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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Adventure Comics #267 - Dec. 1959

Comics Weekend "The Manhunt on Land" by Robert Bernstein and Ramona Fradon.

It's Adventure Sunday!

A very special adventure is on tap this month for Aquaman. Let's get right to it:
"Shark" Norton gets wind that Aquaman is looking for him, and he and his goons make a plan to attack the "sea patrol" trailer that the Sea King is lugging through town. They shoot out the truck's headlights, but Aquaman blinds the crooks using a school of luminous fish who emit a flash of blinding light!

Aquaman then orders some swordfish to leap from the tank and dive bomb Shark and his henchmen:
...and so ends another adventure for Aquaman!

This particular Aquaman installment has so much going for it I don't even know where to start! First off, check out the repeated mentions of Aquaman's Adventure co-star, Green Arrow, the first time any sort of other DCU hero has been referenced in an Aquaman story (save for a throwaway Batman joke). Second, this story clocks in at eight pages, the longest Aquaman tale to appear in Adventure at this point.

Third, I love Ramona Fradon's visuals for Shark's gang: the hoods with the weird, Scarecrow-from-Batman Begins-esque faces painted on them. They're wonderfully creepy and distinctive, and give what could be a bunch of generic goons something extra. Fourth, dig Aquaman's rolling Sea Patrol truck! Man, I would have killed to have that as vehicle/playset from Mego, it's such a fun and crazy idea.

For a minute, I was sure that "Shark" Norton was the same villain from "The Shark With The Human Brain" in Adventure Comics #203. But, despite their similar, shark-like visages, they are two separate baddies. Too bad, it would have been yet another historical marker to have one of Aquaman's previous one-and-done foes to make a return appearance.

So, you may be wondering, what happened with the other escaped bad guy, The Wizard, who is an arch enemy of Green Arrow? Well, much like DC Comics, I'm not going to make you wait a month (or, in our case, a week) to find out! Just keep reading to see Part 2 of this historic crossover!

"The Underwater Archers!" by Robert Bernstein and Lee Elias.

It's Adventure Sunday, Part 2!

A very special adventure is on tap this month for Green Arrow and Speedy. Let's get right to it:
As the whales chase Green Arrow's shaft, they drag our heroes boat and The Wizard's sea creature towards shore. Not waiting around to get caught, The Wizard and two of his henchmen flee in an escape pod, leaving Green Arrow and Speedy to try and find them again.

A week later, a prison ship hits an iceberg, causing a mass evacuation of the crew and its prisoners:
...and so ends another adventure for Green Arrow and Speedy!

As you might imagine, I found this two-part adventure completely delightful. I loved how Robert Bernstein (who had been writing both features for a little while) crafted the tale, kicking it off in Aquaman and then finishing it in Green Arrow. I also love the idea that many of the bad guys our heroes catch end up in the same prison facility. 

My only complaint--and this is a minor one--is that Aquaman and Green Arrow appear together so briefly: only one panel, and then it's over. It would have been wonderful to see GA and Speedy rendered by Ramona Fradon, but that is a minor quibble. It's a shame this kind of crossover hadn't been done before--how cool would it have been done to so something like this back when Adventure featured four or five different strips?

On the art front, Lee Elias is one of those guys whose work I'm only partly familiar with (though I do remember how much I liked his stuff on the Ultra, The Multi-Alien strip over in Mystery in Space). His art has a real Milton Caniff look to it, which is a-ok with me. I think the final panel of the Green Arrow story is the one time in his long career he ever drew Aquaman.

I of course didn't plan it this way, but sockamagee was this a perfect way to wrap up this year's run of Adventure Sundays! Happy New Year to everyone who follows these installments, and we'll see you all next Sunday for more!


Anthony said...

A fun two-part story!

Re: Superboy: In the Legion of Super-Heroes' second appearance, the Legionnaires trap Superboy in a kryptonite cage, thinking (per their time-viewer) he's destined to become a traitor to America in (his) future.

Earth 2 Chris said...

This story is reprinted in The Greatest Team-Up Stories Ever Told trade. It is a great, fun adventure, but it's amazing to think how reserved comic creators and editors were at this time. Imagine a modern crossover where the characters only meet for one panel...not going to happen! But you can see the true beginnings of a universe here...

Re: The cover. I like Cosmic Boy's costume with more purple in it. Never understood all the pink in his costume.


Unknown said...

Viva Adventure Sunday!

It's just a hop and a skip to JLA membership at this point. I wonder if Weisinger saw the handwriting on the wall. I'd never paid much attention to Elias' work much either, but it really shines here. I wonder if the underwater settings sometimes brought out the best in DC's artists.

Re Cosmic Boy: In the30th century, pink is the new blue.

I thought the Legion was inspired to form by Superboy/man in the first place. Man, Weisinger makes my head hurt sometimes.

James Chatterton

Anthony said...

@James Chatterton: They still were... turned out to be a mistake/malfunction with the Legion's time-viewer....