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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Aquaman (Vol.1) #18 - Dec. 1964

Comics Weekend "The Wife of Aquaman!" by Jack Miller and Nick Cardy.

Behold--another milestone in the legend of Aquaman!

Last week on Comics Weekend Saturday, the Shrine covered Aquaman #1, the first time the Sea King headlined his own title. When talking about a previous Aquaman comic, we've generally tried to look at the issues in order to preserve the storyline. But since many of these early comics didn't use continued stories, I thought it'd be fun to jump around a bit, and go back and revisit some of the big moments from the Sea King's past.

One of those moments is undoubtedly Aquaman #18, where Aquaman took a wife! Let's check out how it happened:
Mera's pursuer creates a giant purple monster (no, not that one), in an attempt to stop Aquaman and Aqualad. But thanks to some deft maneuvering, they cause it to slam into the beast the man is riding.

In the process, Mera is knocked unconscious, and they take her below the waves. Aqualad notices how much his mentor seems to care for Mera, and asks if he loves her. Aquaman answers yes, he is. That's heartbreaking news, since Aquaman must marry an Atlantean woman, which Mera is not. How to tell her?

Mera wakes up and tells Aquaman what has happened: turns out that the dimensional portal she used to visit Earth was about to close for years, and Mera, unable to bear the thought of not seeing Aquaman for so long, chose to use it one last time, and stay on Earth.

Following her through the portal is another member of her race, a man named Oceanus, who declares his love for Mera, and for power: he wants Mera to be his bride so they can conquer the Earth! Mera's answer is emphatic:
Mera wanders onto a beach, where she attacked again by Oceanus. Mera, despondent, no longer has the energy to turn down his offers, and meekly agrees to marry him, which thrills Oceanus to no end ("Ha! Ha! It's working, she's beginning to trust me!").

Oceanus' next step is to head straight for Atlantis and demand to be their king. This offer is, naturally, rejected, and Oceanus responds by using his powers to create a small army of hard water creatures, who attack and defeat the Atlanteans easily. As Oceanus declares himself their new king, the people wonder, where's Aquaman?

Above the waves, Aquaman and Aqualad spy an SOS coming from a signal fish, which they take to mean there's trouble at home. Once there, they face off against Oceanus' creations:

Aquaman and Aqualad are about to be killed by Oceanus, but Mera stops him, demanding time to humiliate Aquaman they way he humiliated her. Oceanus is delighted, and agrees. Soon, our heroes are turned into servants, having to wait on Oceanus and Mera hand and foot.

Mera demands a large, grand temple be built for the wedding, so the Atlanteans (including Aquaman and Aqualad) are put to work. Later at night, they escape and try and capture Oceanus, only to be fooled by a hard water simulacrum. Oceanus, waiting in the wings, pulls a weapon on them, and is about to shoot.

He is stopped by Mera, who grabs the weapon and confesses she's been lying to Oceanus all this time. Oceanus, little rat that he is, quickly folds:
...The Beginning!

With this issue, Aquaman made superhero history, in that he became (I think) the first superhero to get married. Sure, the Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl were married, but they were a couple from their introduction. This is the first case I can think of where a character was introduced into a superhero's series, only to have them marry the main character.

As drawn by Nick Cardy, Mera is simply gorgeous, a statuesque beauty--who also was, in her own way, a superhero. Truly a match made in heaven! The Aquaman fan in me wishes the wedding wasn't so truncated (it's all of one panel, with Superman and Martian Manhunter rudely talking during the ceremony, to boot), but this kind of character stuff was always given short shrift in favor of action. Having said that, this issue is a marvelous adventure, filled to the brim with fun moments, all beautifully brought to life by Cardy.

This issue brought to you by Tootsie Rolls!


r duncan said...

Definitely a great book. Glad to see Johns getting back to the heart of it all.

Tempest127 said...

Easily the best cover of that series and a really fun story. Amazing that Garth always had to do the thinking for Arthur when it came to domestic issues, poor lad.

Joseph Brian Scott said...

Thank you so much for the scans; it's great to see this story in color again.

Russell said...

I think Nick Cardy forgot Green Lantern was a member of the Justice League.

Wings1295 said...

Great issue and an amazing milestone for Aquaman and comics in general. Mera truly was well-matched for her hero!