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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hawkman (Vol.3) #15 - Dec. 1994

sgComics Weekend Aquaman teams-up with the Winged Wonder, Hawkman!

I thought since we had Aquaman guesting in The Flash yesterday, we'd continue with that theme today and talk about issue #15 of the third series of Hawkman, where the Sea King made another guest appearance.

I admit this right up front--once Tony Isabella's mid-80s Hawkman series ended, I sort of fell out of the habit of following the character, and once the whole Hawkworld thing started I had no idea who Hawkman was at any given point, and eventually I just totally gave up.

Which is too bad, since I always liked the Hawks, and enjoyed reading their solo stories. I liked the dynamic between Carter and Shayera (who contributed to my things for redheads, so thanks for that, Mrs. Hall) and the sci-fi elements inherent in the strip were fun.

So I have no idea who the Hawkman in this comic is...is it Carter Hall? Aquaman seems to know him (as we'll see in a moment), but he doesn't look, dress, or act like the Hawkman I know (can you help me out here, Luke?)

With that said, let's get into this issue and see what we make of it.

First off, it opens really, really, really grimly--with some guy who has a small boy chained up in some sort of dungeon. He has some sort of superpower, since his hand starts to glow, and--off-panel, thankfully--seems to reach into the crying kid's chest and pull out his heart! Holy crap, what the hell's going on here?

The guy sees that someone is swimming towards where he is--we can make out from the shape its Aquaman--and he leaves to greet him.

Meanwhile, in some sewer pipe is Hawkman:

Hawkman escapes a bunch of automated death traps and follows the pipe all the way out into the Pacific Ocean. In the distance, he sees a small island, and figures that's where his prey is.

He gets attacked by a bunch of mechanical, electrified flying fish, but his handy mace (always Hawkman's coolest weapon, IMO) takes care of them. He's then grabbed by a giant mechanical sea-lobster, which was always the weapon of choice of Aquaman's old foe, The Scavenger.

He manages to smash it, too, and heads back for the island. Waiting for him there
Hawkman tells Aquaman his friend Mort, formerly the Scavenger and now reformed, is a criminal. Aquaman insists he has indeed reformed, but Hawkman isn't interested in talking.

He flies off, but Aquaman grabs him, and they plunge into the ocean. Aquaman begins forcing Hawkman to the bottom, but he tosses a grenade which sends them both onto the beach:
...the entire beach is Aquaman's weapon!

Hawkman manages to pin Aquaman long enough to tell him what he knows, courtesy of Oracle. Turns out an online pedophile ring is in operation, and Oracle discovered the name of one of the participants, who goes by the name "Barracuda.":

Via some investigating, Oracle learns that this Barracuda, who has been kidnapping kids, doing unspeakable things to them and then selling the tapes to others, is, in reality, the man who was formerly The Scavenger, a guy named Mort.

Later, Hawkman and Aquaman walk into Mort's chamber of horrors, and he doesn't even bother to deny what he's done. He reveals that, like how Hawkman is infused with the spirit of hawk, he is infused by the animal spirit of a barracuda, which gives him these extraordinary powers.

Aquaman, enraged, pins Mort to a wall with his harpoon, but Mort uses some sort of mental telepathy to knock Aquaman off his feet onto the ground. He then tries it on Hawkman, but:
Hawkman finds a cache of video tapes in Mort's home, and smashes and burns them to a crisp.

He then picks up Aquaman and they head out:
...the end.

Okay...I'm not sure how I feel about this story. I think, had I known that this was what it was about, I would not have decided to profile it at all. I had never read the issue before, so when I saw that Aquaman guest-starred in an issue of Hawkman, I picked it up on eBay.

But I have many misgivings about this story. First off, it takes a character that Aquaman (Vol.3) writer Shaun McLaughlin used in a sweet, upbeat way (in the final issue of the series) and completely upends it, turning from a reformed criminal looking for a new lease on life into a pedophile. Yikes. Probably a good thing destiny didn't lead me toward writing comic books, I don't know how I'd feel if someone took a character I made an effort to humanize and turned him into the worst kind of unspeakable monster.

Second, and this is just my feeling on this--I simply don't think any world that features a man that can shrink to sub-atomic size, a man that gets super powers when he gets possessed by a magical helmet, or a detective chimp should be a universe that also has pedophilia. Or rape, or incest, or any number of the myriad horrors that is part of what we call civilization.

I applaud writer William Messner-Loebs for trying to tackle an important real-life problem, but I feel like its never appropriate to mix these two worlds. The DCU ain't the real world, it never will be. (I felt the same way when I read Identity Crisis) And to me, the two don't mix well. The first page especially is so gruesome and horrifying that having electronic killer flying fish in the same book...

Plus, Aquaman is really kinda useless here. He's wrong about Mort, and even though he has amazing powers of mental telepathy, doesn't sense something amiss even though there's a dead boy in the next room. All he does is slow Hawkman down, then when he does come around, Mort takes him out and Hawkman gets to do all the fun revenge stuff (and destroy evidence, thanks for that, pal).

Although while I think the art in this issue (by Steve Lieber and Curt Schoultz) is very strong, overall
I didn't think this was one of Aquaman's finer moments. The whole thing left me feeling kinda uneasy.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Crisis On Earth-Blog: Flash Vol.2 #66 - 1992

Welcome to another blog team-up!

Today The Aquaman Shrine and super-cool Flash blog Crimson Lightning will be talking about the same comic, Aquaman's guest-appearance in Flash (Vol.2) #66:
The cover, by Mike Collins and Jose Marzan, is fun, and of course recalls all the classic Superman/Flash races from years gone past.

Inside is "Fish Story" (not the first time that title's been used when Aquaman guest-stars) by Mark Waid, Collins, and Roy Richardson. The issue opens with a classic "How did we get here?" splash page:

We then, ahem, flashback to Wally West and his then-just-friend Linda on a cruise ship together.

After Wally inadvertently embarrasses Linda with his super-speed tennis playing, he notices a pod of whales surrounding the ship. Then the whales started bumping the ship, nudging towards an island in the distance.

The ship crashes onto the island's coral reef, and Wally bangs his head in a fall. As he groggily looks up, he sees something unexpected:

Soon, Wally wakes up, hanging upside down along with some other passengers, over some hungry sharks! Meanwhile, other passengers were hard at work, carrying debris out of a small cave, under the command of...The Marine Marauder!

Wally quickly escapes his bonds, but as he gets close to MM, she reminds Wally that if he attacks her, she will command those sharks to chomp down on the other passengers.

Wally suggests to Linda that Aquaman might be able to help, but the Marine Marauder says he is under her command, too--turns out she has been searching for a lost treasure buried in the cavern's grotto, a magical crown supposedly worn by the Storm God Enlil. She started looking for it herself, and when Aquaman showed up to stop her:

She demands that Flash help in the search effort, and in return, she'll free the hostages. Wally suits up, and goes to look it. He makes his way underwater, and meets up with Aquaman and a school of swordfish, like we saw at the beginning of the story.

They find their way to a giant stone door, which Aquaman (with the help of a finny friend) pries open. It leads to a massive, ornate chamber, with a chest sitting in its center. Flash grabs it, and the still-zombie-ish Aquaman, and heads back to the surface:

Aquaman, now wearing the crown, is now possessed by Enlil, who informs the Marine Marauder that she never controlled Aquaman--it was he who sent out a mental call, with forced Aquaman to help her uncover the crown.

Enlil, via Aquaman, starts to create giant tidal waves that loom over the island. Flash tells MM to get everyone inside the cave while he tries to knock out the possessed Sea King:

After being knocked around a bit, he finds himself dumped on the other side of the island. The sound of the rain and the wind is so loud that Wally can't hear anything else, but then neither can Enlil, and he super-speeds behind him, knocking him over, which makes the crown fall off.

Aquaman starts to wake up, while the Marine Marauder takes it upon herself to grab the crown. Flash grabs Aquaman and takes him into the cave, barricading the entrance with rocks, while the Marine Marauder revels in her newfound power.

Except she can't control it, and a giant wave crashes over her, and almost the entire island!

The next day:

Definitely a fun story (I expect no less from Mark Waid), and in its self-containedness(?), it reminded me a bit of the kind of story you would've seen in a 1960s issue of Brave and the Bold.

Sure, Aquaman's is mostly a zombie though most of it, but what they hey. Nice to see a story that centers around him as much as it does.

I had been wanting to do a cross-over with Dixon's Crimson Lightning blog for a while, and now that he's back from being one with the Speed Force, I figured this was the perfect comic to do it with. I hope all of you check out what Dix has to say about this book, and I hope Dix's readers do the same!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Brave and The Bold Promo Card - 2008

This is one of a series of "promo cards" for the CN's Brave and the Bold series. I'm not sure if these were actually printed out and distributed or just were web-only.

Tonight is the debut of the third episode, guest-starring our hero Aquaman! Can't wait to see it!

Re: that Aquaman logo--while I'm generally against using anything but the classic one (since you're pretty much not going to do better), I don't think this one is too bad. Maybe if they ditched the sort of metallic coloring...

Update: In the comments, Vince Bartilucci points out that it seems that the Aquaman episode of B&B has been rescheduled, presumably to next Friday. Rats!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Aqua-Thanksgiving 2008

Bloated Post-Thanksgiving Update: This awesome collection of Thanksgiving-related Aquaman art comes from the family of F.O.A.M. member Mac Schafer.

From the top: the AquaPilgrim and the AquaTurkey are by Tory (age 6), AquaBoy Pilgrim is by Skye (age 4), AquaTurkey 2 is by Hannah (age 8), and finally the AquaIndian is by Hunter (age 9).

Mac generously sent these along to me Thanksgiving morning, saying "
My kids do lots of art with aquaman in it. They wanted me to send the drawings to you!" (I personally love how Hannah's AquaTurkey is communicating with his finny friends)

What a wonderful set of drawings, and it does my heart good to see a whole family engaging in some Aqua-Fun.

Thanks Mac and Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving 2008

Aquaman and The Aquaman Shrine wish everyone (well, everyone in America, I guess) a Happy Thanksgiving!

And in keeping with the spirit of the holiday, here's a short list of some things I am very, very grateful for:

Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris, circa Summer 1941
Theme Time Radio Hour with Bob Dylan

The Office/30 Rock
DVD Audio Commentaries
Midnight M*A*S*H Reruns on TV Land
Morningstar Veggie Foods
The Films of Val Lewton
The Razor's Edge--the book and the films
My weekly gig at Time Out New York
Back Issue! magazine
TV Writers Who Have Blogs
The 50-State Strategy
Treasury-Sized Comics
Wii Fit

Darlin' Trace, Johnny, and Berry
Everyone Who Visits Any of My Blogs

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

JLA Gallery Pin-Up by Chris Weston - 1997

This spiffy pin-up is by artist Chris Weston from the 1997 JLA Gallery comic.

There was a surprising number of Aquaman-centric pin-ups in that book, underscoring my belief that Aquaman's ability to sell a comic book is disproportionate to the size of his actual fan-base both in and out of the comics industry.

That's a really cool, if a tad creepy, throne Arthur is rocking there.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Breaking News

sgNewest F.O.A.M. member Jeff Baab emailed me to point out this interview with DC head honcho Dan Didio that ran in yesterday's edition of The Los Angeles Times.

The piece centers mostly on Aquaman(!), and there are a bunch of interesting nuggets of info in there, plus one comment that made me want to slam my head against a wall. See if you can figure out what it was!

In any case, interesting stuff for all us Aqua-Fans. Thanks Jeff!

Surf and Turf #8

sgBehold the cover to the newest issue of Aquaman's team-up title, Surf and Turf!

I started these on a lark, based on an offhand joke I made a while back, and it turned into an informal "series", where I gamed out a plot involving Aquaman and the other founding members of the Justice League, as they travel back through various eras of DC's publishing history in an effort to stop some crazy scheme by The Lord of Time.

The seven-part storyline would conclude with Aquaman rejoining the JLA, and after I had completed that issue's cover, I figured I was done with it.

But for whatever reason, the other day I had an idea for an eighth issue, the first one not tied to the original storyline, so here you go--Aquaman and Green Arrow vs. The Catman in "The Calamitous Catman Caper!"

I didn't have much plot imagined for this one, other than repeated jokes by Green Arrow about how lame Catman is. And Aquaman having to spend more time hanging with Ollie than he would normally want to.

I came up with some crazy rule that I would have to find stock pieces of both heroes drawn by the same artist, which really limits how imaginative I can get with these. But I did manage to find two suitable poses of Arthur and Ollie by the great Dick Giordano, an artist not previously represented on the earlier Surf and Turfs
...my dream mash-up issue of Surf and Turf would be Aquaman teamed-up with Brother Power, The Geek, but where am I gonna find Aquaman drawn by Joe Simon??

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dabs Superhero Watch - 1977

This is the outer box for a Batman "Superhero" Watch, made by the Dabs company in 1977.

As you can see, the box features stock art shots of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Joker. But open the plastic case holding the watch inside, and:
Holy Moley--I mean, Great Neptune!--what are Aquaman and Captain Marvel doing in there? Despite the Dabs company not offering Aquaman or Captain Marvel style watches, there they are on the inside of the package. Curious, no?

When I saw that Aquaman and the Big Red Cheese were pictured, it gave me hope that maybe, just maybe, there was an Aquaman Dabs Watch out there, but if you take a look at the ad they ran in various comics at the time:
...we can say for sure they weren't produced. Maybe Dabs couldn't put Spider-Man on the packages, so they had some space to fill. Like I said, curious.

I could be wrong, but this might be one of the last times you saw the DC and Marvel heroes intermingling on merchandise. Mego got there early, but as the 70s wore on, you saw it less and less.

The watch I bought (Batman style) does come with a 90-day warranty, but I think we're past that by, oh, 31 years or so.

(I scanned this ad off the back of Aquaman #60--oh, the bitter irony)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Super Friends #32 - May 1980

sgComics Weekend Aquaman and the rest of the Super Friends vs. that master of fear, The Scarecrow!

Dipping into an old issue of Super Friends is like visiting an old friend. I read every issue of the title during its original run, but generally never looked at them for many years afterward.

Now when I dig one of them out again to talk about here, I warmly remember moments from each specific issue, and I recall just how large the "Super Friends" concept loomed in my heads as a kid. (I never missed an episode of the TV show, either--no matter what they called it)

As promised, this issue features the Friends duking it out with The Scarecrow, in a story by E. Nelson Bridwell, Kurt Schaffenberger, and Bob Smith--"The Scarecrow Fights With Fear!"

After the awards ceremony, a creepy looking, super-skinny(!) photographer asks if he can take a picture of the heroes inside the Hall of Justice.

The Super Friends, being trusting folk, agree. The photog uses an old camera, one with a flash bulb. When it goes off, though, suddenly all the Friends' plaques start to melt!

The smoke from the flash bulb dissipates, and of course the mysterious papparazi is revealed to be
...all of a sudden, all the Super Friends are gripped in irrational fears. Wonder Woman becomes afraid of metals, Robin develops a fear of bats, and poor, poor Aquaman:
With Batman afraid of the dark and Superman now afraid of heights, The Scarecrow easily gets away into a nearby helicopter, piloted by his henchmen.

Back at the Hall of Justice, the Super Friends regroup. Even the Wonder Twins are affected--they're afraid to touch one another! But that's just the one of their problems:
The Scarecrow, meanwhile, begins planning his crime wave, beginning with a robbery of...millionaire Bruce Wayne!

The Super Friends get word of the robbery from Commissioner Gordon, and our heroes have to jerry-rig a way to get there, given their current disabilities--Aquaman drives the Batmobile, while Superman and Wonder Woman run alongside it.

They arrive at the Wayne Foundation building, and Superman asks Aquaman if he can make it, since he looks pretty shaky. Aquaman says yes, and Wonder Woman grabs him and takes off:
Wonder Woman heads inside. Without her bracelets, she becomes "like an Old Norse berserker, completely irrational in battle!"

Scarecrow is confused, because he was sure shooting bullets at the Amazing Amazon would stop her. But not quite:
The Scarecrow agrees, thinking that an enraged Wonder Woman is about to splatter him onto the ground below (doesn't he know this is a Super Friends story?). He drops an antidote pellet on the ground, giving him time to escape.

He makes his way to his copter, but Robin The Boy Wonder is there waiting for him:
...maybe its me, but I find that fourth panel ghoulishly funny--"Oh, look--the Scarecrow is drowning Robin!"

As the Scarecrow and Batman fight, Robin tries to get over his fear to help his friend. He dives at the Scarecrow, and he goes flying off the roof's ledge!

Superman, down below, sees The Scarecrow falling. He, too, overcomes his fear and takes flight, catching The Scarecrow in the process.

Back at the Hall of Justice, everyone is cured, except for The Wonder Twins, who are still afraid to touch, thereby stripping them of their powers. But Gleek grabs them both, and:
...I'd say The Wonder Twins owe Aquaman a nice dinner!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Aquaman (Vol.1) #55 - Feb. 1971

sgComics Weekend Aquaman travels to a sub-atomic world!

Aquaman as a title had an extraordinary run of covers, all by Nick Cardy, featuring the Sea King in situations that you just knew he was not going to be able to get out of, and this issue is no exception. Here's my fifteen cents, Mr. News-Vendor Sir!

This issue opens with Aquaman and Mera talking to Vulko, who are in the middle of some sort of plan involving a huge computer.

Aquaman stands on a platform, over a small ruby ring. Both he and Mera are told to concentrate, and "think about only one thing."

Aquaman gives the signal, Vulko flips a switch, and Aquaman starts to transform, getting smaller and smaller, until
(I normally don't post two full pages of a comic in a row, but I wanted to get that fun panel of the JLA in here--you never got to see Jim Aparo draw the whole team, so this is a treat)

Just having arrived back in this sub-atomic world, Aquaman runs into some trouble--yucky, icky trouble:
Aquaman manages to avoid the creature's grasp, and then he gets a sort of mental transmission from Mera, instructing him where to go.

He finds his way to a colony of futuristic-looking buildings, and when he gets close, he is attacked by a group of tiny beings baring weapons. He manages to punch his way through some of them, but is outnumbered and knocked out.

Meanwhile, back in Atlantis, Aqualad is watching a small gathering of his fellow citizens, who are listening to a would-be political leader give an angry speech blaming Aquaman and Vulko for their troubles. Aqualad is concerned, and leaves to tell Aquaman.

Back in the alternate dimension, the beings who attacked Aquaman are carrying him somewhere. He wakes up, but plays possum until the right moment when some of them have wandered off, and then he fights back, breaking free:
Aquaman, now that he has found the woman he came to rescue, is shocked to learn that she doesn't want to leave. Even though she is being forced to work for these beings, she has decided to stay where she is.

She gives Aquaman the bum's rush and tells him to go, warning him that these same beings will be arriving soon. And she's right:
...I love how different Aparo makes each panel, that second one being an especially cool example. Nice use of zip-a-tone.

Aquaman tries to fight them off, having no real reason for the conflict, when Mera draws him back to their dimension, many hours ahead of schedule.

But Aquaman is okay with that, since, as he tells them, his whole mission was for naught anyway. Aqualad shows up and tells him what's been going on in the meantime:
I love that half-page ad for the next issue! Very fun!

You'd think that's the end of the issue, but, oddly enough, there's another whole story, titled "Computer Trap!" that follows:
Aquaman learns, via the computer's mind probe, that it was built many centuries ago by a civilization to help develop the society.

But it did too good a job, and eventually the computer learned how to control the citizens' minds, and put them to work. It controlled everyone except the young people, who grew tired of living under a machine's rule, and took off to find a better way of living.

With the remains citizens aging and no new people to take their place, eventually the city went dead:
...Great Neptune, do I love Aparo's design for the computer.

The computer is now reaching out to people outside of the colony, in an effort to repopulate. Aquaman is helpless to move due to its mind control, but he strains and communicates with a passing electric eel, which enters the cave and short-circuits the computer's hold on the Sea King.

Now free, Aquaman calls in more finny friends:
Aquaman makes a mental note to tell everyone in Atlantis to steel clear of this area, and specifically Atlantis' scientists, since "There's a lesson to be learned here somewhere!"

But for right now, Aquaman is merely relieved...

What an odd little story! More of a think piece with Aquaman dragged into it, but still fun to read nonetheless. Man, the ocean is full of dangerous stuff...

This penultimate issue of Aquaman features two pages of letters, ending with editor Dick Giordano telling us to look for an Aquaman Annual, "scheduled for release in 1971."


Friday, November 21, 2008

Aquaman Clay Figure - 2008

This cute little Aquaman rendered in clay was sent to me by F.O.A.M. member Andy Luckett, who says:

"This was made by my girlfriend, who I've made into a new Aqua-fan. Its a clay figure she made in her job at an after school program, in between chasing the kids around."

Very fun, I love any type of homemade Aqua-Item--how better to spread the awesomeness that is Aquaman?

Thanks Andy (and girlfriend)!

sgBy the way, a few months ago, Andy sent me an original story he wrote, unofficially called "JLA Gifts", which is about the members of the Justice League exchanging gifts in an annual get-together.

Written in the style of a JLA Case File, it's a very sweet and clever story, and Aquaman plays a large role, and you can click here to download a .pdf of the story.