Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Aqua-Mail

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It's time for another installment of AquaMail!

• First, this strip was pointed out to me by F.O.A.M. member Joe Mello:
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I had never heard of the Medium Large strip--check it out, its pretty funny!
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Joe also sent me this link, to an article on the site Topless Robot, listing the Top 10 Worst Comic Book Vacation Destinations. As you can guess, Atlantis made the list!
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F.O.A.M.er King Megatrip sent another mention of the possible return of Aquaman from a Newsarama interview with Dan Didio:

13) Aquaman is showing up in Blackest Night--that much is known. Readers have been looking for the return of Aquaman for some time now, but yet, he seems to have trouble gaining a foothold lately when he does return...

DD
: See--I'd argue that. Aquaman has trouble staying away--whenever he's not on the stage, we get tons of questions about when he's coming back (laughs).
NRAMA: But he is coming back in Blackest Night?

DD: Yes.

NRAMA: For better or for worse, as the general tone of Blackest Night seems to be hinting?

DD: One of the things that I find fun is a general misconception of what Blackest Night is. I think once #0 and #1 hit, people will understand much clearer the direction and the plans for some of the characters that are returning.

...I have no idea what any of that means, so I guess I'll just have to wait until Blackest Night to find out.
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The above panel is by by artist Shane Davis, who is mentioned in this interesting Newsarama piece about his possibly working on Aquaman:

Now that Davis has finished the Justice League issue, he said he's working on his next unannounced project. Rumors have been swirling that he'll be doing an Aquaman comic next, ever since artist Ethan Van Sciver told Newsarama last year, "You know who wants Aquaman? Shane Davis...And he drew Aquaman for Superman/Batman and it was awesome. And he deserves it."

"I want to draw Aquaman. I do," Davis admitted when we asked him about the rumor. "And I know Johns wants to write Aquaman. But you know why Ethan said that? We were at a dinner at a convention, and Ethan was sitting by me and he said, 'Oh,
you want to draw Aquaman?' And I said, 'Well, yeah. I do.' And Ethan said, 'Shane, it's all yours.' Because Ethan really wants to do Plastic Man. And Dan DiDio was sitting right there and so was Johns. It was kind of weird how that all happened.

"If Ethan ends up drawing Aquaman, I'm not going to scream, 'That's my thing to do!''" Davis said with a laugh. "But a little part of Shane Davis would die inside me if I wasn't the one to draw Aquaman."

This link was sent to me by several F.O.A.M.ers, including Brian Knippenberg and George Rears. Thanks fellas!
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F.O.A.M.er Brandan E poured through page after page of a message board, finding these interesting exchanges between commenters and Ethan Van Sciver talking Aquaman:

So, Ethan...just how far away is Aquaman: Rebirth or are we closer to seeing Plastic Man: Year One?

I'll have a better idea about that once Flash: Rebirth is finished, and I'll be working on that all summer.

What is your Opinion on Aquaman?

Aquaman is one of DC's icons that seems to be so easy to goof up. Creative teams have either made him silly or boring in the past, and I just haven't enjoyed reading an Aquaman book in a long time. Sub Diego was a cool story. Geoff has ideas for him, I have ideas for him...would they work and be well received? Making Aquaman relevant now is a big challenge. But I really like the character, and wouldn't mind taking a crack at it.
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Finally, F.O.A.M.er Benton Grey sent me a link to this site:
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FRPMods is a site for the mod community of a PC game. And the site actually interviewed Benton on the hows and whys of his love for Aquaman, which is way cool! (I'd love to be the subject of such an interview...I guess that's why I have the Shrine)

Benton makes some really good points about the Sea King, and the interview is interesting and in-depth. You should definitely go check it out!


Thanks to Joe, Brian, Brandan, King Megatrip, George, and Benton for helping keeping the Shrine up to date with all the Aqua-News out there on the world wide web!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Dennis Doucette's Aquaman Shrine

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My open call for people to send in pictures of their own Aquaman Shrine yielded results! This is the collection of F.O.A.M. member Dennis Doucette.

As some of you may remember, Dennis first appeared here when he sent in photos of himself as Aquaman, where he performs at Weeki Wachee Springs in Florida.

Because of that, Dennis' Aquaman Shrine has elements to it that most others do not:
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...Aquaman costumes, ready to go! That is all kinds of awesome. You never know when you're going to need to thwart some pirates.

Great pics, thanks Dennis!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Aquaboy & Lagoon Man #1 - May 2000

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Comics Weekend "Turning Back The Tides of Time" by Ben Raab, Sunny Lee, Larry Stucker, and Norm Rapmund.

Not having read the Sins of Youth storyline, I'm not exactly sure what's going on here, except for the fact that Aquaman (and other heroes) have been changed back into teenagers.

And here, we see the young Aquaman ("Aquaboy") enjoying some of the attention he's getting now that he looks like a cast member of Gossip Girl:
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After fighting off the beach bully, Aquaboy and Lagoon Man are called to help from a mermaid named Letifos. She brings "Dire tidings from Thierna Na Oge."

Apparently the city is under siege from Black Manta (of course it is), as he searches for Ronal's Staff--a magical relic with fantastic powers of transformation.

Aquaboy thinks, hey, maybe the staff can be used on them, and he, Lagoon Man, and Letifos head back into the sea:
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Aquaboy says they need to find Nuada, who is somewhere inside the city. Meanwhile, Lagoon Man is enticed by the various mermaid babes flocking to him, but Letifos warns they are not what they seem!

Turns out she's right--the mermaids turn into horrible demons and begin to attack. Aquaboy tries to help out, but Letifos says he must continue with his mission as they stay behind and fight.

Aquaboy makes it inside, and...
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Using Ronal's Staff, Black Manta has transformed Nuada into an octopus, and an angry one, at that. It attacks Aquaboy, but he uses his telepathic powers to communicate with Nuada inside, and uses her powers to transform back.

Black Manta attacks Aquaboy directly, figuring now that his old foe is just a boy, it'll be easy. Of course, Aquaboy may look like a boy, but he's still the King of the Seven Seas inside, and he wrests the staff from Manta, which causes him to revert back to his more animalistic form.

With Nuada's help, Aquaboy uses the staff to undo all the damage Manta causes to Na Oge and its people.

They are successful, but the strain nearly knocks them both out. Before Lagoon Man catches the falling Aquaboy, he makes sure the staff cannot be used for evil ever again:
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...there's an epilogue, where we see Klarion The Witch Boy free Black Manta from his prison, promising "To be concluded in Young Justice: Sins of Youth #2!"


Not a bad story at all, and it works fairly well for someone like me, who has not read all the ancillary tie-ins. Aquaman may be Aquaboy, but he's still Aquaman, if you catch my drift.

The cover--funky design and all--is by the late, great Mike Wieringo and Terry Austin. Makes me sad all over again that we never got to see his version of Aquaman.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Aquaman Special #1 - 1988

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Comics Weekend "The Missing Peace" by Gary Cohn & Dan Mishkin, George Freeman, and Mark Pacella

Hard to believe I've never gotten around to the 1988 Aquaman Special before now, but somehow I hadn't. Seeing it on my "to do" shelf for the one millionth time finally got me to sit down and start scanning.

This was Aquaman's first solo story since the 1986 Pozner/Hamilton mini-series. For various reasons, a second mini by that same team was not to be, so this one-shot was put together to help bridge the end of that series and where DC ultimately wanted Aquaman to be--namely, back in his classic orange and green suit.

But before we get to that, we find ourselves on the moon. Yes, the moon:
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Aquaman--with the help of Mera--rescues the crew of the ship and drops them safely off with the Coast Guard.

On their way home, Arthur expresses how "Good...free..brand-new!" he feels, and as any regular Aquaman reader knows, this is a big change for the man.

We get a brief recap of the earlier mini-series, and Aquaman's only regret is that his brother Orm had to die in the battle that caused Aquaman to experience this transformation.

Back in Atlantis, Arthur expresses interest in reclaiming the throne, but Vulko seems a little uncertain, leaving Aquaman frustrated
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...a bravura sequence, courtesy artists Freeman and Pacella.

We see this mysterious, "other" Aquaman still floating through this alternate reality, but this time, our Aquaman seems to feel it.

That feeling is interrupted by a telepathic distress call from a pod of porpoises in danger, and Aquaman and Mera head out to find them.

They are startled to find a massive, glowing, pink orb, which seems to pulse with life. As he begins to get closer, Aquaman is blasted in the back by a Russian mini-sub nearby.

Aquaman easily wrecks the sub, and forces it to the surface. Mera takes pains to surround the sub in a hardwater bubble, so the men inside don't die from the sudden decompression. Aquaman then lashes out at Mera, and she worries about his sudden unstable mood.

They then discover a typhoon-class nuclear sub that looks to be protecting the orb, and they climb inside it. There they meet a scientist named Yuri Popov, who explains he is the research assistant to Professor Vladmir Magus, who has been studying parapsychological phenomena under the sea.

Magus discovered four mystical artifacts buried in the seabed, and when he aligned them a certain way, a huge burst of power came forth, transforming Magus into the giant orb!

Aquaman thinks those might be the same mystic artifacts that Orm used against him, so he heads down to investigate:
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Face to face with Magus, Aquaman is perplexed by Magus' talk of a "soul-self" with Magus claims was split asunder by his battle with his brother.

Aquaman vows to find the mystic artifacts and separate them, which will remove Magus' powers. But, Magus warns, doing so will kill Aquaman's other half, and himself!

Aquaman realizes that maybe what Magus says is true--there is some part of his personality missing. A conscience, for lack of a better word, that guides both his emotions and ego. But before he can worry about that too much, he must find the mystic artifacts.

They lie in his mind's eye, inside four structures representing various signs of the zodiac: Taurus, Capricorn, Gemini, and Leo.

Aquaman experiences another mood swing, rushing headlong into Taurus' palace. He is grabbed and thrown by the bull before he can retrieve it, and he has to force himself to remember that it was his impatience that caused him to fail.

He then heads into the palace of Capricorn, where he is met by a phalanx of beautiful woman, who try to seduce him. He sees in the distance, a statue of his queen Mera, holding the magic crystal!:
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The old goat does what the bull did, and tosses Aquaman out of the palace. He has failed again.

He then battles the lion, but lets his thirst for a fight do him in--he fails a third time.

He is knocked out, and wakes to find himself in the presence of Magus, who has created an alternate world commensurate with his ego--Magus is now wearing a super-villain-like costume, perched upon a giant hammer and sickle.

Magus then shows Aquaman that his astral twin is near, but that doesn't stop him from trying to fight Magus directly.

Magus wonders if this quest--even if it means self-immolation--might be a form of suicide? Maybe all the guilt Aquaman has felt over the years is finally causing Aquaman to be so reckless, because he thinks, deep down, he'd be better off dead?

Magus uses this moment of doubt to attack, but its just the slap in the face Arthur needs to snap out of his funk. But instead of fighting Magus, Aquaman sidesteps him and goes after the fourth mystical artifact--the Gemini Seal!

Once removed, Magus' entire universe disappears into nothingness. The giant orb begins to disintegrate:
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...between this, and the Pozner/Hamilton mini-series, Aquaman was well situated for a fresh start: writers wouldn't have to feel bogged down from all the grim back story that had built up over the years, and simply write a more fun-loving, adventure-driven character, with his beautiful queen at his side. And in his original costume, to boot!

But of course, that didn't happen.


Re-reading this special, I appreciate all over again how well it supports the mini-series' themes, but moves Aquaman back to his original set-up and look, something DC specifically wanted writers Cohn & Mishkin to do.

The art I find phenomenal--I've always liked George Freeman's work, but he renders a terrific, fluid Aquaman, and a absolutely stunning Mera. Freeman tended to do work just in specials or annuals (perhaps he was too slow for a monthly book?), which is too bad, he would've been a great choice as regular Aquaman artist.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Flash Vs. Hostess Ads by Hembeck

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This brilliant one-page strip first ran in Hembeck #1, Fred's first collection of his material, published in 1980 (click to see a bigger version).

Like I mentioned with yesterday's strip, I loved Fred's conceit that the various DC and Marvel heroes were just your average Working Joes, and even though they were superheroes didn't mean they didn't have annoying stuff to deal with.

Also, as a kid reading this strip for the first time, this idea of the Hostess ads being a sort of separate entity really blew my mind--and the idea that the villains were so lame that the heroes were worried they'd show up in the regular comics was equally revelatory.

Aquaman doesn't appear in this strip, but The Flash touches on some of the marital strife he suffered from making Mera do one of the Hostess ads without him.

I always did wonder why Mera did her own ad...


I hope you enjoyed Hembeck Week, as I did. I've always loved Fred's work, and kicking off the week with a brand-new Hembeck strip is one of the most fun things I've ever had the opportunity to run here.

And remember, you can buy the giant Hembeck Omnibus book here. Tell 'em The Aquaman Shrine sent you!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hembeck Strip

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Another one of Fred's original strips, done for DC's Daily Planet feature page back in the day (like yesterday's, this recolored version is courtesy the awesome Hembeck Files site).

As a kid, one of the things that drew me the most to Fred's work was the idea of the various DC heroes as working stiffs--guys who were employed, in some fashion, as Comic Book Heroes, which came with its own set of problems and annoyances, as does any job.

In a post-Superman: The Movie world, I could see why Aquaman would be feeling a tad jealous, as he does here...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hembeck Strip

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One of Fred's original strips, done for DC's Daily Planet feature page back in the day (this recolored version is courtesy the awesome Hembeck Files site).

Aquaman didn't appear too many times in Fred's strips, and I don't recall ever seeing this one in the original comics. It sure is a kind of a grim joke, when you think about it...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Aquaman, Mera, and Namor - 2007

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This is a commission that Fred has up on his website, showing that its not just Sue Richards who feels a slight tug of her heartstrings when encountering Marvel's King of the Seas.

Hey, Namor, get your own girls!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Aqua Family in "Channel Surfing"

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Feast your eyes on this, a brand-new, all-original strip by the one and only Fred Hembeck!

I am a huge fan of the work of Mr. Hembeck, and one day I got the idea of commissioning Fred to write and draw a brand-new, Aqua-centric strip for the Shrine, done in the same format as those classic "Hembeck" strips that ran in those Daily Planet feature pages, so many years ago.

Fred thankfully agreed, and within a few weeks he sent this to me, and I couldn't be happier with the result. It looks and feels like one of those strips I loved so much as a kid, complete with terrible pun at the end. (You can click the graphic to see a in-color version)

I told Fred that maybe, just maybe, if he was up for it, I'd commission him to do more of these, and it could become a sort-of regular feature here on the Shrine. If that's something you'd like to see, leave a comment and let me know!

I'm so happy to present this new strip, that I've decided all this week on the Shrine it will be "Hembeck Week", featuring more Aquaman-related Hembecky goodness. Be here, it'll be fun!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

History of the DC Universe #2 - Feb. 1987

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Comics Weekend It's The History of the DC Universe!

In the wake of the Crisis, DC had Marv Wolfman and George Perez put together an interesting little follow-up series (as if they weren't already exhausted), giving readers the Who What Where and When of this new universe, as narrated by the Harbinger.

With Wonder Woman being removed from the traditional DC timeline, I was delighted to see Aquaman's origin get slotted in alongside Superman and Batman's as the three most significant developments of The Silver Age:
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The book then gives the development of The Man of Steel and The Dark Knight Detective the lion's share of the attention, which is predictable but understandable.

But of course young Arthur Curry does emerge as Aquaman:
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And he shows up in other places in the book, since as we know, Aquaman has been there for so many of the big important moments in DCU history, like the formation of the JLA:
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...he even shows up once more, when the formation of JLA Detroit is covered.

It goes without saying (yet I'm about to), that seeing Aquaman drawn by George Perez is such a treat. Perez is many ways the perfect superhero artist, and his Aquaman was always an impressive figure.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Invasion! Book 2 - 1988

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Comics Weekend It's the Invasion!

By this point in time, I had grown completely disinterested in DC's (or Marvel's) massive crossover "events". It seemed like each successive crossover had diminishing returns (in terms of reading enjoyment and effect to the DCU), plus you had to buy more and more tie-in books to get the full story, so eventually I tuned out.

So I had never read any of Invasion!, but I had to buy this second issue for a post for I Am The Phantom Stranger, and was pleasantly surprised to see Aquaman involved!

First, he shows up in the obligatory group shot:
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Later, different teams of superheroes form groups to combat the various alien invaders, and Aquaman leads the charge underwater, along with The Sea Devils and The Doom Patrol:
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...now I guess you could argue that four pages out of an 80-page book isn't all that much.

But when you consider that his participation in the Crisis was negligible, and he didn't show up at all in Legends, I thought it was great to see Aquaman get some pages all to himself.

He shows up once more, in the wrap-up, palling around with Robotman :
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Nice to know that the Sea King was an instrumental part in keeping our planet safe from marauding bands of alien invaders. Thanks Aquaman!


(
Invasion! Book Two by Keith Giffen, Bill Mantlo, Todd McFarlane, P.Craig Russell, Al Gordon, and Joe Rubinstein)
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