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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Showcase #30 - Feb. 1961

Comics Weekend "The Creatures From Atlantis" by Jack Miller and Ramona Fradon.

After twenty years(!) of never having his own feature, Aquaman finally got tapped by DC to be a headliner, in the tryout title Showcase. In this first
of four issues, we'll learn quite a bit about the King of the Seven Seas:
The story opens with Aquaman and Aqualad rescuing a cargo ship that has caught fire. After returning to the Aqua Cave, a lantern fish arrives with a message...from Atlantis!

This gets Aquaman to recall his childhood, and it's here where we get to see Aquaman's new origin--lighthouse keeper Tom Curry rescues a mysterious woman named Atlanna(hmm....) who he found floating on a raft in the middle of a hurricane. They soon fell in love and produced a son(off-panel) named Arthur, who immediately displays amazing powers!

Later, his mother dies, revealing her son's true heritage, and explaining his amazing abilities:
As Aquaman arrives at Atlantis, he is attacked and captured by a pair of mysterious, lizard-like creatures who have taken over Atlantis with plans to attack the Surface World!

He is then imprisoned by the aliens:
He is then to put to work as a part of a prison gang, assisting other inmates in building a giant machine, whose purpose is unknown.

Aquaman tries to get his finny friends to help free them all, but the aliens fight them off with giant blowguns (they even work on giant whales...those must be really powerful blowguns!)

Aquaman gets another idea, and hides in one of the giant metal tubes that are stacked nearby. While hiding, he overhears the aliens' dastardly plan: the machine is some sort of giant melting ray, which they plan to use on the Surface World to become rulers of Earth!

Aquaman is then discovered by the aliens, and put in a cage far from everyone else. But he manages to send another telepathic signal to a nearby guppy, who leaves and returns with Aqualad in tow!

Aquaman is now free, but he learns that the aliens have taken their weapon and gone!
Aquaman makes a frontal assault on two of the aliens standing on the deck of the ship, and both of them jump into the water, preparing to fire on him.

At the last moment, they are grabbed by Aquaman's faithful octopus pal, Topo, but there are still all the aliens inside the ship.

The aliens' melting ray destroys all the various missiles and bombs Aquaman has his finny friends throw at them, so he tries another approach: getting a flock of sea gulls to drop bombs right down the hatch of the ship, blowing it up!

Aquaman, with the help of some electric eels, rounds up all the remaining aliens, and grabs one of their weapons, which returns them to the dimension from which they came.

Having saved Atlantis, Aquaman is treated as a hero:
...the end!

If I had been a kid in 1961, buying this comic off the newsstands, I would've written a letter begging DC to give Aquaman his own book.

Jack Miller's story moves along at a brisk clip, and even though this is Aquaman's first book-length story, it doesn't drag or feel padded.

And of course, what to say about the art? Ramona Fradon was at the top of her game her, giving delivering that beautifully clean, distinctive look for Aquaman that would made his feature in Adventure Comics one of the best looking strips in DC's stable.

Of couese, Fradon would not be doing the art for Aquaman's next issue of Showcase, but her replacement was no slouch either. Be here tomorrow to see Aquaman--as drawn by Nick Cardy--fight "The Sea Beasts from One Billion B.C.!"


Unknown said...

Great review as always, Rob, but I think there is one question we all want to know...

Who is Russell Burbage? ;-)

rob! said...

Who is Russell Burbage? ;-)

You need to hang out at the Shrine more, Glenn!

Anonymous said...

I used to ask myself that question all the time. :-)

Anonymous said...

Not a bad story. This is one I've actually read, and although the premise is definitely better than the execution, it is still a fun adventure. I love this origin, and I think it is the one that brings the most to the character. A man literally of two worlds, in a way Namor never was and never will be.

Wings1295 said...

An internet search told me this cover was done, at least in part, by Sheldon Moldoff, who passed away on Leap Day, 2/29/2012.

Was that his only Aquaman art?