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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Adventure Comics #260 - May 1959

Comics Weekend "How Aquaman Got His Powers!" by Robert Bernstein and Ramona Fradon.

It's Adventure Sunday!

Well, after many years of Adventure Sundays, it's finally here--the debut of the Silver Age Aquaman:
...and so begins another era for Aquaman!

The editors at DC clearly knew this was something special this time around; after a decade and a half of consistent, if sometimes a little unremarkable, superhero adventuring. To that end, they actually mention Aquaman on the cover of the book, something they hadn't done for many, many years.

Thanks to writer Robert Bernstein (a generally under-heralded steward of the Sea King) and presumably editor Julius Schwartz, we got a brand-new Aquaman, even if the yellow gloves here make it a little hard to discern that. I've always found this origin so perfect, so immediately iconic, almost mythic, that to me any subsequent revision seems useless at best. And as drawn by Ramona Fradon, it immediately belongs in the pantheon of Great DC Comics Moments, and catapulted Aquaman into becoming one of the main pillars of the DC Universe.

As I mentioned last week, Adventure Sundays will keep going, chronicling these early adventures of the Silver Age Aquaman, as he slowly morphed from Golden Age holdover into a distinctive, headlining character all his own!


Anthony said...

And so we have the Silver Age origin for Aquaman.

Must've been a fairly big deal for DC at the time, given Aquaman's mentioned on the cover, plus this story was plugged in the previous issue!

The editor of "Adventure" was Mort Weisinger, which might explain why Arthur made various appearances in the Silver Age Superman books. (Though apparently Weisinger must've liked Arthur more than Ollie, who didn't get so lucky ;-) )

Re: Superboy: while Superboy is in space on a mission, the Kents adopt a boy from the Smallville Orphanage for a month, who turns out to be a superpowered alien that temporarily takes Superboy's place.

Comix Guy said...

Am a big fan of Aquaman and i would like you to go through this blog: http://aquamanorigin.blogspot.ae/

It has a brand new re-imagining of Aquaman's origin and i would like to know your thoughts on this. Cheers!!

Earth 2 Chris said...

Don't forget Mort co-created Aquaman, and maybe his pal Schwartz's revitalization of Flash and upcoming work on Green Lantern (who hadn't debuted yet) made Mort think his characters needed a refresh too. Mort's other Adventure creation, Green Arrow, had received a new origin just 4 issues earlier, and Mort was in the early stages of refreshing and adding to the Superman mythos, so change was in the air.

I've heard a theory that Schwartz pushed for a retelling of Aquaman's origin for inclusion in Justice League, but B&B #28 was over a half year away at this point, so I'm not sure of that. That same theory says Schwartz pushed edtior Jack Schiff to "super hero up" the Martian Manhunter strip in Detective.


Anthony said...

Yes, the various changes at DC across the board would've helped. Like Weisinger's Superman mythos additions, we also see various ones come soon for Aquaman (Atlantis as a setting, Aqualad, etc.).

Not sure that theory makes sense---"my father was a scientist who gave me the ability to breathe underwater" could've worked in the Silver Age as well, though it wouldn't have given as many storytelling opportunities as the Silver Age origin. (It also wouldn't have meshed with Atlantis still existing in Superman stories...)

Unknown said...

Viva Adventure Sunday!

This is the definitve version of Aquaman's origin to me. It's perfectly realized. I know that all of the attempts at changing his origin since then have just been hopelessly convoluted. Aquaman, like Superman & Batman, has a simple, elegant beginning that strikes a deep emotional chord. Although the mixed-marriage angle was first used for Namor in '39, it works even better here.

I love Ramona Fradon's work here, and I'm glad that she was still the artist when this was published. I wonder however, did Nick Cardy ever get a shot at retelling the origin. Between Fradon, Cardy & Aparo (among others), it's just impossible for me to choose one favorite artist for Aquaman.

For my money, I think the development of the JLA did have something to do with tightening up the superhero strips at the time. At the very least, I'm sure National noticed that they were starting to sell better, and wanted to make sure that didn't stop.

James Chatterton