Saturday, February 04, 2012

Aquaman (Vol.1) #11 - Oct. 1963

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Comics Weekend "The Doom From Dimension Aqua" by Jack Miller and Nick Cardy.

Since February is Mera Month on the Shrine, it was only appropriate to go back and check out the Sea Queen's very first appearance, way back in
1963:
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...talk about a Meet-Cute!

The beautiful stranger tells our heroes she is Mera, queen from another dimension. But when Mera was threatened by a violent coup, she was sent via a multi-dimensional portal for her safety.

Aquaman tries to comfort Mera by promising to look after her. But before they can decide what to do next, a fleet of submarines come flying through the air, landing all around our trio. Who could be responsible for this?

Turns out it's the work of Leron, the very man who tried to usurp Mera's throne! Aquaman, Mera, and Aqualad try to swim away, but Leron turns the water around them into hard steel, freezing them in place. Leron makes one demand: turn Mera over to him!
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Mera is relieved to know that Aquaman was never considering giving Mera up, but just stalling for time. Leron is overwhelmed by all the fish, vowing to come back and find Mera no matter what.

Shortly thereafter, Leron does return, which a small army of his friends in tow. They spot our heroes, and Leron opens up a whirlpool under the sea, which sucks Aquaman and the rest in--but Aquaman manages to free himself and Mera and Aqualad, making a beeline for Leron afterward.

Aquaman threatens Leron with his hard water powers (huh?), and when Leron doesn't back down, the Sea King does just that, creating hard water projectiles! How is this happening?

The answer is...Quisp, that magical imp who first appeared in Aquaman #1! Aquaman called Quisp in for help, and it was he(?) who created the illusion that Aquaman had such powers. Unfortunately, Leron has changed form into a shark, and has been spying on them all. He follows Quisp, and:
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Leron fires some sort of weapon at the trio, trapping them in some sort of giant bag. He then has his men drag them back through the portal, back to their home dimension. Leron them locks them all in a coral cage, dragging the scientist who created the portal in front of her. They demand to know how he created the portal, and threaten to kill Mera if he does not confess!

As he is dragged off, Aquaman calls his finny friends from across the portal, which grab the coral cage and smash it open. Aquaman, Mera, and Aqualad go back home, with Leron back in pursuit.

All this time, Mera's hard water powers have been gone, and she cannot understand why. But Aquaman gets a hunch about the cause when he wipes some oil off of Mera's arm, and her powers return, allowing her to use them to capture a couple of Leron's men. He enacts a plan:
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...so what about it, dear reader? Would you like to see Mera return! We bet Aquaman would!


With this issue, Aquaman as a series took a giant leap in the right direction--not only was it the first appearance of Mera, but it was the last appearance of Quisp. As you can see here, the little imp was already becoming a bit of story crutch--Aquaman calls him (again, ?) in to do something amazing, he does it, then he is dispatched a few panels later. Of course, inter-dimensional imps were all the rage in DC superhero comics of the 50s and 60s (see: Bat-Mite, Mr. Mxyzptlk, etc.), but to me a little of them went a long way. So swapping out Quisp for Mera is the definition of trading up.

Despite the final blurb asking readers what they thought about Mera, writer Jack Miller (and editor George Kashdan) clearly had plans to bring her back--she would pop up again just two issues later, in Aquaman #13!

1 comment:

Earth 2 Chris said...

Nice intro for Mera, but I find it ironic that Aquaman caused an oil spill. Especially considering your famous BP cover makeover!

Chris