] type='image/vnd.microsoft.icon'/>

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Aquaman (Vol. 1) #4 - Aug. 1962

sgComics Weekend The return of Quisp, everyone's third-favorite interdimensional imp!

Looking back over the Aquaman comics I've covered, I've seen that I've given short shrift to his early adventures.

I guess that's natural, since I grew up in the 70s and 80s, so it was those adventures where I first encountered Aquaman and made the strongest impression on me.

But the early tales deserve some attention too, so I thought for today I'd go back all the way to 1962, right after Aquaman finally got his own title and was showing DC he could be a headliner too, by gum!

This issue's story--a "3-Part Novel" as the cover promises--is "Menace of the Alien Island" by Jack Miller and Nick Cardy, and it starts with a freak tidal wave threatening a small fishing village.

Aquaman and Aqualad are too late to stop the wave, but do help rescue the citizenry, with the help of some finny friends. Then another tidal wave swoops in, but luckily someone else arrives to help, as well...Aquaman's impish pal, Quisp!
Quisp dispels the wave, but disappears before Aquaman can thank him....strange!

Then, out of the mist, they see a giant island has suddenly materialized just a few miles away. Aquaman and Aqualad investigate, only to be attacked by some sort of laser cannon!

They escape that (and another death trap), then make their way to the other side, where they meet another strange being:

Between this and the next story page are three pages of ads, so the comic makes room for a second splash page:
...I miss this style of comic book storytelling. Having another splash page, complete with a separate chapter title, makes the book feel like a complete story, you know? Like they used to do on TV shows coming back from commercial.

Anyway, the alien they met is about to attack, when Quisp shows up again and saves Aquaman and Aqualad's bacon. Quisp tells our heroes that there are more of these aliens under the sea!

Aquaman and Aqualad climb in the elevator-type machine on the beach, which leads them to a spaceship, where they meet more of the aliens. Turns out these aliens are in the middle of an interspecies squabble--one set of them tried to steal a new machine some of the others were building.

When that happened, the scientists sent the machine into space(!), but the baddies imprisoned the scientists and followed the trail, which led to Earth.

Aquaman and Aqualad head out to find the machine and the aliens, and they are momentarily stopped by one of the aliens trapping them in an energy bubble (see the cover).

But Quisp is there, and he helps free them, but it looks like he loses his life in the attempt, as the alien blasts him into atoms!

No time for tears, though, as our heroes discover a group of the aliens have found the machine, and are carrying it onto land. There, they aim it at a giant stone wall, making it come alive!:
Aquaman manages to rope the creature and pull it down (yay Aquaman!), and then they try to lure the aliens out to sea.

The aliens fall for this, taking the machine with them. They climb into the water, and prepare to blast Aquaman and Aqualad, when:

...I love the faces of the octopi, with their furrowed brows. Classic.

The aliens are then surrounded by a wall of jellyfish, and Aquaman manages to get the machine away from them.

But one of the aliens breaks free, as is about to blast our heroes, when...you guessed it, Quisp returns to save the day! Turns out he wasn't killed, the laser beam simply teleported him(?) miles away.

The baddie aliens are imprisoned, the scientists are freed, and the aliens leave, hopefully never to return.

Quisp also takes off, promising to visit again some day. Meanwhile, the stone creature is still around, but inert, so the villagers decide to make it a tourist attraction:
...you have to be made of hearty stock to live in the DC universe. These people who live in a small, rural fishing village are only mildly inconvenienced by a horde of aliens attacking them, who turns part of the town into a living creature. They are nonplussed by all this, and even find a way to make a buck in the process.

A fun tale, totally goofy, but it moves at a breakneck pace and throws more in twenty-five pages than some whole mini-series do nowadays (he said, crankily).

I never warmed up to Quisp--he seemed way too Mxyzptlk for my tastes--but he's ok in small doses like this.

By the way, this comic was sent to me--gratis--by F.O.A.M.er Russell Burbage, who is unceasingly generous. Thanks Russell!


Richard said...

I know that after he retired to make his fortune in the cereal business, Quisp made one brief comeback as a villain...but I'd still like to see him team up with Mxyzptlk, Bat-Mite, Mopee, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. as the JL5D!

Richard said...

P.S.: I was waiting 38 years to say that. Thanks for letting me get it off my chest at last.

Anonymous said...

I never liked Quisp, which is another reason I sent this to you...! :-) I did enjoy his return under Morrison, though.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm in the minoity because I'm a Quisp fan. I even wrote up a version of the character for the old DC Heroes RPG game published by Mayfair! Oh yes, I'm THAT kind of geek!

As a teen I bought up every Aquaman back issue I could find, condition be damned. And I really dug the Quisp issues. He was a sweet child-like little guy. He was never as mean-spirited as Mxy, whose pranks were designed, at the very least, to humiliate Superman. Nope, Quisp genuinely liked Aquaman.

And he was never as incompetent as Bat-Mite whose bumbling hero worship caused Batman and Robin no end of trouble. Quisp was usually really helpful.

I guess I have a sort of false nostalgia for Quisp. The little guy represents an era in comics that I'm too young to have experienced first hand. Plus he's an example of Aquaman being treated, editorially, like any other super-hero. I guess that's a strange thing to say, "you want Aquaman to be like every other hero?" In a way, yes. But that's too involved to explain here.

Anyway, I didn't care for Morrison's revival of "Qwsp" and my Quisp write-up at

enumerates why I don't think they're the same entity. Man, I'm a geek!

Anonymous said...

What - no sequel with "Quake"?