) were by Kevin Maguire, who gave us some of Aquaman's finest, in my opinion.

This issue is continued from the previous one, with Aquaman trapped under a pile of rubble, the result of the country known an Oumland having attacked Poseidonis with nuclear missiles and shock troops.

As a missile heads towards an unconscious Aquaman, an Atlantean citizen rockets toward him, taking the brunt of the explosion herself, freeing and saving her hero in the process.

After Aquaman wakes up, he sees his old friend Vulko has been hurt in the attacks, and uses his finny friends (in this case a school of giant squid) to grab the subs and keep them from moving.

Aquaman then learns from some Poseidonis citizens that it was they who attacked a surface ship, starting the war in the first place. Aquaman then heads to the surface to find out exactly how all this got started, though it doesn't go well
...this leads to a funny sequence, where we have a nice microcosm of Aquaman's main problem in dealing with the Surface World:
...nothing says "I came to talk!" more than throwing punches.

Aquaman then gets shot in the leg, slowing the fight down long enough for an Oumland government official to tell his people to cease the attack.

Later, we have the two of them discussing what happened, and Aquaman is less than pleased that, even though his people fired off nothing more than a warning shot, Oumland retaliated with an all-out attack.

Aquaman returns to Poseidonis, feeling guilt over being away from his people, unable to help them while they were under attack.

He gets there only to find another problem: a massive group of sharks are heading their way towards the city, and it citizens...and they are no longer listening to Aquaman. To be continued!

I remember not being much of a fan of this series when it first debuted, partly because of the art, partly because I've always found Atlantis-centric stories the least interesting facet to Aquaman's back story.

But at the time, I took for granted that Aquaman would always have some sort of solo book, so I didn't feel too guilty about not supporting whatever series he had at the time. I now know better.

Like I said about the Peter David run, I have a greater appreciation for these issues now then I did at the time, so be here tomorrow for the next chapter!


Diabolu Frank said...

This was a good series, but I completely understand why it was cancelled. The first issue didn't "sell" readers on the book, and in fact by my recollection things didn't start firing until 3-4 issues in. It also faltered during the 2-part "eco" story with guest art by Vince Giarrano, and never had a chance to recover.

Readers do not care about Atlantis as presented by either Marvel or DC. I believe it is an essential aspect of the character's viabilty, so it's imperative for a writer to reconceptualize Atlantis into something that will enhance (rather than damage) Aquaman's marketability. It seems to me the iconic presentation of Aquaman appeals to the masses, but his trappings handicap him. This series was a prime example of that failing.

Ken Hooper's art was really nice, but it had a Hal Foster passivity to it that was directly at odds with the market (then and now.)

Shaun McLaughlin's characterization of Aquaman matched the art. This was a defeated man who had resigned himself to circumstances he finally acknowledged he could not control... which is deep, but not classically heroic. He soldiered on, but his pseudo-ambassador role and low-key vibe cast him a bit close to the Post Crisis Wonder Woman, no great seller herself.

In terms of developing the psychology and unique aspects of Aquaman, the series was an artistic accomplishment. As an attempt to endear readers to an historically slighted super-hero, it was a disaster. I'd still take it over the Peter David mess, though.

Hatter J said...

I was one of those readers that weren't sold by this, and unfortunately, I let my feelings about this book ruin me for future Aquabooks to come (I skipped the whole hood hand series-which I have just NOW started to collect).

The art was what did it. It could have been the best story in the world, but the art sucked. From the very first issue, that image of the Oumlandian subs attacking Atlantis which looked like bad sci-fi. I always felt like the subs could have been suspended from fishing line and the whole set was in front of a bad backdrop. Then of course was the first shot of Arthur swimming where he looks like he is trying his worst to ballet in an undercurrent. What should have been a money shot ruined this whole series for me.

Anonymous said...

I've never read these, but it actually SOUNDS sort of cool. I mean, after all, what is better than Arthur taking on an army? Ha, anyway, I understand the reaction so many people have to Atlantis in Aquaman stories, but I believe it is a result of bad writing rather than a bad concept. I think Atlantis has TONS of potential to be a great source of stories for the Sea King, but instead it is usually turned into story telling dead weight.

Doug said...

Kevin Maguire rocked these covers like no one else!

I'd love to see Kevin have a go at the interiors of an Aquaman series.