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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Adventure Comics #167 - Aug. 1951

Comics Weekend "Treasures of the Sea!" by Jack Miller and Ramona Fradon.

It's Adventure Sunday!

I love mobsters that hang out in suburban back yards. You've got to diversify in this post-WWII economy!

Meanwhile, a new era quietly begins for the King of the Seven Seas, Aquaman!:
Aquaman brings back a bag full of clams, loaded with pearls...or the microscopic beginnings of pearls, actually, meaning he has kept his promise to Captain Stillar, while simultaneously tricking him.

Stillar, sick of this, orders Aquaman on a third mission, and promises if there are any Aqua-shenanigans at all, he will shoot the Sea King on the spot. He then tells Aquaman of a sunken Spanish fleet, whose ships were filled with gold. Aquaman is instructed to bring back every bit of it. So...
...and with that, so ends another adventure with Aquaman!

Up top, I said a new era of Aquaman "quietly" started with this issue, and looking over this story over backs that statement up, I think. "Treasures of the Sea", by Jack Miller, is pretty goofy and silly, and reminds one of a lot of the kinds of Aqua-adventures that came before.

But of course the big change is the addition of Ramona Fradon to the strip, who would become one of the artists most identified with the character. She doesn't receive credit here (no one did), so I wonder how many comics fans even noticed. But I think you can see the joie de vivre that Fradon brought to Aquaman in panels like this:
John Daly's Aquaman was a cheerful, good-natured, but generally staid fellow (as were most Golden Age superheroes). Fradon's Sea King is goofier, beefier, a little more excited about being a superhero. Aquaman's body language is more bold, as are the ink lines: everything drawn by Ramona Fradon looks vibrant and bright, more alive.

Eventually the stories would catch up to Fradon, which undoubtedly helped Aquaman as a strip survive, even as most of his fellow superheroes got retired in favor of funny animals and bland houses of mystery.


Anthony said...

And now the classic Fradon era starts! Nice...

Re: Superboy: Superboy pretends a helmet Lana's wearing (that her dad brought back from Egypt) gives its wearer superpowers in order to protect his secret identity. I'm sure the backyard gangsters fit in, too!

Anonymous said...

Viva Adventure Sunday!

And Viva Ramona Fradon!

It's fascinating to see how well-developed Fradon was at this early stage of her career. Her skills were right up their with the best of her peers at the time. I wonder if Fradon's debut could be considered the demarcation point between the Earth One and two versions.

Once again, Aquaman beats a crooked captain at his own game.

James Chatterton

rob! said...

I'm sure the backyard gangsters fit in, too!

I'm sure they do and its not at all contrived!


The generally accepted debut of the SA Aquaman is in #260, but there could be an argument to be made that when Fradon showed up, so did the SA Aquaman.

Of course, that would make him the VERY FIRST Silver Age character, beating The Flash by half a decade. I don't think the comics world is ready for that!