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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Adventure Comics #443 - Feb. 1976

sgComics Weekend Since Aquaman was on the sidelines for last weekend, I thought we'd have him front and center this time, by talking about his superb second solo series in Adventure Comics!

Before we even get to the story, I wanted to take a moment to talk about how much I love this cover--it works as a great, iconic shot of Aquaman, while giving you a touch of the story within.

Even with the trouble brewing, look how dynamic this image is--its a bright, clear day, and you're riding a dolphin! What's not to love?

Anyway, as I said above, this was Aquaman's second series in Adventure Comics, and one of his best--drawn by Jim Aparo, and written by approximately forty-three different writers.

In this case, the story is "The Dolphin Connection" written by David Michelinie, Paul Levitz, and penciled, inked, and lettered by Aparo, featuring another one of his wonderfully exciting opening sequences
Aquaman saves the dolphin, but is shocked when he is told that that dolphin was carrying five million francs worth of heroin! Mon Dieu! The Dolphin with The Golden Flipper!

Anyway, turns out some drug smugglers in France are using dolphins as mules (stay with me), but Aquaman has ruined all that! So Arthur offers to make it up to the police, by going undercover. But he's not great at not attracting attention:
...I know there's a meme that Hal Jordan gets hit on the head a lot, but Aquaman could give him a run for his money.

Anyway, the assailants dump him in the water, but it turns out Aquaman was playing possum! He wanted that to happen, so he could now follow the smugglers to the head man!

He follows the smugglers on their boat, until he comes across a floating marina. He shows up there, has a friendly octopus pal bust some drug smuggler skulls, and then quickly has them all trussed up. He demands to know who their boss is, and he finds out!:
The Fisherman seals off his marina with a giant dome (to keep Aquaman's finny friends out) and then knocks Arthur out with a gas bomb.

When Aquaman wakes up, he's trapped in an air-tight chamber, which is slowly losing what air is in there!

The Fisherman walks off (big mistake), but Aquaman sees if The Fisherman's dome extended below the platform. Turns out it doesn't, and his friend Topo arrives to rip open a hole in the floor, freeing Aquaman!

The Fisherman is shocked--shocked!--that Aquaman has survived, so he decides to beat a hasty retreat, but not before throwing a mini-grenade Aquaman's way!

The Fisherman boards a helicopter, but Aquaman grabs a nearby anchor, and, in an incredibly badass sequence, brings it down:


Later, the French police thank Aquaman for solving the case, and Arthur heads home to Atlantis, for a little peace and quiet.

But there's none of that waiting for him there, as we see that the ruling council of Atlantis has unanimously voted in...a new King of Atlantis!

To be continued!

A great little story, well told. Aquaman slamming The Fisherman's helicopter out the sky is nasty as all get out--from what I remember, Fishy is just a normal guy, not possessing super-powers, so the fact that he survived at all is amazing.


Anonymous said...

In total agreement on that cover, Rob. Aparo was at the top of his game.

Gotta give it up for the redesigned Fisherman, too. As a kid I couldn’t get over that panel with the big reveal. Just consider how strong Fishie must be to lift Aquaman off the ground like that. And that mask? Very stylish. I also dig the Fisherman’s “better part of valor” attitude. In this age of “cool” villains, you just don’t see that stuff anymore

I’ve mentioned before my love for this run. Simply put, Adventure #441 thru Aquaman #63 are my absolute favorite Aqua-stories and, therefore, some of my favorite comic book stories of all time.

Many people site the Steve Skeates / Jim Aparo run that began with Aquaman #40 as their favorite take on the character. While I agree that the stuff they were doing at the time was very inventive, too often Skeates’ stories cast Aquaman as just another character in the book that bore his name. I don’t want the feds to defeat the villains. Aquaman is the title on the cover, let him be the hero of the story.

There is no doubt that Aquaman is the hero of these mid to late 70’s tales. Many people (perhaps the very same “many people” from my last paragraph!) dislike this run because they see it as the beginning of the darkening of the character. And certainly one of the most disturbing events ever to occur in a super-hero comic book transpires in Adventure #452 so I’ll admit that it’s hard to argue against that position. All I can say in response is that, as a kid, these stories thrilled me like no others.

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a tale! I've always had a soft spot for the Fisherman, even if he is goofy as all get-out. There is great potential in the character, and at least in a story like this you can see it. I really want to get my hands on this run. Aside from the death of Arthur's son, great stories were told in these comics.