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.
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.
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.
Aquaman gets into conflict with a university professor of marine biology in this story.
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.”
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.
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.
The Sea Sleuth makes his final appearance in the Aquaman story in Adventure 143 (Aug 49). Of the three stories he appears in, the second is easily the best.
This one sees him gets shipwrecked on a deserted island. He makes the most of things, in a Gilligan’s Island kind of way. I almost expect monkey butlers.
Aquaman is looking for him, but with no success until a pirate lands on the island, and Phineas puts some effort into contacting Aquaman. You have to wonder why he didn’t bother doing this earlier.
Aquaman finds him, captures the pirate, and plans to take the Sea Sleuth back to shore.
But I would say that the final panel, combined with the fact that the character never appeared again, means that the Sea Sleuth decided to stay on his island, and simply lived in solitude, never contacting Aquaman again.
A shame, as he was a decent character and it would be almost a decade before there would be another human supporting character in this series.
Aquaman decides to teach the Sea Sleuth how to swim in Adventure 141 (June 1949), but quickly gets distracted by a ship in trouble, or so it seems.
In fact, the people on board are criminals who lured Aquaman intentionally, to capture him and replace him with a double, in order to rob a charity event.
Aquaman dumps some coral into the sea as a message to the Sea Sleuth, who proves himself worthy of his name, deducing the location where Aquaman is being held. Phineas frees Aquaman, who trounces his double and retrieves the pearls stolen from the charity. Good story.
Aquaman gets a sidekick, of sorts, in Adventure 140 (May 1949). The Sea Sleuth is Phineas Pike, a man who knows all there is to know about the ocean, its life forms and the various craft that cruise on it.
Aside from his unfortunate habit of dressing like Sherlock Holmes, he proves to be quite a help to Aquaman, deducing the location of a captive on a deserted island, tracking a ship in the fog and figuring out the mooring location of a boat by the barnacles on its side.
The writer keeps him from completely outshining Aquaman by having the Sea Sleuth unable to swim.
The Sea Sleuth appears in two more stories within the next three months, both of which I will be writing about.