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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Aquaman (Vol.4) #13 - Dec. 1992

sgComics Weekend The final issue of Aquaman!

This fourth Aquaman solo series only ran thirteen issues, yet as we've seen over the past few weekends, it had a lot of fine moments. And, in many ways, it was (to date) the last series to feature what I've come to call Classic Aquaman.

An while the previous issue ended as a springboard for the soon-to-come Peter David Aquaman: Time & Tide mini, this series went out on a high note, with a very unusual, memorable issue.

Despite the action-filled cover, this issue's story, "My Hero" (by regular writer Shaun McLaughlin, guest penciler Chris Schenk, and inker Bob Dvorak) is about a young boy who idolizes the King of the Seven Seas
The story opens in a hospital, as we see two boys, one of whom is clearly deathly ill, discussing their heroes. The sicker one insists Aquaman is no match for Superman or Batman, but the other, our narrator, thinks that is bunk.

After their nurse tells them its time to go to sleep, he sneaks out and hitches a ride with a trucker. He tells the tucker he wants to go the lake, and when he's asked why, he says its because he wants to see Aquaman.

The trucker tells him he saw Aquaman once, at a charity water show where some of the JLA were performing. When a gang of armed kidnappers arrive, the heroes do their thing:
...but he says that he snuck around the back of the heroes tent and saw that it was all faked, they were just actors! The kid doesn't believe it.

He gets out and then gets picked up by a woman in a car, who takes him for a meal at a diner. Aquaman comes up again, and this woman has her own story.

While vacationing in the Hamptons, a whaling ship surfaces, bringing forth the wrath of Aquaman:
The kid doesn't believer her either, since that doesn't sound like the Aquaman he knows. She pays for his meal and leaves, shocked at his rudeness.

Another stranger, overhearing their conversation, offers to take the kid to the lake.

When he asks why the kid wants to see Aquaman so bad, he's evasive, and the stranger surmises the kid is sick. The kid--who we learn is named Tony--won't admit at first, but the stranger's kindness gets him to drop his guard and admit that he is dying.

The stranger then tells him a story, involving the seagoing criminal The Scavenger. The Scavenger is attempting to steal some medical supplies that went down with a sunken ship, when Aquaman stops him.

The Scavenger gets Aquaman caught in his ship's pincers, but he relents when Aquaman tells him the vaccine is for kids with measles. The Scavenger remembers having them himself, and is floored that Aquaman would risk his life for such a cause.

When given the chance, Aquaman refuses to turn The Scavenger in; in fact, he tells the police that this is his partner! How does the stranger know all this? Well...:
While having a meal at the stranger's cabin, there's a knock at the door, and on the other side is...Aquaman!

The kid goes nuts, and The Scavenger, whom Aquaman calls Mort, tells the Sea King he'll explain everything. In the meantime:

...the end.

A very sweet and unusual story, and a fine way to end the series.

Rediscovering this series has been a real treat, and now that I look back on it I'm sorry this particular series didn't get a chance to go on longer. Writer Shaun McLaughlin was getting better and better as the series progressed, and was developing Aquaman away from the mopey grouch he had been for so long.

But we're not completely done talking about this series--be here tomorrow for an interview with the man himself, Shaun McLaughlin!


Anonymous said...

This issue includes one of my favorite quotes:

"That's it. That's the way it always is. I caught you fair and square and you go and call the damn fish."


It's a shame Mortimer's reformation didn't stick. His use in Hawkman #15 as 'the avatar of the Barracuda' - a vile child pornographer - was really, well, vile. I would have preferred that Mort remain a friend and ally to Aquaman, someone who Arthur could go to for technological aid and advice. Aquaman needs some land-based members for his supporting cast to balance out the largely dreary Atlanteans.

Besides Mort's criminal past could serve as springboards for new adventures. What happens when Kobra shows up to settle an old score? Stuff like that.

Yet another in the very long list of missed opportunities associated with Aquaman. Do the creative teams not see this stuff?

Oh, well ...

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you. When I read that issue of HAWKMAN that turns The Scavenger into a pedophile, I was SO angry. Plus, the suggestion that Aquaman either never knew (too naive) or didn't care REALLY annoyed me. I believe I threw that HAWKMAN issue to the floor in disgust after reading it.

Anonymous said...

Excellent ideas Vince, and no, I really don't think creative teams see this stuff. There are endless missed opportunities with 'ol Arthur, and that is perhaps why I like him so much. It certainly isn't because of any stories of his I've read, as there have been precious few good ones that I have managed to get my hands on. Instead, it is because he is a character with near limitless potential, albeit one whose potential has been squandered for nearly thirty years now. This does sound like a good story, and a pretty cool way to end the series.