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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Aquaman (Vol.1) #1 - Feb. 1962

Comics Weekend "The Invasion of the Fire-Trolls!" by Unknown and Nick Cardy.

Behold--the very first issue of Aquaman!

Despite having recapped a couple Aquaman comics every single week for almost five years, the Shrine had never quite gotten around to looking at 1962's Aquaman #1, the first time the Sea King was the star of his own title. Let's see how he and his pal Aqualad fare against the deadly Fire-Trolls:
Quisp has arrived to warn Aquaman of the Fire-Trolls, and the Sea King and Aqualad bravely try and stop their rampage. Nothing seems to work, and Aquaman watches as the Fire-Trolls head for land.

Aquaman sees a U.S. Missile Base is in the Fire-Trolls' path of destruction, and gets the Army to bring out their weapons to fire at the monsters--but even that doesn't stop them! Aquaman then gets another idea, to try and freeze them, with Quisp offering to help:
After a house ad for a Batman Annual, an ad for stamps, a short feature called "Shorty", and Peter Porkchops in "The Secret of the Happy Pig!", we resume our story:
Aquaman sends an army of crabs to distract the Fire-Trolls while Quisp moves into position. One of the creatures splits off from the other two and Quisp blasts it with the freezing solution, which also seems to have only minor effect!

The Fire-Troll slaps the solution, covering Aquaman and Aqualad in it, freezing them! Before they are crushed by the Fire-Troll stomping in their direction, Quisp shrinks our heroes to bug size. The massive quake created by the Fire-Troll knocks them out of the way, but now they have another problem--they've been away from water for almost an hour, and are essentially miles away from the ocean!

On the way to find some water, they fight off a scorpion. Aquaman figures there will be water in a nearby abandoned jeep, but more trouble awaits:
During the break, there's Henry Boltinoff's "Homer Goes Skin-Diving:, as well as a non-fiction text feature called "Wonders of the Water World" (you gotta love those old Post Office mailing permits!). Now back to the story:
Aqualad grows very weak. Aquaman flags down a pelican flying overhead, and slaps it with his tunic, causing it to open its mouth, dropping the water contained therein on them, resuscitating both heroes!

Aquaman and Aqualad then escape the angry pelican, and start to notice that Quisp's effect is wearing off. They reach the ocean, where Quisp tells them what the Fire-Trolls have been doing: namely, stealing rockets!

Quisp overheard the Fire-Trolls talking, and learned that they plan to use the explosives to open up other submerged volcanoes, freeing other Fire-Trolls which will lead to them ruling the world!

Aquaman asks why Quisp shrunk them, and when he(?) says that wasn't intentional, the Sea King gets an idea. Shortly, Quisp finds the Fire-Trolls and tells them Aquaman has more of the freezing solution, which lures them to the surface. While they are busy smashing everything in site looking for the solution, Aquaman has some flying fish carry him over them, where he douses them with the chemical!

Then Quisp zaps them, causing them to shrink as Aquaman and Aqualad did:
The End...for now!

This first issue of Aquaman is a roller-coaster of a story, and very of its time: some giant monsters come out of nowhere, our heroes face them, experience a daunting setback, only to rally at the end, defeating the menace and wrapping the whole thing up with a joke.

No one seems to know who wrote this story (even DC's Showcase collections don't list a writer), but it moves at a breakneck pace and Aquaman is brave and resourceful. Lots of real-life details are worked in, and Nick Cardy brings the whole thing to life with this solid work. He would only get better from here.

Interesting to consider the Fire-Trolls come from some deep volcanic...trench under the sea, like some more modern day bad guys he's faced lately. The seven seas are a dangerous place!

One final note: If you look closely, you'll see that there's no indication this is the first issue of Aquaman anywhere on the cover--"NOW In a magazine of his own!" is the closest thing readers got to clue them in this was the first issue. That's because, back then, newsstand vendors were suspicious of giving up precious rack space to any new comic book that didn't have an established track record, so comic companies did all they could to hide that this was a new series. My, how times change.


jim said...

"Quisp"??? I never liked liked his cereal. lol

Did every 50's/60's DC hero have his own version of Bat-Mite????

Anthony said...

Try his own version of Mr. Mxyzptlk, Superman's foe (who Bat-Mite was devised as a counterpart of). The last issue of the recent "DC Super Friends" comic has Quisp, Mxy, and Bat-Mite (and a few other heroes' magic-imp counterparts) get together to crash a comic-con... :-)

Joe Slab said...

How appropriate rob! I just obtained a copy of this issue for my collection!

The only thing I have to add is how amazing the colors and use of space are on the cover (which I assume is done also by Nick Cardy)...There is more going on on this cover than on the covers of 10 modern day comics put together, and I love how he chooses to take advantage of the 3 dimensional perspective being underwater offers -- at a quick glance it almost looks like Aquaman & Aqualad are flying!

rob! said...

@Joe---Actually, this cover is credited to artist Howard Purcell!

Wings1295 said...

Fun comic, back when they were done for the fun of it all, story-wise.

r duncan said...

I think Eric Larsen rehabilitated the Fire Trolls in his run. He made them good guys.

jim said...

Thanks Anthony. Originally, was going to go with Mr. Mxyzptlk, but couldn't spell it on my own!! lol

Also, was never really a big fan of Mr. Mxyzptlk. That whole business of tricking him into saying his (very complicated) name BACKWARDS in order to (temporarily) get rid of him, sort of got on my nerves, after about the hundredth time they used that stunt.

Bat-Mite, however, was much more fun. When he & Mxyzptlk would fight, I always rooted for Bat-Mite.

Orin's dad said...

I remember when I first picked up this issue, years ago. My old LCS owner (that shop is now closed, unfortunately) knew I was a huge fan, and he came across it in a collection he bought and held it for me. What a great day that was... rob!, thanks for bring back some fun memories and a fun comic.

Tempest127 said...

Jumpin' Jellyfish--one of my earliest comics and favorite Aqualad memories! Love that cover!

Lord Thanatos said...

How do flames work underwater??

Crazy story, so upbeat. A quirky underwater gnome who needs help with some pesky fire trolls. Fantastic. A "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" scene where our heroes face 'giant' creatures. And the best, "They'd make novel pipe lighters, wouldn't they!" Love the older books.

And Quisp was pretty good cereal.