Posts tagged ‘Shark’

Adventure 459 – Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Deadman, New Gods begin, plus an Elongated Man story

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Major changes in Adventure Comics 459 (Oct 78), as the book expands to be a “Dollar Comic,” and the format becomes reminiscent of the 1940s anthology series “Comic Cavalcade, ” which also featured Flash, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman, as well as a host of other characters.  Deadman begins as a regular feature, and the New Gods conclude the storyline from their recently cancelled book.  The Elongated Man story was always intended as a one-shot, rather than the start of a new series for him.

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The features that had their own comics tried to do something different with their runs in Adventure.  For the Flash, this meant telling single issue tales, without the emphasis on the Rogue’s Gallery.  Still, the story had the standard creative line-up for the hero, with Cary Bates writing, and Irv Novick and Frank McLaughlin on the art.

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The story sees Barry Allen go to a high school reunion, and chaos and crime take hold when a psychic ex-classmate reveals that she has read the mind of one of the alumni, and discovered that he is the Flash.  She chooses to share this information with a man in debt to the mob, who kidnaps the Flash in order to have him fight the mobsters who are out to get him.

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Unfortunately, the mind she read was not that of Barry Allen, but instead a different classmate, who had become an actor, and was recently cast as the Flash.  Still, amid all the confusion the Flash swoops in to save the day.

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Deadman had been a frequent guest star in the DC Universe throughout the 70s, most recently in the Challengers of the Unknown revival, but had not had a solo series since his back-up in Aquaman in the early 70s.

This storyline brings Boston Brand back to his Hill’s Circus beginnings, and brings back much of his original supporting cast: Lorna, Vashnu, Tiny and his twin brother Cleveland, as well as introducing Cleveland’s wife, a Russian defector Inga, and their daughter Lita.  Len Wein scripts, with Jim Aparo on the art.

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Deadman spends a few pages remembering his origin and recapping his original series from Strange Adventures, while inhabiting his brother’s body as he performs his aerial act.  A gunman tries to kill him, and then manages to kill himself while Deadman inhabits his body, which should not be possible.

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Though there is no real explanation given for the events in this issue, Inga suspects it has something to do with her past and her defection, and later issues will prove this correct.

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Green Lantern had been sharing his comic with Green Arrow for the better part of the decade, so his short run in Adventure gave him solo stories for a change.  Cary Burkett and Joe Staton provide this brief tale, as a beautiful alien woman comes to Earth seeking Hal’s help.

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He fights off the energy leeches that have crippled her ship, but his ring informs him that she is disguising her identity, so he also blasts apart her deception.

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She reveals that she is not the hot babe she pretended to be, but lusted for Hal and figured he would not be interested in her if he saw what she really looked like.  Silly woman.  Hal Jordan will bed anything that moves.

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The New Gods continues the storyline from its recently cancelled revival in this and the following issue.  Gerry Conway and Don Newton did some commendable work on the series, but it paled next to Kirby’s original.

DeSaad gives a brief recap to Orion, explaining how the captured human Orion has freed were taken by Darkseid because they unwittingly possess the Anti-Life Equation he has been searching for.

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Highfather also gives some background on the New Gods and the long war between the forces of New Genesis and Apokolips, before the story shifts to Earth, as Lightray, Metron, Forager and Jezebel deal with the Antagonist and his mind-controlled hordes. as they attempt to assassinate President Carter.

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Darkseid and Orion meet and finish the recapping, discussing the long-foretold final battle between the father and son.  All of this basically a set-up for the big finale next issue.

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The Elongated Man gets a fun little mystery, which apparently needed five writers for a seven page story, as Len Wein, Paul Levitz, Mike Gold, Ann Delany-Gold and Steve Mitchell are all credited, along with George Ruppert and Bruce Patterson on the art.

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The story sees a group of diners at a chinese restaraunt receive fortune cookies stuffed with thousand dollar bills.  Raplph runs headlong into the mystery, while Sue calmly sits and watches, filling him in on the important information he missed by running around.  Gotta love her.

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Some fun stretchiness as Ralph boards a airplane already in flight, and confronts the mysterious cookie stuffer, who turns out to be a well-known comedian with a criminal past, trying to right his long ago wrongs.  As the comedian is known for being a cheapskate (and is pretty clearly based on the non-criminal Jack Benny), he wanted to pay back the town without ruining any part of his reputation, and Ralph, satisfied with the solution, agrees.

Though the Elongated Man appeared regularly in Justice League, he had not had a solo story since his run in Detective Comics a couple of years earlier.  His next solo outing was a couple years down the road, a back-up story in an issue of Justice League of America.

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Wonder Woman faces the Shark in this story, by Jack C Harris, with art by Jack Abel and Frank Giacoia.  Most of her tales in Adventure pitted the Amazon against other heroes villains, which was not such a bad idea.

The Shark, who last appeared in these pages battling Aquaman, invades Paradise Island in his quest for Wonder Woman.  She is secretly flattered by his interest, as she deems it an indication that he views her as a hero on par with Superman, Green Lantern and Aquaman.

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Sad that she bases her view of her worth on the attitudes of those who want to fight her, but even worse is the fact that the Shark simply wants her as a mate.

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It takes her an embarrassingly long time to realize that she did not lose her powers by being bound by the Shark, as he is not a human male.  You’d think she would actually be able to tell whether she had her strength and such, but not in this story.

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She compounds this error at the end, using her lasso to command the Shark to never “return to human form.”  But he WASN’T IN HUMAN FORM!  That was the whole point of why she did not lose her powers!

While not a bad story, per se, it certainly does not come off making Wonder Woman seem particularly competent.

The Shark returns the following year, battling the Justice League in their book.

 

 

 

Adventure 448 – Aquaman vs Karshon

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Paul Levitz and Jim Aparo bring the Karshon storyline to a strong conclusion in Adventure 448 (Dec 76), with a surprising revelation about the villain, which has nonetheless been visually hinted at constantly.

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Black Manta captures Aquaman for Karshon, and gets paid off with a map to the city of the “lost tribes,” which will play a role when Manta returns a few issues down the road.

Aquaman is thrown into a prison with Vulko, and we learn that Karshon has told the people of Atlantis that Vulko died.  Kind of a dumb move keeping him alive after that.  Just begging for trouble.

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And sure enough, Aqualad, Aquagirl, and their friend Mupo (who has not been seen since the end of Aquaman’s comic, and never appears again), break Vulko out of prison.  Karshon’s lies are revealed to the Atlanteans, and he and Aquaman go head to head.

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With his deceptions exposed, Karshon drops his human form, and reveals himself to be the Shark, an old foe of Green Lantern.  Never saw that coming as a kid (partly because I had never heard of the Shark).  And though there are no obvious clues to it, Karshon did have a shark emblem on his outfit, and was always seen with one on the animals.  But that largely seemed symbolic of his character, rather than a clue to his identity.  The Shark had last appeared in Action Comics, fighting Superman.

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Aquaman defeats the Shark in a vicious battle, luring him to nuclear waste, which transforms him back into his animal form.  A bit of a guess on Aquaman’s part that that would succeed.  Nuclear waste transformed the Shark originally into his mutated form, and could just as easily have mutated him further, rather than “curing” him.

In the end, Vulko is placed on the throne, to Aquaman’s approval.

The Shark next appears a couple years down the road, in Adventure Comics once again.

There is also a brief scene with a man apparently claiming that Aqualad is his son, though that is intentionally misleading.  This storyline will continue over the next few months.

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 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.

 

Adventure 443 – Aquaman vs the Fisherman, and Seven Soldiers of Victory ends

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Aquaman did not have many recurring villains in his own comic, but Adventure 443  (Feb 76) brings back the Fisherman, a third-rater at best.  Still, the story, by Paul Levitz and David Michelinie, with art by Jim Aparo, is pretty good.

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Aquaman intercepts some people hunting a dolphin, but discovers that they are French police, and the dolphin is being used for heroin smuggling.  Following the animal, Aquaman discovers the Fisherman is running the operation.  This was the first appearance of the character since the 60s, and though he captures Aquaman, another long-unseen character frees him.

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Topo had not been used in an Aquaman story since issue 36 of his old book, but becomes a regular supporting character again with this issue.

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The kicker to the story comes only on its last page, as Aquaman is dethroned by vote of the council, and the mysterious Karshon becomes the new King of Atlantis.

 

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The conclusion of the Seven Soldiers of Victory saga, with art by Dick Dillin, is a bit of a let-down.  The team reconvenes, and Willie the Wisher sends a battery of beasts against them.

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They defeat the creatures, and make Willie feel bad for his actions simply by talking about it.  Willie makes himself disappear.  Well, that was easy.

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In the end we discover that the events were all made into a film, but no one believes it because no one remembers Willie – even though all the activity occurred not on Earth, but in the Land of Magic.  So why would anyone on Earth be aware of it anyway?

Still, most of  the original tales of the Seven Soldiers of Victory were similarly pretty weak, so this is simply on par with their published adventures.

As a team, the group never appears again, except in flashbacks, or in All-Star Squadron issues, set in the 1940s.  The story clearly takes place before the events in Justice League of America 100-102, as Wing is still alive.

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