Posts tagged ‘Aquababy’

Adventure 452 – Aquaman ends with a shocking death

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Aquaman’s third run in Adventure Comics ended with issue 452 (Aug 77), a truly ground-breaking story by David Michelinie and Jim Aparo, with a highly unexpected ending.

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Still pursuing Topo and Aquababy, Aquaman runs straight into the Idyllists, and the waiting hands of Black Manta, who had taken control of the tribe, and their “lost city,” thanks to the map he acquired from the Shark.  Aqualad and McCaan are also his captives, and some history of the Idyllists is given.

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For the first time ever, Black Manta removes his helmet, and we discover why, in his own words, he is called “Black” Manta.  He reveals his plans to build an underwater kingdom for black people, making him sort of an aquatic Malcolm X.

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Manta announces that he has suppressed the ability of Aquaman and Aqualad to control the sea creatures, and indeed they find themselves incapable of doing so.  Manta has imprisoned Aquababy in a glass ball of air, in which he will die, and commands Aquaman and Aqualad to fight to the death for his own amusement.  Pretty sick and twisted guy, that Manta.

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The battle scene is extremely well done.  Aqualad is hurt and horrified to discover that his friend and mentor is sincerely trying to kill him.  Aquaman finds out that the fish they cannot control are actually mechanical, and commands Topo to free Arthur Jr.

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But too late.  Aquababy has died.  It was very rare for heroes to die at this time, and beyond imagining that the infant son of one would be killed.  On top of that, Aqualad finds it hard to simply forgive and forget that Aquaman tried to kill him, and cannot just go back to Atlantis with him.

Black Manta escapes, having sealed his position as Aquaman’s main enemy.

Aquaman jumps into his own comic at this point, and his search for Black Manta, as well as his difficulty with Mera after the death of their child, are handled in that book.  Although this would be pushed to the side for a while, the death of their child would cause a rift between Aquaman and Mera for well over a decade.

Aqualad stays on in Adventure, gaining his own back-up series.

And I cried myself to sleep after I read this, at 12 years old.

Adventure 451 – Aquaman vs Starro, and Martian Manhunter ends

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Even as a kid I was not impressed by the Aquaman story in Adventure 451 (June 1977).  The cover was dramatic, and it was cool to see Starro the Conqueror, who had not appeared since battling the Justice League in their very first outing back in 1959.  The art by Jim Aparo is strong, as usual, but David Michelinie’s story was just too easy.

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Topo grabs Aquababy yet again, and this time makes it out of the Aquacave with him.

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Aquaman follows, and discovers Starro in a hidden underwater cove, now able to mentally control sea creatures, as well as the purple-eyed Idyllists that had featured in the Aqualad sub-plot.

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Starro promptly explains to Aquaman that his new powers only exist if he stays in the polluted waters of the cover.  Just great when a villain immediately explains how to defeat him.  Aquaman has a bunch of puffer fish spray clean water into the cove, Starro loses his abilities to control others, and Aquaman trounces him.

Not very impressive, even for a starfish.

Starro’s next outing, 4 years down the road in the pages of JLA, takes a different slant on the character, and makes him a far more viable villain.

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The conclusion of the Martian Manhunter story, by Denny O’Neil, with art by Mike Netzer and Terry Austin, pits him against Hawkman and Hawkgirl, whose spaceship he encounters.  He immediately jumps to the conclusion that they must have come from New Mars, and attacks.

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I love that page.  Look at it as a whole, and you will notice that the various components form an outline of Hawkman’s head.

Hawkgirl manages to talk some sense into J’onn, and the reader is allowed to see that N’or Cott is now openly scheming against the Manhunter, and clearly not the noble being he had appeared to be in the first two instalments.  He builds a Superman robot-bomb, and sends it onto the ship with the three heroes.

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Instead of resolving the storyline, this final chapter actually serves as a lead-in to a Superman/Batman/Martian Manhunter team-up in the pages of World’s Finest Comics, with the Hawks having cameos in it.

 

Adventure 450 – Aquaman vs Weather Wizard, and Martian Manhunter vs Supergirl

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David Michelinie contributes the Aquaman story in Adventure 450 (April 1977), which pits him against the Flash’s foe, the Weather Wizard.  Jim Aparo stays on the art.  The Weather Wizard had last appeared in DC Super-Stars, with other villains, playing baseball against super-heroes.  I am sooo looking forward to writing about that story!

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General Morgan turns to Aquaman for help when a NATO plane goes down over the ocean, and Aquaman discovers it in an area of dry land, where the water is being held back by the Weather Wizard.

Mark Mardon had done this in order to lure the Flash, and is disappointed when Aquaman shows up instead, which is a nice touch.

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Some good art on their battle, and it’s interesting to see Aquaman battling on dry land, even if it is an ocean bed.

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Intercut with this is the confrontation between McCaan and Aqualad and Aquagirl.  Garth’s purple eyes are the key, a trait of the Idyllists, whom McCaan blames for stealing his son.  He has been tracking Aqualad over the past few issues, convinced he was part of the group because of his eyes.  Garth disabuses him of this notion, but agrees to help him find his son.

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This story is also notable because Aquababy finally gets a name, mentioned in passing by Mera.  After what must have been seconds of thought, he is called Arthur, Jr.

The Weather Wizard, defeated by Aquaman, next appears a few months down the road in The Flash.

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The Martian Manhunter approaches Earth in this chapter of his story, written by Denny O’Neil, with are by Mike Netzer and Terry Austin.  He is pursued by N’or Cott, though unaware of that.

He winds up in a confrontation with Supergirl, appearing between issues of Superman Family, though he claims to have mistaken her for someone else.  Exactly who he thought she was is not explained.

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Once again there is little use of his extensive powers, and the best thing about this chapter is the art.

Adventure 447 – The Fisherman returns, and the Creeper ends

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The Aquaman story in Adventure 447 (Oct 76) feels a bit like a filler issue, before the full length story in the following issue.  Paul Levitz, Marty Pasko and Jim Aparo craft a decent enough tale, but it really does little except lead up to the coming resolution.

After bidding farewell to Aqualad and Aquagirl, Aquaman pursues the gun-smuggling operation to a Civil War mementos factory on land, and falls into the hands of the Fisherman.

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The Fisherman is working as hired muscle for Black Manta, and his fight with Aquaman takes up most of the issue.  Only at the end do we see Manta and Karshon plotting together.  There is also a brief scene with Mera and Aquababy, presumably just to remind us they are part of the story as well.

The Karshon plotline concludes next issue.

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The third and final chapter of the Creeper story is a bit better than the previous two.  Not that Marty Pasko has remembered to make Jack Ryder abrasive, but Ric Estrada and Joe Staton’ s art is satisfactory.

It turns out the Maddox’s robot is acting on his unconscious whims, but no less deadly for that.  The Creeper manages to get him to face his creation, in order to stop it.

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That doesn’t work exactly as planned, as Maddox dies destroying the robot, but the physiotherapist gains the ability to walk again, even though the telepathy thing is a bit of a stretch.

Jack Ryder has a cameo in Teen Titans, and the Creeper next appears in Secret Society of Super-Villains.  His next run at a series is in World’s Finest Comics, with his creator, Steve Ditko, returning to helm the character.

Adventure 446 – Aquagirl returns, and the Creeper fights a robot

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Adventure 446 (Aug 76) was the first issue of Adventure Comics I ever bought.  Curiously, one the main reasons was the cover, which I now find overly busy.  But at 11 years old I loved Aquaman riding the giant seahorse, and the whole Aqua-Family on the banner, as well as the Creeper, whose story in Super-Team Family 2 I had really enjoyed.

Not being familiar with the characters, I thought Topo was an evil monster in the opening sequence, when it grabs Aquababy, rather than simply the boy’s babysitter.  To be fair, the previous issue sets it up to look like an attack as well.

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Robin has a cameo, as Aquaman tries to get information to Aqualad about Karshon being the new king of Atlantis. The story, by Paul Levitz and Marty Pasko, with art by Jim Aparo, uses that to transition to Aqualad and Tula, Aquagirl, on board a ship tracking down Black Manta.

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Tula had not appeared since the final issue of the Aquaman comic, and I had never seen her before, so I was genuinely concerned when she got tied up with an anchor and thrown overboard.  Of course, being an Atlantean that merely causes her some difficulty, not death.

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Aquaman joins the fray, and all three heroes take on Black Manta, who does the wise thing and flees, leaving behind the cargo of guns he was smuggling.  Aquaman is left to ponder the connection between Manta’s gun-running, and Karshon’s take-over of Atlantis.

And I just loved it.  I bought every issue for the duration of Aquman’s run in this book.

 

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On the other hand, I was not too impressed with the Creeper story, by Marty Pasko, with Pic Estrada and Joe Staton art.  Never cared for Joe Staton.  And it didn’t help that I hadn’t read the first part of the story.

The Creeper flees from the cops, and figures out a connection between the robots and a telekintic scientist, Maddox.  Just as it starts to pick up, with the physiotherapist being forced telekinetically to walk off her balcony while the Creeper is stuck fighting the robots, it ends.

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But as it concluded the following issue, I was not too distressed.

Adventure 445 – Aquaman gets a new Aquacave, and the Creeper begins

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Adventure 445 (June 1976) has a largely forgettable tale by Paul Levitz and David Michelinie, though the Jim Aparo art is, as always, excellent.

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The Aqua-Family move into a spiffy new four story Aquacave, which gets a cutaway diagram.  As it turns out, little of this cave will actually be shown or used in the coming stories.

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Aquaman fights a scary monster, at the behest of some underwater religious freaks who kidnap Mera.  But really the only interesting moments in this story have Topo sneaking up on the oblivious Aquababy, which continues next issue.

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The Creeper begins a three-part back-up story in this issue, written by Marty Pasko, with art by Ric Estrada and Joe Staton.  The Creeper had last appeared in a team-up with Wildcat in Super-Team Family, and his last solo outing was in an issue of First Issue Special.

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The story has Jack Ryder interview a physical therapist whose patients have been dying mysteriously, then coming to her aid as the Creeper, when she gets attacked by a strange robotic figure.

Not a bad beginning, but it feels pretty generic. It doesn’t really capture Ryder’s abrasiveness nor the Creeper’s manic side.

Adventure 444 – Aquaman exiled from Atlantis

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Aquaman discovers that he is no longer king in Adventure 444 (April 1976), at the worst possible time, in this story by Paul Levitz and Gerry Conway, with Jim Aparo art.

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Orm Marius, Aquaman’s evil half-brother, makes his first appearance since the end of Aquaman’s own book.  The Ocean Master threatens to blow up Monaco unless Aquaman turns over a serum that “can turn into water-breathers.”  I’m pretty sure there is a word or two missing in that sentence, probably air-breathers, which would make sense of it.  Two writers and and editor, and that line still got by.

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When Aquaman heads back to Atlantis to retrieve the serum, he discovers he has been dethroned, and meets his successor, Karshon.  The new king refuses to turn over the serum, so Aquaman decides to attack the vault and steal it, but changes his mind at the last minute.

Aquaman defeats Ocean Master, but learns from Mera that the serum has disappeared anyway, and he is being held responsible.

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The story ends with Aquaman and Mera exiled from Atlantis, along with their child, Aquababy.  Aquababy had not appeared since the last 60s, but does not seem to have aged a day, and still had not been given a proper name.

The Karshon storyline continues over the next few issues.

 

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