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Sunday, November 29, 2009

More Fun Comics #85 - Nov. 1942

Comics Weekend "The Unhappy Hunting Grounds!" by Mort Weisinger and Louis Cazeneuve.

More fun with More Fun!

I'm not sure about the physics of this issue's cover, but that's not for us to worry about--we're here to talk about Aquaman!:
Probably the goofiest--yet also grimmest--of all the More Fun splash pages.

This story opens with a bunch of cruel hunters, carelessly shooting their high-tech "electric guns" into seals. Of course, Aquaman is not going to stand for this:
The polar bear tries to sneak up on Aquaman, but he hears it when it gets too close. Aquaman grabs the polar bear, twirls it around, and hauls it onto land, right into the pile of hunters!

The hunters try and use the electric guns against the polar bear, but they're too weak to do much, and the angry bear chases the hunters back onto their ship. Aquaman watches nearby, promising "Those poachers have had one lesson! But they'll need another one before they learn that this island is unhealthy for them!"

The hunters, undeterred, plan to go back hunting seals the next day. But that night, Aquaman sends an army of seals marching up the ship's gangplank, where they chase the hunters into the drink!

Aquaman leaves a note for the hunters on their ship:
"Get off Seal Island before you have worse luck! If you think walruses are bad, you should see some of the whales I know--Aquaman."

The head hunter is not deterred by this threat, and his new plan is to get rid of Aquaman! And he devises a plan how to do it and not get caught...

That night, Aquaman sees one of the men fall off the hunting ship, and cry for help. Aquaman, showing a rare moment of compassion, rescues him and tries to bring him back aboard. But they drop a giant steel net over them both, trapping Aquaman!

The next morning, they drop him on a small tropical island, letting him broil in the hot sun, kept there at gunpoint. They leave him on the island, but promise to shoot him if he takes one step into the ocean.

Stuck, Aquaman does the Cast Away bit:
With the hunters still watching, Aquaman finds some soft sand near an oyster shell. He determines that, just a few feet under the ground, is a passageway to the sea!

One of the hunters sees him trying to escape, takes a shot at him, but misses--Aquaman is free!

Aquaman hops aboard a nearby swordfish, and makes a beeline for the hunters' ship:
I love the sweet last panel, with all the seals bidding Aquaman adieu.

Aquaman is less dynamic here than in previous stories--he's fairly easily captured (didn't he even try to escape while they pulled the other guy out of the net?) and the hunter's plan to wait Aquaman out and shoot at him seems like a lot of work just to be able to hunt some seals.

That said, I like the serious touch in what's a generally silly story concerning hunting. It helps underscore what makes Aquaman special, since he is the principal defender of all the creatures of the sea.


Unknown said...

Wow, a fairly strong ecological message 60+ years ago and in the middle of a world war, no less. We baby-boomers often feel we invented the ecology movement but Aquaman had us beat. The grimness of the opening panel portraying dead seals is not a far cry from a lot of press releases and documentaries put out by Greenpeace and others. While I agree this story is no blockbuster, it's really interesting from a historical perspective. After all, there were a lot of gangsters and Nazis to deal with in the forties. For a superhero to defend wildlife in those days was great.
By the way "sock-action" is a wonderful word. How it never made its way into popular usage remains a mystery.

rob! said...


Right on the money.

And yes, "sock-action" is pretty good. If they had somehow used it on the Batman TV show, we'd see it in newspaper articles about comics to this day!

Andy Luckett said...

Best. Splash. Page. Ever. I love how direct Golden Age Aquaman is. Got a problem with hunters? Just lob a polar bear into the middle of 'em!

Hey, maybe that's how the polar bears from Lost got on that island...

IADW said...

Thanks for that Rob! These 'More Fun' flashbacks are becoming a staple of my Monday lunch breaks - and no day needs more escapism than Mondays!

That splash-page is now my wallpaper - love the polar bears stern expression :D