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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Adventure Comics #444 - April 1976

sgComics Weekend A special book-length story in this issue of Adventure Comics!

Picking up from last issue, just as Aquaman had apprehended The Fisherman and started heading back for "a little peace and quiet" in Atlantis, we discovered that a new ruler has been elected in Aquaman's place!

This issue's story is "And Death Before Dishonor" written by Paul Levitz, Gerry Conway, and of course drawn by Jim Aparo.

Like I've mentioned for every issue in this series, Jim Aparo treated us to some wonderfully dynamic splash pages.

Not that DC ever had bad lettering, but since Aparo was doing the job himself, it couldn't help but allow him to compose the most exciting image possible, since he could control where everything went
Aquaman and his finny friends make it back to Atlantis, only to be stopped at the city's gates by Atlantean guards!

Aquaman, as is his wont, doesn't listen and quickly subdues the two guards. He thinks these two are goofing around, and tells them they may just find themselves spending "five years of communing with penguins!"

Aquaman then heads to the arsenal to pick up some Serum X had that he needs, though when he hits the fingerprint-activated controls, he gets a bit of a shock:
...that looks really painful. Nicely done, Mr. Aparo!

Anyway, now we see what has led up to this. While swimming home, Aquaman overhears on a surface dweller's radio that Atlantean vessels are attacking the country of Monaco, demanding a ransom in gold and silver! What?!?

Aquaman finds a fleet of underwater ships off Monaco's coast, and uses his electric eel pals to determine which ship is the main power source, figuring that houses the invasion's commander!

He smashes his way in, and get a terrible surprise as to who's behind all this
Orm, guarded with a force field that keeps him safe from attack, demands Aquaman retrieve some Serum X, which Orm wants to use to create his own undersea kingdom!

We then cut back to the present, and Aquaman is waking up in front of Mera and his old friend Vulko, as well as Atlantis' new king, Karshon!

Karshon tells Aquaman that he has spent too much time away from the city, adventuring as a superhero, and says that if Aquaman attacks the arsenal again, he will exiled from the city! On top of that, they won't give him any of the Serum, telling Aquaman Ocean Master is his problem, not Atlantis'!

Aquaman is non-plussed, but luckily Mera is on his side:
Aquaman makes his way into the arsenal via a giant boulder made of coral, only to see Karshon waiting for him inside!

Karshon--and his pet shark--attacks him, but Aquaman gets off a lucky shot by throwing the giant coral rock at the shark, smashing its teeth in, leaving it to swim away in a trail of blood.

A few inches from the Serum, Aquaman stops, and realizes stealing it would be morally wrong. He swims off, determined to find another way to stop Orm.

This was not what Karshon was hoping for, as we learn he has a plan for Aquaman...but what is it?

Soon, we see Orm's fleet of subs attacked by giant killer whales and electric eels, with Aquaman back for a second go-round with his brother:

Ocean Master does manage to launch his missiles at Monaco, but luckily Mera is there, who uses her hard-water powers to grab them and explode them harmlessly!

Aquaman thanks Mera for showing up and saving the day, but she tells him all is ot not well--Serum X is missing anyway, and Aquaman is being blamed for it! Mera and Arthur Jr. were chased out of the city, and escaped only thanks to Vulko, who stayed behind. Arthur says he should go back to see who is framing him, but Mera offers maybe they should make that decision together, leading to one of my all-time favorite Aquaman panels:
A wonderfully happy, beautiful image--The King of the Seven Seas and his Queen, and their son. To me, this is Aquaman.

To be continued!

For some reason, Aquaman's normal page count got expanded to a full book for this issue (not that I'm complaining). In addition to the extra Aqua-content, we get another bonus page re-introducing new readers (remember them, comics industry?) to the cast of characters:
I feel like I should permanently post this on the right somewhere.


Swinebread said...

that is dam fantastic art I must say

Anonymous said...

This was an awesome issue, tying in to the whole JAWS thing perfectly. This whole story arc was great. I think I'll go re-read these issues right now...! :-)

Anonymous said...

Man, Rob, you and I agree, that last panel with the Aquafamily, that IS Aquaman. That is one of the great things that differentiated him from all of the other heroes, his supporting cast and their relationships. I've heard of the Karshon storyline before, but it is cool to see it explained in more detail.

Hatter J said...

It is really interesting how the Karshon story plays out. I actually have an old issue of Adventure that follows this story line and has WW fight the villain that Karshon really is (don't want to spoil it for those not in the know).

I loved this run and was fortunate to find replacements for my "missing" issues recently. I do like the last page that describes the whole Aquafamily, and that is one thing that I really miss about the comics of the 70s. Who's Who entries are fine and all, but really don't compare.

Luis said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Jim Aparo is a master of comic art. That is one great looking comic.

Anonymous said...

i have this isssue and i want to sell it.its a bit worn but i found it.
do you know if anyone that would be interested