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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Aquaman (Vol. 1) #46 - Aug. 1969

sgComics Weekend A (nearly) solo Mera adventure in this issue of Aquaman!

Yesterday, we talked about Aquaman #36, which was in the last year of writer Bob Haney and artist Nick Cardy's long run on the book.

With Aquaman #40, new editor Dick Giordano had taken over, and brought with him two of his people from his Charlton days--Steve Skeates and Jim Aparo. They hit the ground running (swimming?), treating (in my opinion) the Sea King to some of the best stories he's ever been a part of.

This issue's story is titled "The Explanation":
We open in the back of an ambulance, and we see inside is Aquaman and Mera. Aquaman is dazed and barely conscious, and asks Mera how they got here.

We then flashback to Aquaman, Mera, Aqualad, and Arthur Jr. caught in the middle of an undersea whirlpool. The force of it is so strong it separates Mera from the rest of them, and she is then grabbed two men aiming to kidnap her!

One of them punches out Aquaman when he sees what's going on, and we get to see where Mera is going:
Mera is taken from the sub and thrown into a prison cell. Editor Giordano steps in(!) to explain that, "through the power of our imaginations", we now get to see who these bad guys are and what they're planning.

Turns out this is a group of crooks who want to use Mera's hard water powers to help them become modern day pirates. Mera refuses, but they tell her that if she doesn't help them, Aquaman dies!

Thinking that, if she doesn't help them, they will keep Aquaman away from water for over an hour, she agrees. They keep Mera for days, and then suddenly an entire wall of her cell slides down, allowing Mera to...escape?

(Giordano steps in again to remind us that it was last issue that we saw how Aquaman was inadvertently responsible for Mera's escape)

She heads for the light at the end of a tunnel, but two goons are there to stop her. But Mera knows how to kick some surface dweller butt:
Mera heads out, but then realizes Aquaman is still in the clutches of the pirates (or so she thinks). Then an explosion (which also happened last issue) blasts an unconscious Aquaman out into the sea. At the same time, the pirates' artificial whirlpool machine has kicked on, keeping Mera from grasping her husband with her hard-water powers.

Then, the giant underwater fortress of the pirates' explodes, nearly killing them both. Mera then manages to grab her husband, and drags him onto the beach.

Meanwhile, back in Atlantis, its new ruler, Narkran, is quickly turning into a tyrant. He talks of revenge with the surface world with Vulko, who is disturbed at what he hears.

Aquagirl overhears a clandestine meeting between some sneaky-looking conspirators, and is grabbed right off the street. Luckily, like Mera, Aquagirl don't take no guff:
...sisters are doin' it for themselves!

Back on land, Aquaman has recovered, and he and Mera leave the hospital. They compare notes over their respective adventures, since they haven't seen each other in weeks.

After some gentle kidding by Mera, they decided to head back to Atlantis
...I absolutely love that top panel--the movement, the angle, its so dynamic. Jim Aparo, The Man.

A really innovative issue, telling the "flip-side" of the story that took place last issue. Aparo here is inked by Frank Giacoia, giving the art a slightly different look (check out the odd credit on the splash page, where it says the story was "Inked by an inker.") It looks just fine, since Aparo's superb layouts are still all here.

Interesting note: nothing like what's depicted on the cover happens in this issue. And the bad guys are crooks in three-piece suits...I don't know what's up with the viking-looking guy in the foreground.


Wings1295 said...

Okay, Mera's face on that title page is hilarious! And as for the Viking on the cover, maybe it was a pre-made cover for a story that never was? No clue, but my curiosity is piqued!

rob! said...

Aquaman during this time was famous for superb Nick Cardy covers that bared no relation to the inside contents. This is a mild example of that trend.

btw, wings, awesome avatar!

Anonymous said...

An interesting story. I always liked the idea of Mera getting a more active role in Aquaman's stories. She is entirely capable of being a hero, so the Aqua-team should be a foursome in large part. It's also great to see Tula kicking some butt. In those two panels she accomplishes just about as much 'daring do' as Lorena in the entirety of the second to latest Aquaman run. I've got a question for you though, Rob, does Mera have super strength? She's extra-dimensional, so not necessarily the same as Atlantians, who are somewhat stronger than regular humans.