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READ MY LIBRARY ENTRY 31: Diving into the Aquaman Archives Vol. 1 Head First!

After many delays and much hooing and hawing around, Max finally delves into Aquaman’s Silver Age adventures in The Aquaman Archives Vol. 1!  While the writers behind many of the stories are only loosely known, the artist is someone very special and one of the few female artists of the Silver Age!

Super-Fly Comics & Games’ plucky sidekick Max Lake has embarked on a journey to read his collection of DC & other comics! Join Max each week every Friday as he takes on his Library! Titles reviewed by this blog do not necessarily reflect what the store has in stock, but you can always email the store to special order something that you’ve seen here at superflycomics@gmail.com. You can also call Super-Fly at (937) 767-1445 or just ask someone at the store next time you’re there for special orders. You can read past entries of the blog here. Any questions or comments for Max should be sent to maxdlake@gmail.com or feel free to comment in the comments section below. Check out @maxdlake to follow Max on Twitter. The things Max writes do not necessarily reflect the views of Super-Fly Comics & Games, and Super-Fly Comics & Games is not responsible for what Max says—especially anything that bugs you.

 

Written 3/25/12

Today I worked all day working to earn money to pay Maureen back for her contribution for the Legion of Super Heroes action figures I ordered not even a couple days ago.  Fortunately, I was able to make a large dent in the debt to her I’ve incurred, and should have some more work to do in the next couple days.  Even cooler is that I’m working alongside one of my best pals, Loren, who almost left the area on another job.  Fortunately, things worked out so he didn’t leave and I was able to help him get work with me, so that’s great.

Unfortunately, it’s getting late and Maureen has her first day of school tomorrow after spring break, so I am under pressure to get to bed with my lovely lady to make sure she can sleep soundly and surely and wake up refreshed ready to tackle the day tomorrow.  Still, I was able to read a bit tonight (and just a bit) and have negotiated with Maureen to let me do a blog entry (and just a short blog entry) before bed.  Yes, I have finally begun my journey with Aquaman in The Aquaman Archives Volume 1.

Aquaman Archives Vol. 1

Aquaman’s one and only Archive Edition to date

It’s exciting to be reading this particular volume of Aquaman, not due to any particular writer, as many of the stories’ writers are unaccredited, written by a plethora of unknown writers, though they’ve narrowed it down to a group who were “known to be associated with Aquaman during this period,” which included:  Jack Miller, Robert Bernstein, George Kashdan and Bob Haney.

Why I’ve been excited to read this volume and bought it recently with tax returns is the artist of 95% of the volume, Ramona Fradon, one of the few female artists of the Silver Age.  Fradon drew most of Aquaman’s adventures up until the birth of her daughter Amy in 1960, co-created Aqualad and years later would co-create Metamoprho the Element Man and draw a few issues of his series.  She has also drawn for Marvel, including Fantastic Four and did additional work for DC including Freedom Fighters and nearly the entire run of the comic book version of Super Friends.  Later, Fradon took over the syndicated newspaper strip Brenda Starr from Dale Messick when he retired and worked on it till her retirement in 1995.  Pretty impressive resume I’d say!

After getting over some of the funny (to me anyway) titles to some of the stories in the volume (such as “Aquaman and his Sea-Police” and “Aqualad Goes to School”) is the introduction.  Roy Thomas does the intro, and it’s an interesting read, though the only thing I can think of relating is that until 1960, Aquaman had yellow gloves instead of green, and some of the tales in Aquaman Archives Volume 1 feature yellow-gloved Aquaman.  That and that Aquaman got a new origin in 1959 that has stuck to this day (or at least till the New 52 reboot; I don’t know what Aquaman’s origin is now or if it has changed…yet), which is where the volume begins.

The first story opens with the Navy doing atomic tests in the ocean.  Aquaman is just beneath the surface and works fast using his aquatic telepathy to gather fishy friends to help him disarm the nuclear depth charges.  The captain of the naval sub is a little peeved with Aquaman, but Aquaman insists the Navy go elsewhere for their tests.  The captain is not persuaded, so Aquaman tells him the secret of how he got his powers.

Aquaman meets the Navy

“It’s clear enough, commander! YOU’RE NUKING MY FRICKING OCEAN! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?”

Essentially, Aquaman’s father was a lighthouse keeper named Tom Curry, who sees a woman being tossed around in the waves yet somehow surviving and pulls her to safety.  Her name is Atlanna, and the two eventually fall in love, get married and Atlanna gives birth to a son, Arthur.  Much to Tom’s surprise, Arthur can swim like a fish as an infant, and when he falls overboard and disappears for an hour, Tom finds Arthur at the bottom of the sea playing with sea turtles and wonders why his son hasn’t drowned. 

Baby Aquaman can't drown!

Better question for Aquaman’s dad: Why didn’t you look for your son an HOUR ago?

Atlanna remains mum on the topic, until she is on her deathbed and reveals she is from Atlantis and their son has the potential to be King of the Seven Seas.  After she dies, Tom begins training Arthur by putting him in a tank of swordfish and commanding his son to control them—talk about trial by fire! Arthur does so by instinct, and then starts introducing himself to every creature in the sea, befriending them.

Kid Aquaman Can't Fail!

Another example of Aquaman’s Dad’s poor parenting. Luckily the Aquatic Telepathy works out for the young Sea King.

Flashing back to the present, the naval captain still is confused as to why he can’t bomb the hell out of the part of the ocean that Aquaman doesn’t want him to touch.  Aquaman whispers a secret to him, and then the captain backs off, promising Aquaman no one will come near the area in question and the sub departs.  Aquaman swims back underwater, revealing the secret he told the captain: underneath the water is the fabled city ofAtlantis, where his mother came from.

“Perhaps, some day…I will return here.  Who knows?” Thinks Aquaman.
Of course, comics nerds like me know!  Aquaman eventually will come to rule Atlantis.  But those are stories for another night… My time tonight has come to a close.  More tomorrow I hope!

Aquaman saves Atlantis

Aquaman may have always been King of the Seven Seas, but not always King of Atlantis. Either way though, most of his subjects are fish.

NOTES FROM NOW (9/16/12): Apologies for the rough scans. It’s really hard to scan Archive Editions well. Hopefully they’re still readable enough.

This first story was really cool and a great introduction to Aquaman’s Silver Age adventures.  Unfortunately (yet kind of fortunately as I’ll explain in an upcoming entry) things get pretty silly from here on out.  Yet no matter how goofy things get, Ramona Fradon’s art remains consistent and high quality.

It’s great because Cartoon Network just did a Robot Chicken DC Comics Special.  It was pretty funny; a lot of it revolved around Aquaman and how he gets no respect from the rest of the Justice League, super villains, or anyone really.  The Silver Age stories coming up here at the Read My Library blog are the foundation of Aquaman’s reputation of a lame hero.  Buckle up.

Past entries of the Read My Library Blog

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