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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Adventure Comics #269 - Feb. 1960

Comics Weekend "The Kid From Atlantis!" by Robert Bernstein and Ramona Fradon.

It's Adventure Sunday!

A large chunk of Aquaman History snaps into place with the addition of...Aqualad!
Aquaman tries to make the young foundling happy, but giving him a "hula hoop" made of eels, in an effort to get rid of his fear of sea creatures. That doesn't really work, so Aquaman tries again, taking the boy to a water spout. After a few minutes of frolicking, the Sea King reveals the spout is courtesy of a whale!

Seemingly making progress, Aquaman then introduces the boy to his octopus pal Topo:
...and so ends another adventure for Aquaman and Aqualad!

Yellow gloves be damned, we are now fin-deep into the adventures of the Earth-1 Aquaman, since now we've added Aqualad to the mix. After a decade and a half of the Sea King being all by himself, I guess DC felt that it would make sense to give Aquaman his own version of Robin or Speedy. I have never been a big fan of sidekicks as a general rule, but you can't help be charmed by this story: Aquaman is so sweet to this kid that it seems cruel not to keep them together.

Ramona Fradon once again does her usual stupendous job on the art; after years in the Teen Titans it's easy to forget how little a kid Aqualad once when he debuted: he looks about 7 or 8 here, so we got to watch him age over time.


Anthony said...

Ah, the first appearance of Aqualad!

Oddly, despite the cover promising "Aquaman meets Aqua-Boy!" (guess hyphenated to not confuse with Aquaman's teenaged super-career ID), we never see "the kid" (as he's repeatedly called by Aquaman) named at all in this story!

Re: Superboy: After Krypto is punished by Superboy, Krypto goes into space to find a new super-powered owner in "Solar Boy," who turns out to be a villain.

Anthony said...

One more note: contrary to the opening narration, there *is* a word for a fear of fish: "ichthyophobia." See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear_of_fish

Joseph Brian Scott said...

I've never understood why the writer went with both the purple eyes and the ichthyophobia...seems like the fear of fish alone would have been sufficient as a plot device to get Aqualad sent away from Atlantis. The purple eyes thing was introduced only to be immediately negated. Oh vell. At least years later that trait allowed him to have those neat purple eye blasts.

Earth 2 Chris said...

This isthe earliest solo Aquaman stories I read, way back in a Blue Ribbon Digest reprint when I was 6 or so. In fact, I encountered the younger, straight-haired Aqualad (or Kid from Atlantis) before ever meeting his older, fro-headed counterpart.

As mentioned a while back, Fradon sure knew how to draw children AS children. You really feel for poor Garth. No wonder Arthur took him in!


Russell said...

Love this story, both in story and art. Aquaman was so demonstratively affectionate to this kid, he would obviously end up being his side-kick. Just count how often he calls Garth "son."
Too bad the next issue wasn't an investigation into Aqualad's actual history and name....we would have to wait decades for that information.

Unknown said...

Viva Adventure Sunday!

I haven't read this story in decades. I too was struck by the genuine concern and affection that Aquaman showed towards "the kid". He's ideal foster father material. You can see from this why he would do so well governing Atlantis or engaging in team-building exercises with the JLA.

The relationship between them here reads so much better than the lame attempts to insert "conflict' between them later. Those never felt right to me. Also, the idea of Aquaman as a loner always felt false as well. I mean, he just spent the entire decade of the 50's introducing us to about 50 bajillion of his close friends. And he's obviously a team player, judging by this month.

Aqualad and the JLA started in the same month? We're definitely in the age of silver now!

James Chatterton