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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Adventure Comics #262 - July 1959

Comics Weekend "The Undersea Hospital" by Robert Bernstein(?) and Ramona Fradon.

It's Adventure Sunday!

Welcome to AquaCare!
After Aquaman helps out his ailing whale pal, he spies some pirates trying to raid a nearby floating observatory, because we have those! Using his super-speed(!), Aquaman creates a whirlpool, causing the pirates almost to black out from the dizzying speed.

But when he slows down, thinking he's stopped the pirates, one of them grabs the ship's machine gun turret and riddles Aquaman with bullets! The men of the observatory can only look on in horror as Aquaman sinks to the bottom of the sea:
...and so ends another adventure for Aquaman!

Wow! I mean, wow! The Sea King faced some tough scrapes in his time, fighting Nazis and all, but to my memory there was never a sequence in any Aquaman story where he was pumped with hot lead, and we see it right in front of our eyes:

Considering this was the height of the Comics Code Authority's power, I'm amazed this scene made it past them: sure there's no blood shown, but rarely did any DC superhero actually take a bullet and have it cause demonstrable physical harm. 

You gotta give props to this unnamed pirate, too: after many hundreds of failed attempts by Black Jack, The Electric Man, multiple alien invaders, and thousands of gat-wielding marine crooks, it's this unnamed bad guy who delivered an almost-fatal blow to Aquaman. He probably told that story in prison for years afterward.

Aside from that one startling moment, this is all in all a really solid outing for Aquaman: I love his kind, warm-hearted motivation for starting the undersea hospital, and then the tense sequence of the fish silently taking care of his after he was shot. A really tense, well-done couple of panels, as always pulled off with aplomb by Ramona Fradon.


Anthony said...

"And that's how I started the undersea hospital, Mera. Later on, the sea creatures argued over whether to institute a single-payer health care plan run by Atlantis' government or go with privatized health insurance, but for the most part, things went well..."


I like this story... very kind of the Sea King, indeed. Also shows how loyal the creatures of the sea are to Aquaman... wonder if Marvel's sea life would treat Namor quite as warmly (or vice-versa) ;-)

Re: Superboy: Strange radiation and a kryptonite meteor cause Krypto to grow into a giant and give him rabies. Superboy uses the same means to make himself a giant and cures Krypto/himself with an x-ray vision treatment.

Guess it must've been "Veterinarians' Hospital" month for "Adventure"!

Unknown said...

Viva Adventure Sunday!

i love the whole tone of this story. The sequence of Aquaman's friends taking care of him is sublime. Didn't Batman used to take a bullet every other month back then? I think this is the first time we've ever seen Aquaman get shot. I guess you get used to it after awhile.

My 3 yr old son loves the Superboy cover. It comes up as a screen saver every now and then.

James Chatterton