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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Captain Atom #53 - May 1991

sgComics Weekend I had no knowledge of Aquaman's guest-appearance in this issue of Captain Atom until F.O.A.M. member Frank Lee Delano sent me an email with a list of relatively obscure Aquaman appearances in other DC books, of which this issue was a part. Thanks Frank!

This issue story, sadly, is not called "Attack of the Zombie Dolphins", but rather the more prosaic "Depths", by Dan Raspler, Michael Adams, and Sam DeLaRosa.

It opens with a dolphin carrying some sort of bomb-like contraption, strapped to its head. The narraration is from the dolphin's POV, and we see it get swallowed by a whale. It then slaps the bomb to the whale's side, which explodes, killing it.

The dolphin escapes, but is gravely injured. It makes it way to the shore and grounds itself on the beach, where it is found by local police, who call in federal agents, who bring with them...Captain Atom!

Captain Atom remembers an idea the Pentagon had years ago to use undersea life as weapons, and he goes to check it out. He is told by a general that the program was scrapped years ago.

Meanwhile, another dolphin, the first one's companion, wonders where she went, and is lonely. Luckily it meets a friend
We then find ourselves in an underwater lab, where it seems this "undersea agent" program is in full swing! Run by a man and woman, neither of whom who seem all that interested in the dolphins' well-being.

Captain Atom investigates the wounded dolphin, and wonders why, with such a huge wound, it hasn't died. He figures out that this dolphin doesn't even have any blood inside of it...zombie dolphins!

Both Aquaman and Captain Atom conduct their own further investigations, and their paths cross at the doctor's lab. Aquaman doesn't believe that Atom--being a military man--is as mad about this as he is, but he tables his disbelief long enough to "team-up" and find this doctor.

The doctor in charge tells both heroes that she believes that it is dolphins who will outlive humans, and she is doing all this to prepare them for this eventual change in the social order.

Needless to say, Aquaman and Captain Atom are a tad skeptical, when they are attacked by "Gaia", the killer whale from the beginning, who the doctor has now turned into a mindless zombie. It tries to eat both of our heroes, but Captain Atom fights it off, while Aquaman tries to communicate with it, which doesn't work.

Aquaman then destroys the equipment being used to keep Gaia under control, and Captain Atom arrests the doctor, turning her over to the authorities. Atom explains that, even if dolphins will become the dominant species, they should be allowed to become that in their own time, and not be "conditioned" to make the same mistakes as humans.
I was a tad confused at the ending--Aquaman seems a bit too good-natured about all this, considering how crazy and barbaric this plan is. Plus, I wasn't exactly sure who was talking, due to unattributed captions, which blunted the ending a bit for me.

I like that Aquaman takes Atom at his word, once he realizes they're on the same side--many times writers found it easy to Aquaman a real jerk through a whole story, but thankfully that doesn't happen here.

I have to say, if I was Aquaman, I don't know if I'd ever consort with humans, considering how many insane, destructive plots involving my finny friends I've had to endure from them...

Contest Update: I have extended the deadline for our
Aquaman Design-A-Header Contest. The new deadline is 11pm Sunday, June 15.

I had a few people who intend to create one ask me for a little more time, and I figure if someone is going to bother putting
one of these together for the Shrine, the least I can do is give them the time they need. The winner will now be announced Monday, June 16.


Anonymous said...

Tell the other logo designers not to bother... you know my entry is going to win!

rob! said...

confidence, i like it!

though your comment just might inspire the others to kick it up a notch, to defeat the mighty robby reed...

Anonymous said...

Let them try!

Diabolu Frank said...

I remember sending an email a while back, but the specifics elude me. I do remember this issue, as was a big fan of the first year or two of the Captain Atom series. This was nearly year five, by which point the writing had gotten pretty stinky, though the art actually saw a nice bounce here toward the end. Wasn't Michael Adams one of Neal's kids?

Rick L. Phillips said...

This is odd as at that time I had every issue of Captain Atom but I don't remember this issue. I may do my own overview one day for Mail It To Team-Up now that you have reminded me of it.

Anonymous said...

I remember picking this issue up when it was released although I wasn't buying Captain Atom at the time. I didn't remember a thing about it until reading your description, Rob.

There was another issue of Captain Atom (#30) where Atom battled Black Manta. It took place during the Janus Directive crossover and, at the time, I wasn't buying any of the 3 or 4 books wherein that storyline was appearing. To say I was a bit lost vis-avis the subplots is an understatement. But the main story was a pretty standard hero vs villain dust-up.

IIRC, the Manta came into possession of an alien weapon left over from Invasion. Can't remember what his plot was other than to, y'know, take over the seas, or whatever. He used the alien weapon to battle Captain Atom who had stumbled across his plan. Once Atom destroyed his new plaything, however, he ran like a little girl. Didn't like that bit. Manta is the only Aquaman villain who has earned a place alongside folks like The Joker and Lex Luthor - the only one that non-comics fans might have a chance of knowing - and I'd prefer if he were portrayed as being made of a bit sterner stuff.

Cool Broderick cover, though.

Michael Jones said...

You may want to check out George C. Scott in "Day of the Dolphin" for a similar plot involving dolphins as assassins. They aren't zombies though...