] type='image/vnd.microsoft.icon'/>

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Legends of the DC Universe #26 - March 2000

Comics Weekend "The Fishy Laugh" by Steve Englehart, Trevor Von Eeden, and Joe Rubinstein.

Aquaman and...the Joker?!?

Well, yes, the Sea King and the Clown Prince of Crime had a two-issue "team-up" in Legends of the DC Universe, a relatively short-run series featuring rotating characters and creative teams.

This story starts with a splash. A ker-splash, actually:
The Joker floats to the bottom, and sees an entire underwater army heading his way. He's grabbed by the tentacle of a mechanical octopus, and brought into an air chamber, where Aquaman (who, at this point in time, has never met The Joker) is waiting for him:
Aside from seeing The Joker kick Aquaman in the nards (something I could live without ever seeing again, thank you very much), this fight reminds me of something that drives me nuts regarding how Aquaman is written. More on that in a moment.

Anyway, Aquaman asks why a bunch of fish in the area all have Joker's face. The Joker explains that, since he was recently made "King of the Land", the day was marked by giving fish his face.

Joker promises to help reverse the effect, so Aquaman takes him to Atlantis, where he manages to charm a number of the citizens, including a comely young girl named Felua.

The Joker does what he promised, and comes up with an antidote, testing it on one fish that seems to revert back to normal. The citizens of Atlantis are thrilled:
Now that he has become a trusted ally, The Joker, being The Joker, decides to start causing trouble: he starts talking to various Atlantean elders, suggesting to each that they ought to mistrust the others, as well as their king, Arthur.

The Joker, delighted at his own cleverness, takes a stroll and encounters no less than Neptune himself! Except, of course, none of this is happening--its a hallucination, brought on by The Joker's prolonged stay underwater.

Felua finds The Joker with his air helmet off, and saves him by replacing it. During all this, The Joker comes up with an idea to go back to the Surface World (uh-oh). About a week later, Aquaman returns from a mission and finds things have changed while he was gone:

...to be continued!

Hmm, so what to think of this story? Its very, very, very odd--there are so many strange implausibilities in terms of character that the whole thing seems to be a farce: like Englehart is having some fun here, basically doing this story as a comedy with superheroes in it.

I mean, what the hell is wrong with Aquaman and the other Atlanteans? Sure, at this point in the history of the DCU they've never met The Joker, so they don't know him as the mass murderer that we do, but come on: do the citizens of Atlantis have no intuition at all?

Most people, even children, about three minutes into meeting The Joker would be creeped out and realize something is very, very wrong about this guy. It makes the entire population look stupid, which again makes me thing Englehart wrote this story with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

And the other thing I mentioned before: the fight scene. One thing writers can't quite seem to agree upon is how strong Aquaman is. Sometimes he's lifting up entire buildings, other times--like here--a guy who weighs 105 lbs soaking wet can fight him off.

Aquaman, while not being in the same class as, say, Superman or Wonder Woman, has super-strength. He can lift many tons, and has a punch that can rip through a metal bulkhead. If Aquaman hits you on the head, you will be knocked unconscious. A regular, non-superstrong person can not fight him, period. Any future Aquaman writers who are unsure on this, please feel free to print this post out and keep it in your wallet. Glad we got that settled.

Okay, be back here tomorrow for this story's conclusion--same Aqua Time, same Aqua Channel!


Louie Joyce said...

Always loved the covers for these two issues. Especially for the next issue.

Never read the issues though. From the looks of it, i don't really want to.

Richard said...

Yeah. I've been an Englehart fan since 1972...but I have no idea what he was thinking with this one.

David J. Cutler said...

What an odd, odd comic book. I didn't even know this existed.

I agree with your assessment, Rob, and I'll add this: I get a little annoyed when people always put "the" in front of Batman, or Spider-Man, or whoever. I get that it makes them seem a bit more mysterious, a bit more like an urban legend, but that's only when reporters or people on the street say it. People who know Batman should call him Batman, not "the" Batman.

Long live the Aquaman.

Unknown said...

As you say everybody,Aquaman punched an alternate universe Captain Marvel through an entire blockhead bouncing him off a gigantic girder to crash into the deck floor below,on board the JLA watchtower with a whirlwind team up distraction assist from the Red Tornado and he was not even in the water. If Aquaman can survive deep pressures beneath the waves and swim at super speed in those depths on land he is very powerful period

Wings1295 said...

I do remember this one as a very weird tale.

And you are so right. Why do writers forget Aquaman is super-strong? They don't forget it with Superman!

bribabylk said...

I dunno...the fight doesn't seem to really be about strength...the Joker doesn't actually land any real "punches" (sans invulnerability, I think getting kicked in the "nards" would hurt no matter who you are), and Aquaman seems to take care of him pretty easily. If it was an out-and-out fist fight, sure, there's no question Arthur could take his head off. Yeah, weird story, and the dialogue is kinda stilted, but all-in-all not unappealing. The Joker HAS to be using some kind of mind-control or psychoactive drug on the Atlanteans, right? If not--yes, I agree, they're gullible beyond belief. I like the artwork, for the most part; interesting perspectives. Don't care for the aqua-mullet, though.

rob! said...

Louie--I agree; the covers by Tony Harris are superb.

Like I said, I think this story is almost parody, its so over-the-top crazy.

David--Glad I could show you something new(kinda)!


Yeah, the inconsistency drive me nuts!

Point taken, but The Joker I'd say is even weaker than the average person--I mean, look at him: this is like Shelley DuVall fighting Aquaman! I just can't buy he could last five seconds in a fistfight with the Sea King.