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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Adventure Comics #268 - Jan. 1960

Comics Weekend "The Adventures of Aquaboy" by Robert Bernstein and Ramona Fradon.

I have a small collection of 1950s/1960s issues of Adventure Comics, and every so often I like to drop in a Comics Weekend where we talk about the wonderful Aquaman stories from this time--drawn by the incomparable Ramona Fradon, its always a sunny day, the villains are usually just mis-guided instead of evil, and Aquaman is a happy adventurer. They're like a cool drink on a hot day.

Anyway, this issue starts off with one goofy (and yet intriguing!) image, and then we find Aquaman rescuing an old man whose boat is about to be lost at sea:
Aquaman tries to reassure the man--named Captain Harte--that he does have these amazing powers, and that the man--having lived alone an island for twelve years--is just "out of touch."

Aquaman also feels like he's met Harte before, and then he remembers...it was back when he was the continuity-defying superhero Aquaboy!

Aquaboy--with the help of some whales--saved Harte when his boat collided with another. But Harte, instead of being grateful, is suspicious and defiant, refusing to believe this boy has the powers he says he has.

Years later, he is still convinced that "Aquaboy" was a hallucination:
(God, do I love Aquaman's look and pose in that last panel!)

Aquaman recalls other moments when, as Aquaboy, he tried to introduce himself to Surface Dwellers, but no one would believe what they saw.

As he tries to figure out how to convince Harte that he's real, a sea quake erupts:
...blind or not, living on a remote, sun-kissed island sounds like a pretty good life to me. And now that he has money for an operation to restore his sight, life's pretty sweet for Captain Harte!

Inadvertently, there's an interesting(?) observation one can make about the state of the DC Universe with this story: the plot hinges upon Captain Harte's complete refusal to believe someone with Aquaman's powers can possibly exist. Because, of course, there weren't really that many superheroes running around.

Now, of course, this story just plain wouldn't work--with so many superheroes in whatever world the DCU inhabits, who wouldn't believe in someone with amazing powers?

As usual, Ramona Fradon delivers a perfect art job. Another example of her great work on the Sea King tomorrow!


Neal Snow said...

The one thing that I can't get past are those yellow gloves. When I was a kid my mom had yellow gloves just like those that she used for washing dishes.

Sean Tiffany said...

Aquaboy putting his head in the shark's mouth has to be the best thing I have seen all day!

Russell said...

Ah, Ramona Fradon. One of the all-time greats. Amanda Conner and Terry Beatty remind me of her style now...

wich2 said...

Love Fradon!

(And the closeup of the old man looks like John McCain - as drawn by Jack Kirby!)

-Craig W.

David Cutler said...

"(And the closeup of the old man looks like John McCain - as drawn by Jack Kirby!)"

Hahaha, that's very true...