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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Aquaman (Vol.6) #0 - Oct. 1994

"A Crash of Symbols" by Peter David, Martin Egeland, Brad Vancata, and Howard M. Shum.

A while back, I did a couple of posts talking about the first year's worth of Aquaman (Vol.6), which started in August 1994, picking up right where the Aquaman: Time and Tide mini-series left off.

When I looked at those issues, I had totally forgotten about that weird little moment when DC produced a bunch of "0" issues of many of their titles, part of yet another multi-book crossover event. Aquaman was one of the series that got an issue #0, and I finally got around to picking up a copy.

Aquaman #0 takes place in between Aquaman #s 2 and 3, after Aquaman has had his hand gnawed off by those nasty piranhas, under the control of bad guy Charybdis. Dolphin has grabbed Aquaman and Aqualad (who is also injured) and leads them back to Atlantis:

Later, we see what we think is Aquaman resting in bed. He is visited by Dolphin, who puts the moves on him, only to turn into some sort of horrible monster, digging her bloody claw into Arthur's chest!

Of course, this is a nightmare Aquaman is having, and all she and Vulko can do is wait while he recovers.

Aqualad recovers much quicker, motivated by the chance to spend some time with Dolphin. Meanwhile, Aquaman's nightmares get worse:
...I know its a dream, but that panel of Black Manta groping Mera looks so wrong. That's a nightmare if I ever saw one.

In this nightmare, Manta tosses Aquaman outside, where Atlantis is an empty husk of a city. He then finds him crucified by Manta, alongside Aqualad and Arthur, Jr.!

He then finds himself in the arms of his late mother, who cradles him like a baby, only to turn into Nuliajuk, mother of sea beasts, a snake-haired demon!

She is
startled by Atlan, the great wizard, and they battle for Arthur's soul. Aquaman, wanting to be worthy of the great Atlan, struggles to free himself from Nuliajuk's grasp.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Aqualad, Dolphin, and Vulko are shocked to see Aquaman's body surrounded by a giant school of fish, who swim around his body, not letting anyone get to him!

They carry Aquaman's body up out of bed, and right out of Atlantis. Aqualad and Dolphin take up the chase, and the trail ends at:
...and so begins a new chapter in the history of Aquaman!

While I admit now (and admitted back in that previous post), that these issues read a lot better than I thought they did at the time, I am still nonetheless very glad that the "Hook for a Hand" era of Aquaman is over. Maybe knowing that helps me enjoy these books more, I don't know.

That said, Peter David was really the only writer to make Aquaman a "hot" book and a consistent top seller, so obviously he was doing something the fans were responding to, in addition to drawing new readers to the character.

The only really frustrating part of this issue for me is on the letters page--in a tribute to the late Neal Pozner, editor Kevin Dooley admits that Pozner came to him and offered his services as Aquaman's new writer, having of course written the high-selling and well-received 1986 mini-series.

Dooley ended up not hiring Pozner. Knowing he had the chance and turned Pozner down made me groan, a feeling that got elevated into genuine anger when he seems to dismiss the series Pozner wrote, describing is thusly: "A nice story about the struggle between brothers. It seems, though, it's mostly remembered for Aquaman's 'camouflage' blue costume. It doesn't work, of course. The ocean is only blue on the surface."

Ah yes, of course--a blue costume doesn't work as camouflage underwater, that's true. Thank Neptune this new Aquaman series never relied on any logic-defying concepts, like cybernetic hook hands or anything like that.



Scurvy said...

I felt like I was in the minority at the time, but I really like Marty Egelands pencils on these early issues.

Russell said...

I like Marty Egeland's art more now than I did at the time. Compared to his replacement, this is wonderfully dynamic stuff.

Overall, though, not a fan of this series. I once met Peter David and told him I was an Aquaman fan (or maybe I had a Aman t-shirt on). He asked me what I thought of his run and I told him I didn't like the beard or the hook. He looked at me and said, "So... you didn't like it?" And I nodded, "Not really, no." He talked about how he made Aquaman A-List again, and I kind of agreed with him, but that doesn't mean I liked how he did it, ya know? :-)

Saranga said...

Great cover!

Vincent Paul Bartilucci said...

Aaah serendipity, thy name is blog-dom ...

Over at John Kenneth Muir's excellent "Reflections on Film-TV", Mr. Muir recently posted a wonderful piece called The Mask Makes the Monster:


It's a great piece wherein Muir discusses the direction that Rob Zombie will take the Halloween franchise in its next installment. It's about horror movie iconography but could just as easily be about any comic book re-imagining of a classic character or title of the last two decades. In particular, consider this great bit:

"...when does so much get altered, so much get changed, so much get removed, that a familiar franchise just isn’t familiar anymore?"

Now ask yourself, is Peter David the first writer to make Aquaman a hot property / A-list character? Or, rather, had so much been altered, changed, and removed by David (and, admittedly, a few others) that it wasn't really Aquaman anymore?

Peter David had great success with an aquatic hero who happened to bear a familiar-sounding name. He didn't make Aquaman a success.

Maybe that's why I liked David's Young Justice about a thousand times better than his Aquaman. DC didn't call it The Teen Titans!

King of Nails said...

I have to defend the 'hook and beard era'. I adored it- I have always enjoyed Aquaman as a character, but he always seemed so clean cut with a slight meanstreak. Peter David brought this meanstreak to the fore, and I enjoyed that. Aquaman also became a prominent JLA presence thanks to Grant Morrison's love of the character. Aquaman became a bad-arse to rival Batman. I still love this era. Maybe even more now.