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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure

The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure, Episode 33: "The Stickmen of Stygia"

The Shrine couldn't let Mera Month pass without mentioning a show that has (to date) unfortunately gotten short shrift so far, in terms of coverage: The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure!

I've been meaning for years to get around to profiling this series' individual episodes, like I've done for the various incarnations of Super Friends. I absolutely loved this show as a kid--no pesky Wonder Twins or Robin taking up space, just all Aquaman all the time!--and its success helped launch the first and (for decades) most sustained wave of Aqua-merchandise. It still looms large in Aqua-History, some forty odd years later. So while we're not kicking off a look back at the series right now, we are going to jump ahead and profile an episode that featured Mera, "The Stickmen of Stygia."

Mera didn't appear in all that many episodes of the show, and when she did she didn't get much screen time (this was before it was known that women were, you know, good for stuff). But this segment opens with the Queen of the Seven Seas:
Mera (voiced by Diana Maddox, who gets to claim the title as the first Mera in another medium, beating--I think--the Mera from The Official Adventures of Aquaman LP) is with Aqualad, preparing a little practical joke on Aquaman. But little do they know, danger is lurking just around the corner!
The practical joke involves a wrecked ship (made from random parts Mera and Aqualad have collected) and using a flashlight to trick Aquaman into thinking its some sort of "force beam." Mera aims the "beam" at a nearby boulder, while Aqualad secretly nudges it loose.

Aquaman, thinking the boulder is going to hit the ship, gets in the way of the boulder, causing it to hit him! Aquaman quickly wakes up, but he's pretty annoyed at Aqualad, who apologizes profusely (strangely(?), Mera doesn't seem to get any of the blame).

But unknown to the Aqua-Family, yet another alien race has invaded the seven seas (seriously, they must be standing in line to take on Aquaman), a race of stick-like creatures from the planet Stygia. The head baddie (below) issues commands to his crew, which involves zapping Aquaman, Aqualad, and others with a paralyzing ray:

Aqualad and Tusky get hit with the beam, as does Aquaman--but he still manages to use his telepathic powers to command some finny friends to ram the alien's laser, freeing Aquaman from the beam.

The aliens try and blast off, but Aquaman lassos the ship, keeping it tied to the ocean floor. They respond by shooting out puffs of knockout gas, one of which hits Mera, putting her to sleep. Aquaman commands Aqualad to get her out of harm's way until she can recover:
Aquaman then decides to change tactics. Addressing the aliens directly, he pulls a Corbomite Manuever, telling them that he commands a powerful beam that can be used to crush the aliens' ship.

They think he's bluffing, but when Aquaman aims the beam at some overhead rocks, causing them to fall onto the ship (actually the work of some dolphins), the Stickmen realize they are out of their, um, depth, and blast off.

Aquaman watches them leave, and we see that the fake beam--again, just a flashlight--was aimed by a now-recovered Mera:
The AquaFamily has a good laugh over the fact that the practical joke ended up helping them defeat the Stickmen! Aquaman and Aqualad climb back aboard their seahorses, ready for another adventure!

At only five or six minutes, these Filmation Aquaman shows move like lightning--there's an intro, a villain, an initial fight, then Aquaman wins. Done and done. I like this episode a little more than some others because Mera is involved, even though she acts more like a contemporary of Aqualad, rather than her husband. Still, the character was being introduced to millions of new people, something that undoubtedly helped keep her around as part of Aquaman's supporting cast during the lean years.

This may be our first recap of a Filmation Aquaman episode, but it won't be the last!



Anonymous said...

Animated Mera was a mystery. No powers (at least no evidence of any), and no indication of any relationship with Aquaman as far as I can recall. (I think the closest was referring to her as a friend.) BUT she had a pink seahorse!

Gernot said...

I LOVED this cartoon as a kid! I rarely got to see Aquaman's show on Sundays as a kid, though. I always had to go to Sunday School and church in '67 and '68! ;)

It drove me CRAZY how Filmation's Aquaman had more powers than did the comicbook Aquaman! Filmation's could throw hard water balls, too! LOL :) I always wished DC had let Aquaman keep that power. :)

Thanks for the post. Love the blog! :)

Wings1295 said...

Loved this show, too. I believe this was my introduction to Aquaman and how great he was!

aquaman said...

This show introduced an entire generation to Aquaman. I loved it, still do. The amazing Phil Jimenez once said to me that he was so surprised how many people knew Aquaman by this show and because of Superfriends. He said so many remember him as always being in the back seat of the invisible jet! LOL

Earth 2 Chris said...

I finally got the Filmation Aquaman series on DVD for Christmas. My kids and I have enjoyed watching them together. Overall, I think I like Filmation's treatment of Aquaman over their Superman and Batman toons. Maybe it's because this is Aquaman's only solo show.

But hey Rob, let's not dis Robin, okay? Garth would be nowhere without Dick Grayson!


r duncan said...

Speaking of Mera's seahorse, it had no name as far as I know. (Perhaps a new "naming" contest is in order.)

Joseph Brian Scott said...

Didn't she call her seahorse Clytie in her first appearance? Like the sea nymph in Greek mythology who fell in love with the sun and was turned into a sunflower? I don't know where I'm getting that from...maybe I just dreamed it.

hobbyfan said...

Kenn: You're right as rain in re.: the 1967 Aquaman toons. Mera was merely the Sea King's girlfriend instead of wife on the show for whatever reason, but it's a fool's gambit considering ABC had the Fantastic Four that season, and at least they were up to speed with the comics.

The hard water balls Aquaman threw on the show was actually what Mera was capable of in the books. The only flaw to Filmation's presentation was giving Mera the short shrift. Somehow, H-B never bothered to use her on Super Friends all that time.......