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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Adventure Comics #280 - Jan. 1961

Comics Weekend Another Silver Age adventure with Aquaman and Aqualad!

As I mentioned yesterday, I was fortunate enough to pick up two vintage issues of Adventure Comics that feature Aquaman, a chunk of the character's history that I haven't given enough attention to here on the Shrine.

Once again, this issue's tale is written by Robert Bernstein and drawn by the incomparable Ramona Fradon, and is titled "The Lost Ocean!":

Aquaman puts the antenna up, and he and Aqualad are invited to stay for dinner and watch the show by the lighthouse keeper.

As they watch the show, the lighthouse keeper is really impressed with the show's stars, Jim and Ted Flood, and says they seem just as much a King of the Sea as Aquaman is! Aquaman demurs.

As they leave, we learn that the Aquatic Duo is on their way to the set of Sea Chase, to act as marine experts on the show. But when they arrive, they are told by the show's producer that the two stars dived too deeply and got the bends, putting them in the hospital. The show is shut down until they recover.

Aquaman and Aqualad are introduced to the show's creatures, made by the special effects department (ala Bruce the Shark in Jaws).

But when dealing with a fabricated prehistoric whale, something goes wrong and the creature becomes a real threat!:
Like yesterday's school principal, I love Ramona Fradon's renderings of the ancillary characters--in this case the prototypical Hollywood producer--beret, shades, cigar, and all.

Aquaman manages to stop the creature using some electric eels, which keeps the shot from being ruined! He pulls a similar trick in another scene when he and Aqualad rescue an egg laid by an underwater sea creature from hatching too soon, so now the show has this exciting footage to use, as well, including shots of the real creature itself:
Later, the show's special effects guys retouch the footage so Aquaman and Aqualad look like the Flood Brothers (how exactly they did that with 1960-era special effects technology, I know not), and they watch that week's episode with the Lightouse Keeper, who never knows the difference.

This angle has been briefly covered before in superhero stories--someone with super powers pinch-hitting for movie stunt men--and I would have loved to have seen that story thread pursued more, whether in Aquaman or with someone else. There was probably a lot of story potential there.

This issue's letters page features a letter from a young woman named Ann Winquist, whose favorite feature in Adventure Comics is not, like you'd expect, Superboy:
...a girl after my own heart.

I have a really romantic image in my head from this letter--imagine being a young kid, living in the sunny Panama Canal Zone, reading Aquaman comics. Sounds like an amazing way to grow up.

Ms. Winquist, if you're out there, please drop the Shrine a line!

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