Posts tagged ‘Topo’

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

tec_294_008

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

tec_294_009

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.

tec_294_010

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

tec_294_011

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.

tec_294_012

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.

tec_294_013

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

 

 

Advertisements

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

tec_293

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.”

tec_293_001

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.

tec_293_002

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.

tec_293_003

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.

tec_293_004

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

tec_293_005

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.

tec_293_006

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.

Adventure 475 – Aquaman begins, again, for the fifth time, and Starman battles to restore the Empress

Adv_475

Aquaman returns to the pages of Adventure with issue 475 (Sept 80), joining Starman and Plastic Man. All the regular sized comics in the DC line gain 8 extra pages, most often corresponding to the addition of a back-up series.  This marks the fifth separate run of Aquaman in the pages of Adventure, his series moving back from World’s Finest Comics.

Adv_475_001

Jean-Marc DeMatteis and Dick Giordano take the reigns of Aquaman as his series moves here.  Part of the plot of this story continues from the pages of World’s Finest Comics, his pursuit of some ancient Atlantean machinery.

Mera wakes with a feverish illness, and Aquaman heads out to get help, but is distracted by Topo, who leads him to the machines.

Adv_475_002

There he winds up in battle with an old foe, the Scavenger, who had not been seen since the brief revival of Aquaman’s book in the 70s.  Although Aquaman bests the Scavenger, the machines are destroyed by the villain, so no one can have them.

Adv_475_003

Meanwhile, Mera’s illness gets worse, and she has a really touching sequence in which she hallucinates about her dead son.  She collapses, and by the time Aquaman returns, she has disappeared.

This is the final appearance of the Scavenger pre-Crisis, as well as Topo, who had not been seen since the issue of Adventure in which Arthur Jr died.

Adv_475_004

It’s all-out war in this chapter of the Starman saga, by Paul Levitz, Steve Ditko and Romeo Tanghal.  Clryssa pardons two of the prisoners from Asryx, who join with Jediah Rikane as they lead one attack against Lord Protector Oswin and his men, while Starman transports the Empress and Lady Merria to the throne room.

Adv_475_005

Still unaware that Starman is really her brother Gavyn, Clryssa promises to share the throne with him.  A nicely ironic touch.

Despite the ending of the last issue, in which Mn’torr confronted Oswin, there is no sign of the man in this tale, although Oswin makes brief reference it.  Only on the last page do we get a confirmation that things did not go well for Mn’torr.

Adv_475_006

Oswin now has Mn’torr staff, a powerful weapon in and of itself, and has no fear of Starman or the returned Empress.

 

Adventure 452 – Aquaman ends with a shocking death

Adv_452

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.

Adv_452_001

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.

Adv_452_002

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.

Adv_452_003

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.

Adv_452_004

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.

Adv_452_005

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

Adv_451

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.

Adv_451_001

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

Adv_451_002

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.

Adv_451_003

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.

Adv_451_004

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.

Adv_451_005

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.

Adv_451_006

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

Adv_445___Aquaman

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

Adv_445___Aquaman_001

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.

Adv_445___Aquaman_002

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.

Adv_445__Creeper

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.

Adv_445___Creeper

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

Adv_443___Aquaman

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.

Adv_443___Aquaman_001

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.

Adv_443___Aquaman_002

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.

Adv_443___Aquaman_003

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.

 

Adv_443___SSoV

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.

Adv_443___SSoV_001

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.

Adv_443___SSoV_002

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.

Tag Cloud