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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Ballad of the Yellow Glove

sgIf you'll indulge me for a moment (ha! only a moment?), today's post isn't about any Aquaman comic book, or piece of merchandise, TV appearance, or reference in pop culture.

No, this is something that I have always associated with Aquaman, all through my life, an unfathomably piece of obscura that possibly only I have ever noticed.

I call this little piece of Aquaman history The Ballad of the Yellow Glove.

I call it that because it is a sad tale, one that always reminded me of Aquaman's less-than-top-rung status he sometimes had in the DC universe.

It all started on the cover to the historic Brave and the Bold #28, where the colorist mistakenly colored Aquaman's gloves yellow:

The unofficial start of the Earth-1 Aquaman was a few months earlier, over in Adventure Comics. He had been given a new origin, and it was this Aquaman who got tapped to be a founding member in the new Justice League.

Obviously, the colorist got confused, or got handed the wrong reference, for all throughout the story, Aquaman's gloves are yellow. Soon DC would correct this, but the indiscriminate yellow glove would continue to follow Aquaman throughout his career:
Sometimes, like in the panel above, it was fairly easy to miss and ignore. Although this particular mistake happened twice in the same issue:
Every time some reader would point this out, DC would always claim the colorist did it right, it was the color separators that goofed. I wonder how they felt about always been thrown under the bus?

Sometimes, it would happen at big dramatic moments, like this pin-up shot from the first JLA Annual:
...as an obsessive comic book reader, this kind of thing drove me nuts! Why do they keep getting this wrong??

You'd think, as comics printing got more streamlined and more sophisticated in the 80s, it would've happened less, but no:
One of the most egregious was when Aquaman reformed the JLA, and they redid the JLA Mail Room header to reflect the old school JLA-style headers. Except...:
Bad enough it happened here, but then no one at DC ever bothered to correct it. So there it stayed, every month, for the last two years of the book.

I know, I know; I'm making way too big a deal over this--it was just a stupid mistake where someone would drop out the blue plate over one of his gloves, so that was left was the yellow.

But I did notice...these kind of things never happened to Superman or Batman. They were always colored right. So as a kid, it always made feel like Aquaman was the underdog, always deserved a little more attention than he ever got.

And it did make me feel better to see that at times he wasn't the only one who suffered this indignity:
If any of you have examples of this that I've missed, please scan them in and email them to me! I'd love to add more verses to the ballad...


Anonymous said...

I know your pain Rob. As a Robin fan, I too had to live with the indignity of constant bad coloring. I have a Batman sleeping bag that I've had since I was 4 or so. Robin in seen in his classic Infantino running pose. But his collar is colored RED, not yellow as it should be. There it is, for all time, nearly life-size, in RED. And often times in the comics poor Robin would have blue where his green should be, or red booties instead of green. And many modern comic colorlists never cracked a comic book open from before 1988, because they can't seem to color poor Dick's original costume right in flashbacks. They almost always give him a two-toned black and yellow cape!

At least Aquaman at one time HAD yellow gloves. Maybe he just got nostalgic from time to time and put them on, like an old pair of sneakers. :-)


Anonymous said...

The funny thing for me is that Roy Thomas has openly embraced what I always thought was a coloring mistake and used it to differentiate the Earth 2 Aquaman. I believe I read somewhere that in some of his Golden Age adventures he is shown wearing yellow gloves, so instead of calling that a mistake, Roy uses it. Seems..er...fishy to me.

Scurvy said...

I always found this odd too. Especially since in many cases it's just the one hand. Perhaps it is like a "secret handshake" or an inside joke amongst the editors...or not.

Unknown said...

When Alex Ross painted the scene, he retained the yellow gloves: http://www.alexrossart.com/galleries/liberty/full/16-17.jpg

A similar error I find funny is Thor sometimes colored as not wearing pants.

Anonymous said...

It's too, too funny! That the yellow gloves had always bothered me, as well. However, I kind of like the fact that Roy Thomas used the blunder to differentiate between the Aquaman of Earth-2 and the one from Earth-1.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed it happen to the Flash off and on as well... He gets yellow gloves now and then. I actually think it makes a cool design, but the same mistake nontheless...

Anonymous said...

Best post ever!

-Robby Reed

The Irredeemable Shag said...

Once again Rob, I'm glad there Aquaman fans out there as obsessive as me! Your blog makes me feel like I BELONG here! :)

The Irredeemable Shag

Doc Savage said...

False assumption: Aquaman only has one set of gloves. Why can't he switch back and forth whenever he wants? I prefer yellow-gloved Aquanan, personally.