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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Showcase #31 - April 1961

Comics Weekend "The Sea Beasts from One Billion B.C." by Jack Miller and Nick Cardy.

Ramona Fradon has been replaced on Aquaman's Showcase run by Nick Cardy, who as we'll see acquits him
self quite well:
The beasts in question are the result from your typical well-meaning but horrendously naive scientist, who has built an "Evolution Ray."

Even though the title star is Aquaman, this story is more from Aqualad's point of view--we get to read what young Garth is thinking, while Aquaman's plans to combat the now-giant sea creatures are as unknown to us as they are to Aqualad.

The scientist in question--a Professor Richards (brother of Reed)--has had his Evolution Ray stolen by his assistant, John Cook, at gun point, who plans to test the ray himself, and then sell it to the highest bidder.

Aquaman and Aqualad have to fight off scores of bizarre sea creatures, including some of Aquaman's own finny friends:
Before we get to Chapter 2, this issue takes time out for a one-page "Soapy The Skin Diver" strip, an ad for Rip Hunter Time Master, and a PSA titled "Don't Sell Nature Short." Man, comics use to be so awesome...

Okay, let's get back to the story:
Aquaman and Aqualad manage to escape their finny friends, leaving them in a cloud of sea dust, and without harming them.

On the surface, Cook is blasting everything in sight with the Evolution Ray, and then turning the creatures on a nearby cargo vessel.

Aquaman manages to help the ship's crew escape (with the help of some whales and giant turtles), and Aqualad returns with good news--Professor Richards has perfected a controller that reverses the Evolution Ray's effects!

Aquaman and Aqualad find Cook, in the middle of stealing the ship's cargo, and when he blasts nearby fish with the Evolution Ray, Aquaman blasts them right back with the reverse controller--but it jams(!), turning the fish into "future fish"! Great Neptune, now we've got this to worry about!
The future fish all head for the surface, and, since they can now breath air as well, make their way towards an island.

Some of the other fish start attacking nearby boats, and that keeps our heroes busy, just rescuing the passengers and saving them from drowning.

On the mainland, the fish are causing havoc! But Aquaman gets an idea:
...its panels like the one above that remind just how good Nick Cardy's work on Aquaman was--there's something about this panel, its so perfectly composed that it could be taken off the page and presented as Fine Art, Roy Lichtenstein-style.

Anyway, The gulls lift Aquaman into the air, and he uses himself as bait for the future fish. He lures them all out to sea.

A Navy ship prepares to fire on the fish, but Aquaman creates a huge wave, ruining their aim. Why is he doing this?

The fish get closer to the ship, and they and Aqualad can see that the future fish are devolving again:
...the ever-lovin' end!

I like this ending, where the aforementioned Professor Richards seems to have learned nothing from all the trouble he caused and wonders aloud on how to improve his Evolution Ray! Here were go again! A very Filmation cartoon-style ending.

Another very fun adventure, Aquaman was batting .1000 so far in these Showcase stories!

But before we end this, I must mention--take a look at the first splash page of today's post. If you look at it--and yesterday's--you'll see the name of F.O.A.M. member Russell Burbage.

Last year sometime, when I needed these issues of Showcase for a project I was helping out with, I happened to mention to him that I didn't already own them. A few days later, Russell generously sent me his copies--the ones he had as a kid, hence the graffiti--so I wouldn't have to spend the $$$ to get them on my own. What a pal!


Anonymous said...

You are MORE than welcome. You got more out of these comics than I ever did. :-)

Anonymous said...

A good, rollicking adventure. Too Silver Age-y for my tastes, but fun none-the-less.

Unknown said...

Ahem, just for the record, I do know who the cool Mr. Burbage of the Teen Titans stamps lettercol logo is, I just wanted to know why his name was on the comics! ;-)

The fact that he gave these classics to you just makes him all the more cooler...

What a pal indeed!