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Sunday, August 30, 2009

More Fun Comics #74 - Dec. 1941

Comics Weekend "Aquaman" by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris.

Now this is exciting!

In the (almost) three years I've been running the Shrine, I've never had the opportunity to read any but two of Aquaman's Golden Age adventures in the title of his first appearance, More Fun Comics.

Except for the two issues of the series (#s 73 and 101) DC reprinted as Millennium Editions, all of Aquaman's other More Fun adventures have never been reprinted anywhere, making them impossible to find unless you had the unlimited funds to buy the originals.

But last week, a member of F.O.A.M. sent me two discs, without telling me what was on them. Once I opened them up, I saw that they contained every Aquaman issue of More Fun Comics, page by page! As Aquaman would say, Great Neptune!

Not knowing (and maybe not wanting to know) where they got these, I've chosen to let the generous benefactor remain anonymous for now*. But I couldn't wait to (ahem) dive in to these all-new (to me, at least) Aquaman adventures from the character's early years, so I'll be talking about them intermittently during the Shrine's Comics Weekend installments.

So let's start off with More Fun Comics #74, Aquaman's second-ever appearance, where he takes on a villainous pirate known as...Blackjack!
Blackjack and his crew not only steal the loot from the passenger ship, but they throw the captain overboard! Luckily, that sea-faring superhero Aquaman is there just in the nick of time to save him, as well as bust some pirate head:
"I don't like your faces...let's scramble them a little!" Man, do I love this Golden Age Aquaman--he's got style.

After taking care of Blackjack's men, he grabs the stolen loot and returns it to the yacht's captain. Blackjack and his men jump back onto their ship to escape, but Aquaman follows them!

But Blackjack has a trick up his sleeve--from behind an iron door he lobs a smoke bomb at Aquaman, knocking him out. When Aquaman comes to, he finds he's trussed up:
In an unusual turn, Blackjack asks if Aquaman wants to join his band of pirates, saying they can loot all kinds of ships because the "Nations are at war" (nice timely reference!), but of course Aquaman says no.

In response, Blackjack has his men tie an anchor around Aquaman's neck, sending him on a "Direct trip to visit Davy Jones' locker!":
There's something about this image I find very disturbing. Maybe it's the wince on Aquaman's face, or maybe its just the idea of having an anchor strapped to your neck, but for some reason this image really resonates with me, even after seeing ten thousand other punches, kicks, laser blasts, and explosions Aquaman has suffered over the years.

Anyway, Aquaman frees himself by using some sharp coral to cut his ropes. Then, he sees that Blackjack's ship has fired a torpedo at the escaping yacht. Aquaman, in a bold move, grabs the torpedo, turning it around, and letting it carry him right back towards Blackjack's ship!

Blasting a hole in their ship, the pirates are shocked to see Aquaman back aboard! As the ships lists from side to side, Aquaman wallops the crew--"Come on, pirates! Wallops or water--take your choice!"

After dealing with all the henchmen, Aquaman turns his attention towards Blackjack:

I love that Aquaman leaves Blackjack for dead, quite content with the fact that he's killed his opponent. Man, the Golden Age Aquaman was one bad-ass character!

I have to say, up front--I loved this story! It moves at a lightning pace, and while the characterization is, shall we say, a little on the thin side, there's a ton of action and Aquaman is a really resourceful, tough character, dedicated to, as he says in his last panel, making the ocean "that much cleaner!"

In addition, Blackjack--while hardly being all that original an idea--is a great villain for Aquaman, and clearly Mort Weisinger knew this, having him survive this story to fight Aquaman another day. And I like the idea of a villain who actually asks the hero to join him in his crooked mission--you never saw the Joker do that, did you?

All the More Fun Aquaman stories can't be this much fun, can they? I can't wait to find out!

*If you who gave me the discs do want credit, just let me know!


IADW said...

Now that's a disc worth having!! This was great - seems the Golden Age Aquaman had a strong pulp influence - but it works!

Thanks for sharing!

Wings1295 said...

Wow - Quite a gift, indeed! Enjoy it. And er, keep sharing? :)

rob! said...

I'll definitely be doing more of these CW posts on the More Funs, they're...a lot of fun!

Russell said...

Blackjack sounds like the kind of villain that should come back. I'd love to have seen a Silver Age version of the character....