Posts tagged ‘Aquaman’

Detective 300 – Batman vs Mr. Polka Dot, and Aquaman ends

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Detective 300 (Feb. 62) pits Batman against Mr. Polka Dot, which is a clear indication that “anniversary” issues were nothing really special yet.

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The villain, not given any other name, threatens Batman and Robin with various weapons concealed as polka dots on his outfit.

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He manages to capture Robin, using him as bait to lure Batman into a trap.

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I have to admit, I do like the irony in Robin imprinting a braille message in the note he is forced to write.  The dots leading to his downfall.

It’s likely no surprise that this character did not return until the 80s, and his few appearances in modern times have taken him far less seriously than this original story by Sheldon Moldoff.

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Aquaman gets his final story in Detective, with Aqualad in tow, and art by Nick Cardy.

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He is fooled by thieves into leading through a number of perilous traps on the way to a buried treasure.  The thieves claim to be friends of a professor lost there, but in fact are using Aquaman in order to steal the man’s find.

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A simple story, and a villain Aquaman has little trouble defeating, but the pleasure here is in Cardy’s art.

Aquaman’s own comic had begun by this point, so he continued to appear despite the loss of this series.  The end of the strip was the result in a page cut, leaving the Martian Manhunter the sole back-up series.

Detective 294 – Batman fights Elemental Man, and Aquaman fights weird fish

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Batman fights a villain with the power to turn his body into any element in this Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff tale.

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Professor Higgin’s lab assistant, John Dolan, gets accidentally exposed to a gas that endows him with his element changing powers, and he starts to go insane.  Higgins builds him a belt that will control his changes.

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The professor works on trying to find a cure while Batman tries, and fails, to capture Dolan.

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Batman gets exposed to the gas, and also transforms into a element man.  Fearing he will go evil, Robin and Higgins lock him up, but he escapes as mercury and joins Dolan in his rampage.

The explanation for how Batman rigs the machine to drain Dolan’s powers is overly complex, it goes on for two pages.

Although this character never returned, he was one of the four villains to have new versions made of them as Strikeforce Kobra.  As well, his powers are essentially the same as those of Metamorpho, who would be introduced a few years down the road.

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Aquaman, Aqualad and Topo all return for this Nick Cardy story, in which a man claims to have trained bizarre sea creatures to respond only to him.

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It takes Aquaman only a couple of pages to figure out the creatures are robots, and defeat the liar.

 

 

Detective 293 – Batman on an alien planet, and Aquaman begins

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The Batman and Robin story in Detective 293 (July 1961), for all its adventure on an alien world, feels much like a re-write of a story from the 40s, “Destination Unknown.”

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As with the earlier tale, the story introduces four other passengers, along with Bruce and Dick.  One is a criminal on the run, two are fated to become lovers, and another is an older man who has given up on life.

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The earlier story was set on a train, but in this one they are all on a ferry boat, which abruptly gets teleported to an alien world.

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There each of them confront their inner demons, while Batman and Robin help one set of aliens use mind-control to dominate a different set of aliens.

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The story ends with the various characters changed forever.  Sheldon Moldoff did the art, but I wish I knew who wrote this story.

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Aquaman, riding a wave of popularity in the early 60s, begins a short run in Detective Comics in this issue.  He had a series in World’s Finest Comics at this time, and was also appearing in Showcase, about to launch into his own series.  The 6 page story in this issue, with lovely Nick Cardy art, has Aqualad and Topo in it as well.

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Together they capture the Sea Raider, who had been trying to kill the publisher of a local newspaper, who was out to expose the pirate.

More Fun 107 – Green Arrow, Superboy, Johnny Quick and Aquaman end

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More Fun 107 (Jan/Feb 1946) was the last issue of the book to feature heroes.  With the following issue, Green Arrow, Superboy, Johnny Quick and Aquaman were all gone, moved en masse to the pages of Adventure Comics.  The comedic strip Dover and Clover was the only one to stick around, being joined by numerous other “funny” strips.

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The last adventure for Green Arrow and Speedy in this book have them struggling against a mathematical genius who is trying to help them with their case, unaware that the archers are intentionally laying a false trail to decoy the thieves.

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It’s a decent story.  The Arrowcar gets wrecked at the end of the tale, but it’s all fixed up (or replaced) by the time Green Arrow’s series in Adventure begins.

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Johnny Quick’s final tale gives Tubby Watts the larger role, and has excellent art by Mort Meskin.

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Johnny and Tubby are on a riverboat cruise, when Tubby falls overboard and winds up in the hands of gangsters, who hold him for ransom.  He is blissfully aware of the alligators menacing him.

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A fun little tale.  Glad this series carried on.

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Joe Shuster returns to the pencils for the last Superboy story in More Fun, which also finally gives young Clark Kent glasses.

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It’s a dynamic story, that has Superboy aiding a boy in a soap box derby.  Though you do have wonder what age he and his friends are – soap box derbies, marbles championships and yet a high school new editor!

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Similarly, if he is in high school, why is he punished by writing lines on a blackboard?  But ignoring the age issue, it’s a fairly good story.

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Aquaman’s final outing is bookended by an entertaining bit in a classroom as a teacher explaining that Aquaman never comes to the inland part of the USA.

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He is searching for a lost seal cub, and tracks him through the St. Lawrence Seaway, into the Great Lakes and over Niagara Falls.

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Overall, this issue is actually much better than some of the ones preceding it.  Likely why these series were all kept, rather than cancelled.

More Fun 103 – Superboy fights a caveman, and Aquaman delivers a lecture

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Superboy goes on a camp out with friends in More Fun 103 (May/June 1945).  Once again, Clark is wearing no glasses to disguise his identity, and you have to wonder why Joe Shuster thought this was a good idea.  The glasses were always the barest nod to the concept of disguising one’s identity, but at least it was something!  Without the glasses, it is beyond reason that Clark’s friends do not recognize him as Superboy.

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As with the rest of Superboy’s run in More Fun, there is no real supporting cast at all.  Ill-defined and never recurring “friends,” and some similarly anonymous police.  Not even the Kents are regular players in this strip.

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The story in this one is pleasantly diverting.  Clark and his friends explore some caves on their camp-out, and find a caveman, who is really a reclusive scientist, and some criminals hiding out.

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Aquaman gets into conflict with a university professor of marine biology in this story.

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Aquaman heads to a college to see if there us anything more he can learn about sea life, but instead makes a dramatic appearance at a lecture, arguing with the professor about a fish called “chaetodom triagulum.”

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Aquaman brings the professor out to sea to settle their argument, and despite his knowledge, the professor is scared of the reality of the ocean.

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All is well at story’s end.  Aquaman proves himself right about the fish, but the professor is just impressed, not jealous.

The reason this story made it into my blog is the heavy similarity between this character and the Sea Sleuth, a short-lived supporting cast member in the early years of Aquaman’s run in Adventure Comics.

More Fun 89 – the origins of Green Arrow and Speedy, and the returns of Black Jack and Dr. Clever

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Green Arrow and Speedy have their origins told for the first time, in More Fun 89 (March 1943).  Oliver Queen’s story is very, very different from the later tale, but there are notable points of similarity in Roy Harper’s.

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Lost Mesa is the location that eventually brings the two heroes together.  Roy arrives first, as his father dies in a plane crash, and he is trapped there, along with an old native guide Quoag.  The notion that Roy was orphaned during a fatal accident, and then raised by natives, would remain in every variation of his origin story.

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Oliver Queen is introduced as a wealthy collector of weapons.  Criminals attempt to rob him, but instead succeed only is destroying his collection.  Oliver has heard of Lost Mesa, and intends to re-stock his collection with weapons from there, which he terms “a gold mine.”  The bad guys overhear this, take it literally, and head there themselves.  Lost Mesa is apparently not that lost.

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Entertainingly, the two men do not hit it off at all when they meet, Roy mistaking Oliver for one of the gang.  They both get captured, but free themselves.  In plotting their revenge against the hoods, they adopt the basic guises and nicknames that would define them as heroes.

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As a plus, they discover that there really is a treasure horde of gold in Lost Mesa.  As a minus, Quoag dies trying to help them.

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And though a rope attached to an arrow is not at all beyond the normal scope of archery, the fact that he brands it an “Arrow-line” makes this an early trick arrow as well.

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Black Jack returns again in this story.  He has a modern, oil-burning watercraft as his pirate ship, and that seems enough to warrant a story.  It’s a pretty run-of-the-mill affair for the most part, except when it gets down to the fight.

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Black Jack captures Aquaman at one point, and intends to suffocate him by withdrawing the oxygen from water.  The “scientific” discussion between the men is so awful even I can tell it’s complete nonsense.

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Aquaman uses whales to create a distracting rainfall, as well as to propel him and some eels up to the villain’s lair.

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The eels in turn function as ropes.  From simple commands, Aquaman’s power to control and manipulate sea creatures has jumped to the staggering level it would remain at.

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Mort Meskin brings back Dr. Clever in this Johnny Quick story, but the character really doesn’t have that much to do with the story, and appears only in a few panels.

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Tubby Watts gets a larger than usual role, as he and Johnny Chambers spend some time as guests at a training camp.  It’s really not clear in the story if they are they just in order to make a newsreel, or if visiting the camps was a normal activity at the time, part of the recruitment process?  Certainly Tubby is not treated as a man doing a job by the military at the camp, but more like a potential soldier.

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While Dr. Clever schemes sabotage off to the side, Johnny races around doing all manner of tasks that soldiers in training do.

 

More Fun 87 – Green Arrow fires a rocket-arrow, Dr. Fate – doctor, Aquaman meets Atlanteans and Tubby Watts gets paid to do nothing

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Johnny Quick gets his second cover appearance on More Fun 87 (Jan 43).  He still doesn’t get the lead spot, and Green Arrow resumes his cover features with the next issue.  This is also the final issue with a Radio Squad story, the one early series that stuck around.

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Green Arrow and Speedy wind up in a complex case, which builds to a big prison breakout attempt.  But the plot is not the important thing here, it’s the arrows.

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Up until now the arrows have always been used in the acceptable variety of ways arrows are used – like setting them on fire, or shooting them up as signals.  But in this story, it stretches a little further.  In order to sneak into the prison to get information on the villain’s plans, Green Arrow and Speedy shooted hooked arrows at convicts, reeling them in almost like fish.

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Towards the end of the story, the duo fire off rockets, but Green Arrow specifically calls them Arrow-Rockets, name branding them a la Batman.  But also making this the first trick arrow.

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Some really nice art by Howard Sherman on Gardner Fox’s latest Dr. Fate story.

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Dr. Fate is pitted against a rival, but the doctor is a phony, as Kent susses out in his medical day job.  This issue shows him as a doctor, while most of the issues simply refer to his occupation in passing.

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Some of his powers seem to be back, as he is immune to bullets, and he’s pulled his crystal ball out of storage!

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There are even a couple panels of Dr. Fate underwater, drawn in Sherman’s unique way of expressing that.   A better story than most of the late Dr. Fate tales.

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Atlanteans get introduced in the Aquaman story in this issue.  The ark-type ship shown in the splash page is run by thugs in biker jackets, gathering rare creatures from around the world.  They find an Atleantean man, beat the crap out of him, and throw him in a  cage.

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The reader is treated to a fairly standard telling of the destruction and sinking of Atlantis.  The art makes ancient Atlantis look pretty urban and bland.

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Aquaman discovers Atlantis and meets its inhabitants for the first time – the previous notion of him living in a temple in the abandoned ruins can easily be blended with this.  He mistook an abandoned out-lying settlement for Atlantis proper.

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He frees the captured Atlantean, and throws the men in cages to be displayed to the Atlanteans.  Just temporarily.  So he says.

 

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Tubby Watts gets a more important role than usual, in a convoluted story that sees him paid by criminals to do nothing, part of a scheme to steal a farmer’s land that has oil on it.

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Tubby gets the plot-line, but after a page of being Johnny Chambers, Quick gets into action.

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Meskin is now making the most of the multiple images visual, which also appears on the cover.

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Drawn this way, Johnny has finally become a visually distinct character from the Flash.

 

 

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