Saturday, February 18, 2012

Aquaman #22 - Aug. 1965

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Comics Weekend "The Trap of the Sinister Sea Nymphs" by Bob Haney* and Nick Cardy.

This issue of Aquaman opens with the Sea King and his bride in a playful moment--but a big surprise is awaiting our hero:

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Kandor realizes that Mera is not Hila, and is angry at her betrayal. But first, he turns his attention toward Aquaman, demanding to know where the home of the Seven Golden Eels are. Aquaman of course refuses, so Kandor responds by putting the Sea King into a series of death traps to get him to talk.

First is the Test of the Thousand-And-One Harpoons, which is just what it sounds like: a phalanx of razor-tipped harpoons are fired at Aquaman all at once, but thanks to his superior speed and skill, he uses a snagged harpoon to bat the rest of them away. Next is a Pulverizing Pendulum, followed by an Army of Armadillo Warriors (Kandor likes his alliteration).

Aquaman comes out the winner in all three challenges, so Kandor takes matters into his own hands:
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Aquaman finds Kandor a more difficult foe, and is assisted by Hila, who steps in having seemingly changed sides once again.

Mera regains her powers and joins the fray, just in time for Kandor to spray Hila with a cloud of mind-controlling gas, flipping her back yet again! Kandor then sics Hila on Mera, and the two engage in a fight to the death!

It looks as though Mera has defeated Hila, and she has, but we learn that it was Mera who Kandor accidentally gassed, turning her against her husband (confused yet?)! To make things even worse, the Armadillo Army goes rogue, and turns against Kandor by unleashing a machine known as the Juggernaut against all of them:
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...The End!

This is another important moment in Aqua-History, since it features the debut of Hila, Mera's sister. Of course, Geoff Johns has said that the new villain Siren is *not* Hila, but I don't think it's unfair to surmise the latter inspired the former.

Incredibly, Hila did not return, which seems amazing to me--having a twin Mera show up seems like such an instant plot device that I can't believe no later Aquaman writer ever decided to use it.

The Shrine probably does not compliment Nick Cardy's work enough--partly because we generally don't cover his era on Aquaman as much as some others, partly because his work is so consistently excellent that it's almost easy to take it for granted. But in this issue, Cardy's skill at body language really shines through--which only makes sense, since he had two identical Mera's to keep straight throughout the book. In particular, I love this panel:
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Comics of the time could only get a way with so much, but Cardy adds just a hint of sauciness to Hila's face and body language that suggests this is not the woman we--and Aquaman--think it is. The book is full of little details like this, making this issue one of Nick Cardy's finest Aquaman efforts. And that's saying something.

I put an asterisk next to Bob Haney's name up above, because there is no proof he wrote this. But I use the same reasoning here that I did last week, for the same reasons.

One last thing about this comic--this:
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I could make this one hell of a Random Panel of the Day, but I'm not gonna. Get your minds out of the gutter.

4 comments:

Anthony said...

Interesting name Hila's beau has, "Kandor"... wonder what Superman would've made of his name if Arthur told him about this adventure. :-p

Kenn said...

Loved this story! Thank you!

Earth 2 Chris said...

What's better than a Nick Cardy Mera?

TWO Nick Cardy Meras!!!

And I couldn't help but chuckle at that last panel!!!

Chris

KJ Sampson said...

If I have to get my mind out of the gutter, man, it's only 'cause YOU shoved me in it! :)