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Friday, March 25, 2011

Undersea Heroes: Sea Ghost

It's been almost two years since the Shrine ran its last Undersea Heroes segment; I always intended to bring it back every so often but other things kept getting in the way.

But no more! We have a new hero to add to the pantheon of underwater heroes, and his name is The Sea Ghost!
The Sea Ghost is the creation of Jay Piscopo, a friend of the Shrine whose work has appeared here before--he's done three(!) different pin-ups featuring Aquaman and The Sea Ghost, an Aquaman costume re-design, and a sketch from my Aqua-Sketchbook.

The man is a fountain of creativity--I've lost count of how many characters he's created, and he's always posting something new on his Facebook page. Many people have remarked how prolific I am; Jay makes me look like Fran Lebowitz.

Anyway, last week Jay's undersea character The Sea Ghost got his own title, so I thought this was a perfect time to bring back the Undersea Heroes feature. Here's how the book opens:
The Sea Ghost receives a message from Commander X, telling him of a "temporal displacement" (those are the worst kind!) in an area near The Sea Ghost, who offers to investigate. His two young kids, Coral and Triton, want to come along, but he thinks its too dangerous and has them stay behind in their cool undersea headquarters.

The Sea Ghost finds the mysterious spot, and finds some sort of computer orb. Before you can say "temporal displacement", it transports The Sea Ghost across the galaxy to another world, where within moments he is assaulted by some armed guards riding sharks!

They throw a net on him, something SG could easily escape from, but he decides to play possum so he can learn what the holy halibut is going on. He is brought before this kingdom's queen where he learns of an endless war that's been raging between two races of people, The Phlan and the Simas.

The Sea Ghost finds the concept of endless war less than reasonable:
There's more--a lot more--crammed into this first issue. If there's another comic or cartoon I could compare this to as I read it, it would be Jack Kirby's New Gods stuff or Space Ghost (indeed, Jay namechecks both Kirby and Toth in an editorial at the end of the book): the ideas and concepts are flying at the reader at a breakneck pace, and there's no winking at the camera--this is no post-modern ironic superhero: The Sea Ghost would have fit in perfectly in the back of DC comic from the 1950s, albeit with more eye-popping color:
Not wanting to spoil the story for those of who haven't read this but might want to, let's just say the story wraps up, as it should, with a smile, and promise of more undersea adventure!

This first issue also features some cool pin-ups, some by Jay, and including one by Ms. Aquaman herself, Ramona Fradon, making for quite a debut!

As I said above, The Sea Ghost is an unironic, straightforward superhero/sci-fi/adventure story, and while it could come off maybe a little square, so did Space Ghost. It was refreshing reading a superhero comic that wasn't, er, drowning in irony and self-conscious detachment.

The Sea Ghost is an ideal comic for kids who are past, say, the Johnny DC stuff but not quite ready to tackle the darker world that most DC and Marvel heroes now inhabit. I have a pile of comics I keep after I read them that I give away to various kids I know; The Sea Ghost is right on top!

If you want to learn more about The Sea Ghost and Jay's other characters (five more have been created since I started this post), check out The Undersea Adventures of Capt'N Eli site. And tell 'em The Aquaman Shrine sent ya!

And don't worry, Undersea Heroes fans, it won't be two years before this feature returns! Stay tuned!


images2icons said...

Jay is great, and so are his stories, always proud to have him on the ole FB friends list. This was a great first issue, and yes the art is very reminiscent of a typical space ghost cartoon. Loved the play on "Ghost in the machine". Clever man that Jay.

Glad to see you giving time to other than DC marine marvels as usual it's been fun.

Richard said...

I see more Allred here than either Kirby or Toth. This is no bad thing, as there are plenty of folks trying to ape Kirby and Toth but we need a lot more of the Mike Allred feeling in comics!

One complaint, though. No real comics creator should be using that font. There are vastly better lettering fonts available, and several of them are free. I'm a lettering nerd -- mostly from having been a typographer for decades, but I could pick out letterers I liked and didn't like way before that -- lettering makes a difference even to folks who aren't. They might not know why a story looks classier or more professional to them, but unconsciously they'll pick up on the difference. Anyway, this art is good enough to deserve equally good lettering, is what I think!

Wings1295 said...

Sounds like something right up the alley of not only Aqua-fans, but fans of just good old comic book storytelling!

Joe Slab said...

Very cool!!! And not to detract but so far we have

Sea Ghost
MarineMan &

all in their own monthly books...notice any glaring omissions here?

Joseph Brian Scott said...

I really, really like the costume design. And it's heartening to learn of a comic book in which the story moves fast and things happen; I often feel nostalgic for the "old days" of when stories were cram-packed with locales and events and super-heroic action.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Sea ghost. I thought he was going to be a more serious character but theyve described him as an "underwater version of SpaceGhost". Still I like him and I'm just waiting for the mailman to come to my office and drop this issue in my hands so I can finally give it a read!

Um, Where's Marineman? He's pretty awesome. He's Aquaman light. A lot chipper and apparently treated with much more respect. Why didn't you Include Marineman, Rob?

Great post, anyway! :D