Aquaman #59. 1977.
Well, I’m about convinced that the perfect number of stories for your standard 18-or-so-page comic book is one. This doesn’t necessarily apply to the horror anthologies, although I think in that case, the fewer stories, the better. But I’m saying a typical superhero comic needs the entire book to present a well developed interesting story. What happens when there’s two stories is the feature story gets cut short just as it gets rolling, and the “bonus” story never gets rolling at all. That’s what happened to Aquaman in this issue. However, I will say that both these stories are pure action from start to finish. So what we’re missing is a bit of variety in pacing and tone of the stories. They are basically nonstop grumpy/whiny action from start to finish.
This story starts with Aquaman being fired on by the NATO navy. Turns out they were just warning shots as the navy wants him out of this particular area of the ocean. As Aquaman boards the navy ship to discuss things, a giant squid, under direction of Aquaman, grabs the captain to make sure everyone realizes just who they’re dealing with (king of the freaking seas, that’s who). While they’re arguing,
a giant waterspout booms out of the ocean dead ahead in the path of the ship. Falling debris from the waterspout damages the ship’s rudder, leaving everyone on board heading toward eminent death. Aquaman heads beneath the surface to investigate, leaving behind some helpful whales, and a snotty remark.
At the source of the waterspout Aquaman find the Fisherman and his goons overseeing the reclamation of a sunken ship. The waterspout of rocks and debris was caused by the device they’re using to dig it out. Aquaman starts bossing everyone around. He doesn’t know what’s on the ship, but he figures if it’s in the ocean, it must belong to him. There’s a brief underwater fight, during which an explosion causes the ship to tip off the ledge it is sitting on. Aquaman sends a giant squid to catch it before it plunges into the depths. But it’s too much for the squid. The fisherman isn’t happy, and he yells at Aquaman for losing the ship.
Then swoosh, up it comes. But how? Because it is now in the possession of The Scavenger who somehow grabbed it with his giant scavenging submarine. The Scavenger and Aquaman somehow have an extended conversation about the rightful owner of the wreck even though The Scavenger is in the sub and Aquaman outside it in the water. Aquaman once again demands possession of the ship. Scrapper just zaps him, laughs, and drives away with the ship.
At this point it seems that Aquaman is more the kind of guy who likes to act like he’s the boss of the seven seas, even if he’s pretty ineffectual. The Scavenger drives on, and Aquaman just shakes his fist. Where are your whales and giant squids now big guy? I guess I’ll chalk it up to the fact that the king of the seas is going through some tough times–his son is dead and his wife has left him. But it seems like he’s kind of a bossy jerk. And it comes back to bite him when I needs help going after The Scavenger.
Also, there are a couple of panels about some diplomat being kidnapped. But that’s never addressed again in the story.
The other story could be titled “Meanwhile . . .” It deals with Aquaman’s wife, Mera, having traveled back to her homeworld to retrieve a device that will revive her dead son. I’m not familiar with Mera, but I like her. She’s got spunk. The villain sends a big goon after her and asks if she’s tough enough to do what she’s come to do. Her response . . .
Thwack! The whole story is basically a hard water fight between her and the man who has the device. But not the kind of hard water that keeps you from getting suds in the shower. This hard water is more like what comes from Green Lantern’s ring. She and her opponent fight each other with giant blue fists and birdcages and such.
And while it seems to be a physical fight, it’s really and battle if the will and mind. So when Mera defeats her opponent, she accidentally shatters his mind. And you guessed it. He’s the only one who knew where the magic medical device was. Ohhhhhh snap!
Both these stories were pretty much nonstop action. And I’ll bet they’re setting up a pretty sweet story. But, again, if we didn’t have the Mera story in this book, we’d have time to not just set up a good story, but maybe to wrap it up satisfyingly as well.
Finally, it’s not hard to see Aquaman as a bossy douche in this book. As I said earlier, he’s going through a hard time. But dude, chill. Ask a question now and then rather that issuing orders like a nerdy kid with the power of a hall monitor badge. And while I don’t want to raise the ire if the Aquaman apologists, King of the Seas, stop yelling at everyone and do something. Action, not words. You’re wife kicked more butt in her short story than you did in your long one. Ok, I guess Aquaman got on my nerves a little as well. But I wish him luck in his future endeavors, and hope things get better for him.