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READ MY LIBRARY ENTRY 60: Worn out from C2E2, it’s a Look Back at Aquaman: Time & Tide!

Aquaman Time & Tide

Max and the rest of the Super-Fly crew are back from their adventures at C2E2 2014 in Chicago!!!  However, they’re a little “conned out” and worn out too!  Running too close to a deadline, Max takes the easy way out yet again and dips into the unpublished RMLB archives for another “lost” entry for another Aquaman graphic novel, this time Aquaman: Time & Tide by legendary comics scribe Peter David.  Get wet behind the ears and dive into this short but sweet story from the early 1990s!  It’s more Aqua-history right here at the RMLB!

Super-Fly Comics & Games’ plucky sidekick Max Lake has embarked on a journey to read his collection of comics! Join Max every Thursday 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. Comments are currently closed, though we’re looking into a new way to do comments so stay tuned. Check out @maxdlake to follow Max on Twitter. Most entries deal with Max re-capping what he’s read in detail, so be aware that there is a SPOILER WARNING for this and all entries, though Max usually leaves out the big spoilers/shockers/moments and leaves those for the reader to discover. 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.

 

Hey all you Super-Flyers and Fly-Hards out there!  I’ve freshly returned from Chicago along with the entire Super-Fly away team of Tony, Jared (who also served as C2E2’s DJ again!), Travis, Gavin, Bryan Hawke, myself and Jack and what a weekend of C2E2 insanity it was!  I’m hoping to do a write up about the show and soon too, but since I’ve been home, I’ve been pretty worn out and only started unpacking yesterday with a lot of my time catching up with family and rest.

I was hoping to get a lot of writing done when I got home, and was planning (for the second time) to do an entry on the fabulous Axe Cop series, starting with the first TPB, but (for the second time) I didn’t get around to writing it (or anything) before it became dreadfully close to my bedtime before my deadline.  So, although I hate to do it again so soon, I ended up dipping into the unpublished archives of the RMLB again to dig out an entry I could get up quickly and painlessly.  Once again, it’s about Aquaman, but it should serve as a nice follow up to the recent entry about Aquaman: Death of a Prince, as it’s chronologically the “next” Aquaman graphic novel available (though they are over a decade apart in real time) and though they are totally not related story wise, Time & Tide revisits some of the same themes as Death of a Prince.

By next week, I should totally have new material up and ready to go, whether it be about Axe Cop, C2E2 2014 (though it might take longer than just a week; I have to unload and format all my pictures along with formulate all my thoughts!), or something else entirely.  In the meantime, enjoy this look back at Aquaman in the 1990s as told by Peter David.  With Aquaman now popular enough to sustain two series, a look back at his storied (and varied, depending who’s telling it!) history can’t be all bad, right?

Enjoy, and see you in the “Notes From Now” section!

 

5/18/12

 

Well, I’m going to the doctor today and to get there I hitched a ride with Maureen to her university and am just chilling in the school’s library to work on the blog while she is in class.  By the time she is finished, it will be close to the time of my doctor’s appointment and we will be halfway there, so we’re saving gas and giving me a good opportunity to work.

After the MASSIVE volume that is Aquaman Death of a Prince, my two remaining Aquaman books are relatively short and I won’t be surprised if I get through both of them today.  The first one up is Aquaman Time and Tide written by Peter David and drawn by Kirk Jarvinen and inked by Brad Vancata and I breezed through it, as it collects the four issue mini-series of the same name that came out in 1993.  Apparently, the mini-series came out between one Aquaman  series by Shaun McLaughlin and Ken Hooper and another one by Peter David.  Apparently, the changes David made to the Aquaman mythos merited a whole new series.

Yes, there are some changes to Aquaman’s story here.  Being a comic nerd, I am a little distrustful of some of the things David did over the old material, but of course if the New 52 has taught us anything is that heroes constantly need to be re-invented.  The biggest change is that Aquaman’s mother Atlanna did not marry light house keeper Arthur Curry, but instead conceived Aquaman with an undersea wizard of dubious origin.  Apparently, Arthur Curry still did adopt Aquaman later, but not before he was raised underwater by dolphins.  But now I feel I’m getting ahead of myself…

The first issue/chapter of Time and Tide is Aquaman reading the Atlantis Chronicles, a history penned by his mother Atlanna, and it is here he learns of his supposed mysterious father.  Aquaman decides to continue the Atlantis Chronicles with his own exploits and starts off by recounting the time he first was called a hero.  It all starts when the Flash villain Trickster robs a yacht and Flash comes after him in pursuit.  Aquaman also comes to the surface to see what all the commotion is about and ends up saving Flash from a school of sharks.  Totally distrusting surface dwellers, Aquaman doesn’t know what to make of Flash, and the two face off in (apparently) an underwater cave (perhaps the earliest Aquacave?).  Flash convinces Aquaman that he’s a good guy and the Trickster is a bad guy, and he thinks Aquaman is more good than bad.  Aquaman grudgingly agrees, and the pair set off after the escaping Trickster.  Long story short, they capture Trickster, Aquaman is given the key to the city, is dubbed “Aquaman” by Flash due to the “A” on his belt (though Aquaman insists it’s not an “A” but a “c’ha” sound) and the public swarms over him.  This just ticks Aquaman off who tries to leave, but is interrupted by the suddenly escaped Trickster, who annoys Aquaman enough to punch him out.  Aquaman then warns the adoring public to leave him alone or he’ll punch them.  Temper, temper Aquaman!

Aquaman MAD

Aquaman takes out the Trickster, and then gets pissy with everybody!

The next chapter deals with Aquaman being raised by dolphins.  This was pretty interesting, as the dolphins, as well as some sharks seen in the last chapter actually “talk” to Aquaman now, with word balloons and everything.  Aquaman just speaks their language, literally “talking” to fish instead of just the telepathy seen so many times before.  While he is dead weight to the school of dolphins at first, Aquaman must learn to swim, catch fish, and eventually learn that he is not a dolphin.  He is actually told by his “mother” dolphin that he can’t court a female dolphin in the pack because he is not like their kind—yikes!  Tragic events occur that make Aquaman realize he is not a sea creature but more of a man and he strikes out on his own, forever owing dolphins a debt of gratitude.  I have to say I really kind of dig the “fish talk” as it gives some meaning to Aquaman’s interactions with his fishy friends, though not having read many Aquaman comics I have no idea if Peter David initiated this device or it was done by a previous writer.  Still, it’s pretty cool.

Aquakid in LOVE!!!

Aquaman as an adolescent tries to “sleep with the fishes…” YUCK!!!

The next chapter deals with Aquaman’s time in Alaska, and here it seems that Peter David was setting the stage of the run he would do on the Aquaman series that followed Time and Tide.  Here Aquaman is still young, prior to his time as a hero or even his orange scaled suit, and is apparently just passing through Alaska when a young Inupiat (or Eskimo if you prefer) woman is attacked by a polar bear she was trying to hunt.  Aquaman and the woman are just barely able to kill the bear, and then the woman, whose name is Kako, takes Aquaman back to her village to heal.  Her grandfather distrusts the white man and his modern ways, but cannot turn away a man who saved Kako, so he lets Aquaman stay.  Upon healing, Aquaman and Kako become friends and even lovers, which enrages another Inupiat, Orm.  Aquaman wakes from a bout of lovemaking to find Kako cut and injured, and he must take on the fingerless seahag Nuliajuk in the surreal realm of dreams for Kako’s life.  When Aquaman and Kako awake, Aquaman reveals to Kako’s families the visions he had in his dreams, thinking them to be just that.  Kako’s grandfather freaks out about Nuliajuk telling Aquaman she never forgets an enemy and then he has a heart attack.  Aquaman is then driven from the village.  From the introduction Peter David did, it seems likely that both Nuliajuk and Kako appeared again in his run on Aquaman, so this is just a snapshot of things that were to come.  It works as a standalone story, as it’s a memory Aquaman has, though it would be cool to see what happened later.  In David’s introduction, he wishes DC would collect more of his Aquaman stuff, though this came out in 1995, so it doesn’t seem likely.  Maybe with Aquaman’s newfound popularity there will be more collections?  Either that or it looks like I’m going to have to collect some Aquaman back issues.  As if I don’t have enough comics to read…

The final “chapter” of Time and Tide deals with Aquaman’s first encounter with his half-brother Ocean Master AKA Orm, the angry member of the Inupiat tribe that cut up Kako.  Of course, when they first meet, Aquaman has no idea who Ocean Master is, and when Ocean Master demands the become King of the Seas, Aquaman basically laughs him off, telling him that he should swim around the world’s oceans, meet sea creatures, and become King of the Seas in his own way.  Ocean Master gets ticked, and lets Aquaman know he plans to take the throne of Atlantis through a duel to the death with him.  Aquaman breaks Ocean Master’s weapons, beats him up, and (this is my favorite part) LETS OCEAN MASTER GET AWAY!!!  Hilariously, both Mera and Aqualad freak out about this, and yell at Aquaman for doing this.  After seeing how well that went for Aquaman in Death of a Prince, I couldn’t help but laugh at this.  Recounting this adventure for the Atlantis Chronicles, even Aquaman ponders what the hell he was thinking at the time, attributing it to arrogance, confidence or just pity he felt for the supposedly inept Ocean Master.

Aquaman lets badguy go...Again!!!

Mera and Aqualad freak out as, once again, Aquaman lets a murderous enemy go free!

Since Time and Tide is kind of a retcon, the previous adventures of Death of a Prince probably didn’t happen, and at the time this event occurs, Arthur Curry Jr. is still alive and well.  What’s more, in David’s introduction, he seems to indicate it’s Ocean Master who will return to kill lil’ Aquababy Arthur Jr., though without reading Peter David’s Aquaman run I can’t say for sure (another reason to track down the back issues I suppose).  If that’s the case, it’s almost too funny to be true, seeing as how *Aquaman let Black Manta get away one time only to have Manta go on to kill Arthur Jr. in Aquaman Death of a Prince.  However, the Atlantians don’t have to wait for Arthur Jr.’s murder before they hear from Ocean Master again, as shortly after Aquaman’s first encounter with him, Ocean Master returns with a submarine and fires torpedoes at Atlantis’ protective dome.  Aquaman and Aqualad save Atlantis, but get captured.  In Ocean Master’s typical villain catches the hero and then gives a revealing speech moment, he reveals he attacked Kako way back when, and that his mother was seduced by some “undersea wizard.”  It’s only as Aquaman writes this part down in his Atlantis Chronicles that he realizes that Ocean Master is his half-brother!

Now I don’t know how the Ocean Master as half-brother to Aquaman started back in the day, but apparently, as Peter David recounts in his intro, their brotherly bond was written out of continuity in the one shot Legend of Aquaman.  David wanted to restore this, since he feels it is an essential part of Aquaman’s cannon (I agree! There are many great Aquaman stories with this aspect across comics and even other mediums) and therefore the undersea wizard comes about tying the two together.  I suppose before this retcon, Atlanna must have been the same parent to Ocean Master Orm and Aquaman Arthur Curry—kind of interesting.  Anyway, Aquaman, Aqualad and Mera end up destroying Ocean Master’s sub, and he escapes leaving his men to drown in a nasty villain move, which looks pretty creepy.

Speaking of looks, the art to Time and Tide is quite interesting.  Kirk Jarvenin and Brad Vancata have a somewhat exaggerated style that looks neat and tidy yet comes across quite cartoony.  Again from Peter David’s introduction, he thought the art was a perfect fit, as it was evocative of Aquaman’s Golden and Silver Age roots.  I say maybe to that, but agree that the look fits the tale.  One aesthetic thing to note in regard to these stories is that Aquaman has long hair (at least the modern Aquaman writing the Atlantis Chronicles does), a holdover from Shaun McLaughlin and Ken Hooper’s Aquaman series.  David reveals that Ken Hooper actually based his visual interpretation of Aquaman on Kevin Coster, “…years before Waterworld was ever made.  Talk about fate,” brags David.  Huh.  I see.  Longtime comics readers know that the long hair would remain as Aquaman would sprout a beard and lose a hand only to gain a replacement hook, but sadly I don’t have any Aquaman collections from that era of the hero.  I’m not even 100% any TPBs from that time exist (a quick search on Amazon seems to indicate there doesn’t seem to be).

Aquaman Time and Tide is a short ride, giving just brief looks into key moments of Aquaman’s past and only four issues worth at that.  Like I said before, I’m not completely won over by some of the changes David did, but they are functional and help reduce the baggage of collecting and reading a bunch of the old stuff (like I’m doing).  However, Peter David’s Aquaman intrigues me and I almost want to read a bit more of his stuff—and I have never picked up any Aquaman back issues to date, other than his New 52 #1.  Time and Tide sows some seeds that merit checking out, so now I at least have some new back issues to look for at cons.  So Aquaman Time and Tide is enticing as it is short, and just under $10, it’s pretty cheap too.  I certainly don’t regret picking it up and really want some more Aquaman to read.  It looks like those three Showcase Presents Aquaman volumes are in my future, along with some back issues…

In fact, I only owned one Aquaman trade before this project and now I have four books featuring him, most bought solely for the purpose of reading for this blog.  I like the character a bit more than I have before, and if Death of a Prince and Time and Tide have taught me anything, it’s that there are good Aquaman stories to be told.  I did come to appreciate the character a fair amount already after reading Grant Morrison’s run on JLA and Geoff Johns’ portrayal in the new series, but reading stories starring solely Aquaman and his supporting cast have really made me appreciate Aquaman.

But what’s this?  Why am I talking about Aquaman as if I’m done with him when I still have one book to go?  Well, it’s tricky… You see, the three books I’ve covered so far all feature the original Aquaman, Arthur Curry.  The next book up, Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis features a completely different Aquaman, named…Arthur Joseph Curry.  O-kay.  I wish I could explain it now dear readers, but here even your comic nerd author is a bit stumped about how the two characters relate to one another, or don’t.  You see, I haven’t read Sword of Atlantis before and never really got how the different Aquaman character fit into the DCU when he appeared a few years ago.  I remember reading DC bigwig Dan DiDio talking about the original Aquaman a few times during that period, once saying he turned into a monster, another time saying he was dead, and dead he stayed for a while…Until Brightest Day that is.  But again, how the new/different Aquaman fits in I just don’t know, so I guess I better get cracking on Sword of Atlantis and maybe hit up Wikipedia to help make sense of it.  Luckily, Sword of Atlantis is written by one of my very favorite comic authors, Kurt Busiek, so I’m almost positive there will be a rational explanation in there somewhere!

While I had high hopes of getting through more than one book today, I only ended up having enough time to read and write about Aquaman Time and Tide.  I saw the doctor, who told me I may have pneumonia(!) and got a chest X-Ray to find out just what’s going on with my poor lungs.  The doc also prescribed some allergy meds and nose spray, and pending the results of the X-Ray, I may get antibiotics.  I just hope it’s nothing serious.  Until I hear from the doctor’s tomorrow, I’ll try not to worry so much and start in on Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis sometime after dinner.  We’re having Tony over for a late dinner this evening because Super-Fly’s weekly Magic: the Gathering tournament was packed bigger than ever tonight!  I hope he gets here soon; I’m hungry!

Catch you all later!

NOTES FROM NOW (5/1/14): I’m sure it’s been like Aquaman overload for this blog for you all, but if you remember, I was trying to do this thorough a job with every character I covered, from Captain Atom (in Action Heroes Archives Vols. 1 & 2), to Adam Strange, to Animal Man on down the alphabetical list before it all became too boring and repetitive and DC-centric for me to continue down that path any longer.  I still have Aquaman entries yet to come, but at least I’m sprinkling them in when I’m stuck at the last minute and can’t get anything else up opposed to doing them every week without any alternatives.

Aquaman: Time & Tide is a really interesting book.  Interesting in that it is really different than past Aquaman tales and a totally different direction for the character’s origins, but it does tell a cool story and some cool devices, like the “talking to fish” and neat aspects like the Inupiat tribe and Orm being a part of that.  I have to say, I prefer the classic stuff, and with the New 52, everything was all retconned again, but this was a cool little book regardless.  I like Peter David’s writing for the most part, and I found this pretty charming, enough to want to hunt down some of the back issues.  I’ve looked for some, but haven’t had too much luck in finding many, but it will be interesting to tackle some of them down the line, maybe even in the RMLB at some point (like I need to do more Aquaman in here!).

Again, I’ll do my best to have something new and relevant for next week, so stay tuned for that!

Past entries of the Read My Library Blog

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