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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Adventure Comics #448 - Dec. 1976

sgComics Weekend A full-length Aquaman story this issue of Adventure Comics, where we finally get to learn the true identity of the villainous Karshon!

Aquaman's got a lot going against him on this cover--his own people, a shark, and then Karshon! Will he survive?

This issue's story is called "Crown, Crisis, and Cataclysm", drawn by Jim Aparo (of course) and written by Paul Levitz (one of the few issues where Levitz got solo credit).

After the interruption of last issue, this installment features the return of the very cool Aparo splash pages
Since last issue, Aquaman has returned home, to find his home ransacked, and his wife and son kidnapped! Arthur figures Karshon is behind this, but is momentarily stunned by the turn of events.

Unfortunately, he doesn't have time to indulge himself, since Black Manta, like a bad penny, turns up again to taunt him. Aquaman isn't in the mood, and starts to bitch-slap Manta:
...those slaps really look like they hurt.

After getting blasted by Manta, Aquaman wakes up imprisoned, chained to a wall, along with his old friend Vulko.

As Vulko fills Aquaman in on what's happened to Atlantis under Karshon's rule, Manta and Karshon squabble over the master plan. Manta wanted to kill Aquaman when he had the chance, but Karshon raps Manta across the face (dome?) and basically tells him to kiss off. Manta leaves, swearing revenge...

After the guards come in and take Aquaman away, Vulko is rescued by Aqualad, Aquagirl, and their friend Mupo, who start to clue Vulko in on their plan.

Meanwhile, Karshon tells his guards to release Aquaman, he wants to deal with him personally. Big mistake, since he is no match for the King of the Seven Seas--but of course, Karshon is tricky. He flips a switch, and:
But Karshon is shocked to see that Aqualad and the others--followed by a throng of Atlantean citizens--are right behind him.

They see that Karshon has been lying to them, telling them that Vulko died while in prison, among other crimes. The crowd gets angry, and demands Karshon's head.

Aquaman demands to know where Mera and Arthur Jr. are, but he breaks free and reveals his true identity:
...the supervillain The Shark!

Aquaman recognizes him from his previous fights with Superman and Green Lantern, and The Shark tells him that he has returned to his natural habitat--the sea--to go after the greatest, more powerful prey...Aquaman!

He shows that he has Mera and Arthur Jr. in a tank filled with sharks, used literally as bait. The Shark proposes a hunt, and if Aquaman survives, his family goes free!

Aquaman cautiously agrees, figuring its the only way to save his family. And since The Shark has been using his telepathic powers to keep everyone inside Atlantis, Aquaman must face The Shark all alone.

After a few well-thrown punches, The Shark lives up to his name:


While being chased, Aquaman makes his way to a bunch of barrels of radioactive waste, dumped there by the Surface World (damn Dirt Walkers). He then makes a giant water swirl around The Shark, temporarily confusing him.

When The Shark sees a trail of blood leading to the barrels, The Shark picks one of them up, smashing it into the others, causing a massive explosion!

Turns out this was Aquaman's plan--he figured the sight of blood would drive The Shark's inner shark into a frenzy, not thinking about what he was doing. The subsequent radiation set off by the explosion made The Shark revert back to his original form, "a helpless ordinary creature of the sea."

Aquaman passes out from the radiation, too. But he is soon found by his friends and family, ending with the proverbial Happy Ending :
...nice! Aquaman has finally shed the burden of the throne, and is now free to be a full-time superhero and family man! Oh, if only it would last!

The Shark is a creepy villain, and this one of the few (only?) times I can think of when a bad guy actually went ahead and bit the hero. I'm sure The Joker must have tried it at least once...

Karshon/The Shark's palace--complete with Falling Net Action--practically cried out for a Mego playset. At the very least, they could've slapped a green bodysuit on a Batgirl body and called it Mera.

Oh, what could have been...


Diabolu Frank said...

Say, I was watching the Venture Bros. season one DVDs over the weekend, and it occured to me I've never seen Hank Ventures Aquaman underoos mentioned here. Did I just miss it?

Anonymous said...

The Shark is such a natural foe for Aquaman I'm surprised they haven't met more often.

That's one of the reasons I love this run so. apart from re-introducing forgotten Aqua-foes like The Fisherman and The Scavenger, it also features the Sea King in combat against super-villains that are just perfect for him, like The Shark and Starro.

I would have loved for Aquaman to square off against The Tattooed Man whose original "sea captain" look would have made him a natural for this run.

Any other DC Super-villains Aquaman should battle? Hey, Rob, hozabout a poll?

Anonymous said...

Haha, good question Frank! Wow! I've heard about this storyline, but it is great to get a play by play. This story seems spectacularly cool, with all of Aquaman's top foes showing up to take shots at the Sea King.

I agree Vinc, GL has enough villains, The Shark should DEFINITELY have been transfered to Aquaman's Aqua-Foes. I had never thought of the Tattooed man, but that's a good idea. As a sailor, it makes sense for him to run into Aquaman. We should definitely have a pool about other DC villains Arthur should fight...and maybe Rob could mock up a cover for the winner?