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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Aquaman (Vol.6) #63 - January 2000

Comics Weekend A new era for Aquaman!

As regular readers of the Shrine have no doubt noticed, the Aquaman comics I have spent the most time on have been the ones from the 70s and 80s--that's natural, I guess, since it was those Aquaman stories that I first discovered growing up, and the ones that cemented my obsession with the character.

But of course, Aquaman has been swimming through various DC comics for seven decades(!) now, and there are lots of other comics to talk about. So after spending a few weeks with his early-60s Adventure Comics run, I thought we'd jump way ahead in time, and talk about an underrated and sadly brief (aren't they all?) run, taking place in the last year of Aquaman's sixth solo series, his (to date) longest lasting solo title.

With this issue, #63, a new creatively team came on, consisting of writer Dan Jurgens and artists Steve Epting and Norm Rapmund. Behind a beautiful, stately cover by Michael Wm. Kaluta, is an unexpected opening to an Aquaman comic: the not-too-distant future:

"Years from now"? A young a woman named Donna? And who is this mysterious person telling the story of "The Third Age of Atlantis"? Let's see...

After the handsome splash page featuring Aquaman in happier times, we are brought back to the present, where we find Mera and Vulko on the way to something important. Mera tells Vulko Garth--formerly Aqualad, now Tempest--is needed. But where is he?

He's above the surface, with Aquaman, as Arthur prepares to deliver an address to the Surface World. But since the network news programs won't give citizens of Atlantis the time of day (damn Fox News!), Aquaman is forced to come on to a late night and talk show:
While delivering his speech (about how the island nation of Cerdia has waged economic war on Atlantis, by claiming the rights to waters that are "rightfully Atlantis'", among other offenses), the host of the show has, as a gag, some fish brought out to see if Aquaman can really talk to them.

Of course, he can, and they tell him something important--that there's a bomb buried under the floor of the studio!

Aquaman smashes a hole in the floor, finds the bomb, and has Tempest use his magical power to disarm it. Arthur claims this was an assassination attempt on his life.

Meanwhile, we see what emergency Mera and Vulko were attending to: the birth of Garth's child, by his wife Dolphin! As the baby is delivered, the city of Atlantis comes under attack!

Aquaman and Tempest are told of the attack, and they rush home. As they approach in their Atlantean craft, they find their communications are jammed. So they take a more direct approach:
Arthur and Garth get close enough to see that Atlantis is being attacked by billions of tiny bits of coral, all collected together--in a seemingly sentient manner--and wreaking massive destruction!

Aquaman takes on the coral directly, allowing Tempest the time to find Dolphin:
We see that Dolphin has given birth to a healthy son!

Meanwhile, Queen Charlanda, the ruler of Cerdia, is giving a press conference claiming that the bomb that has gone off in a government building was an assassination attempt by Atlantis.

But soon we learn that there's more to this, and that they have hired someone who has managed to assemble the coral and have it attack Atlantis. Charlanda orders that she wants "Every Atlantean exterminated by the end of the day!"

And it seems they are able to carry this out, as we see Aquaman helplessly watch as Atlantis' main power core explodes:
The man telling the story is...Tempest? Grandpa? What the heck's going on here? Obviously, to be continued!

A fine start to Jurgens and Epting's run on the book, with lots of action and Aquaman being tough and serious but not a jerk. The "Future Tempest" angle is interesting, and Epting and Rapmund's art is solid superhero storytelling.

We'll be covering this year-long run for the next several Comics Weekend installments, so be here next weekend to see where the story goes next!


Dixon said...

Underrated is right! I absolutely loved Jurgens and Epting's run on the book and this story in particular. The plotting, characterization, and artwork were just fantastic, and consistently so. Everything came together to make for one great comic series. And let's not forget Kaluta's astounding covers! These are some of my favorite Aquaman comics.

(On a completely unrelated note, my randomly generated, distorted blogger Word Verification clue, to be retyped for the posting of this comment, is the word "comic." Can you believe that?!)

Saranga said...

I love the Cerdian story arc! And yes, the covers are astounding.

Continually Spicy said...

This is still one of my favorite story arcs. I always try to find sets for customers, but it's not something that pops into the store often. Really wish it was reprinted at some point =/

DC pretty much ignored the fact that Atlantis had annexed a whole country after this story, didn't they?