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Sunday, September 13, 2009

More Fun Comics #76 - Feb. 1942

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

More fun with More Fun!

I've still been enjoying these Aquaman stories from the Golden Age of comics, so I thought we'd keep going with More Fun Comics for Comics Weekend.

So, after a couple of run-ins with the villainous pirate Blackjack, this time Aquaman takes on a different foe, no less deadly:
Aquaman is told that the ship that was sunk contained "valuable jewels from three countries" and some Navy divers are prepared to go down and retrieve them.

Aquaman is told to talk to Captain Skover, who doesn't seem too keen on Aquaman's input. In fact, after Aquaman tells him that he believes the ship was sunk on purpose, Skover tries to have Aquaman arrested!:
The Golden Age Aquaman takes no guff, Navy men or no.

Aquaman, now back under the water, sees one of the Navy divers looking for the jewels. But he also sees someone else, inside a giant red, almost robot-like metal suit, attack the Navy diver from behind!

Aquaman steps--er, swims in:
The man(?) in the metal suit gets away, while Aquaman is busy rescuing the wounded diver.

He sends the diver to the surface, then resumes the search for the jewels. Surprisingly, inside the sunken ship he sees an airtight cabin, featuring a young man (who doesn't look like he's in any hurry to escape), sitting with the jewels!

Aquaman tries to rescue who he assumes is the cabin boy, when he is grabbed by a giant metal claw from above. He's dragged to the surface, where Captain Skover is all too quick to accuse Aquaman of the sabotage!

Aquaman thinks he's figured something out, but Skover has a bunch of his men jump him, and throw him inside a decompression chamber. Once trapped, they start sucking the air out of the room.

Aquaman grabs the lone air pipe, using it to break off a panel in the wall, and bust out of it. Now free, he jumps back into the sea:
...is it me, or does Paul Norris' work here, especially the above panels, look a bit like art by classic EC artist Jack Kamen? Seriously--remove that first panel featuring Aquaman, and this looks like a sequence from Shock Suspenstories.

Anyway, Skover tells his crew that Aquaman is going to try and steal the jewels, so its a race against time.

Down below, Aquaman, with the help of some finny friends (the first time this ability was shown after his debut, three issues earlier), frees the sunken ship, unbeknownst to Skover.

Skover tells his commander that there are no survivors, and he plans to blast the ship with some depth charges, cracking the ship open, making it easier to recover the jewels. His commander agrees, but then sees the ship rise out the water, intact, courtesy Aquaman

They immediately try to arrest Aquaman, but he has something important to say:
...the end!

Another really fun story that features an unusual bit of characterization: a villain who is an American naval officer.

This issue is cover-dated Feburary 1942, which means it was on sale in December 1941, immediately after Pearl Harbor, when America was drawn into World War II.

Of course, this story was written and drawn before that fateful day, but it would've been completely understandable if DC would not have wanted to portray the U.S. armed services in anything other than purely positive, patriotic terms. Making Captain Skover a murderer and a crook is a pretty startling turn of events!

By the way--that's one nifty Dr. Fate cover by Howard Sherman. It reminds me of those classic, poster-like covers Jerry Robinson used to do for Detective Comics. Its a darn shame that Aquaman never got to appear on any of the More Fun covers!


Russell said...

It's funny that you mention the cover, Rob, because when I first noticed this post, I looked at the over and thought, "Of all the characters mentioned or shown on this cover, WHO are we talking about some 65 plus years later?? Not Dr. Fate or The Spectre, or even Green Arrow. Wow."

rob! said...

I'd say that More Fun's batting average is pretty good--70 years later, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Dr. Fate, and the Spectre are still around, appearing on merchandise and/or appearing regularly in comics.

Its only Johnny Quick who, after All-Star Squadron ended, has sort of fallen off the radar.

wich2 said...

Rob, your Kamen and Robinson calls are dead-on - what are you, an artist or sumthin'?

And I JUST saw a different Johnny Quick usage at a Flea Market yesterday - a TIJUANA BIBLE!

(The story possiblities...)

Great week,
-Craig W.

rob! said...


wow, a Johnny Quick Tijuana Bible? I've seen Batman, Superman, and Green Arrow ones, but JOHNNY QUICK?

There's got to be an Aquaman one, right? God, I hope so!

wich2 said...

"Honey, I see you are WET!"

"I hope we do not hurt you with my TRIDENT..."