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He’s outdone himself in uselessness – Aquaman #37

August 4, 2011

Before I start pummeling the ever-loving crap out of Aquaman, I have to once again admire a Nick Cardy cover. His interior art is solid, but the stuff he did for the outside was always nothing short of eye-catching. This certainly ranks as one of his better efforts. The undersea landscape bereft of water, a helpless Mera, the exposed underwater landscape and hapless sea-creatures (check out the forlorn octopus next to Mera’s noggin) all fuse together to make this a doozy. It seems that Cardy’s Aquaman covers always seem to work better when Mera is involved. Perhaps her deep red hair sets off the color palette.

Enough praise. Time for the semi-regular kicking of Aquaman’s ass.

Just to reiterate my general stance on the character — I want so badly for Aquaman for work. My harsh criticisms are tough love. He’s an underdog, the butt of everyone’s jokes. We should pull for him for that reason alone.

The last time we checked in for an Arthur-centric tale, we saw our champion bailed out by the spritely Quisp and only belatedly doing anything remotely heroic. How about this time? Has he made any improvements to his game in the 30 issues since that previous installment?

Let’s check.

We really get off on the wrong fin in this Bob Haney-scripted story, as Aquaman attempts to give life-lessons to Aquababy:

Okay, I’ll be the one to say it. Aquaman should be the LAST person to ever look down on anything “sissy.” Incidentally, can you still say sissy? Is it now synonymous with — and therefore as clearly unacceptable as — “fag” and “queer”? Can we still say “wuss?”?

An inauspicious beginning, to say the least.

The horseplay gets a tad dangerous when Aquababy spins away and starts heading for a mean looking rock. Aqualad goes to rescue him, but is beaten to the punch by an unlikely savior:

*Gasp* The Ocean Master!

Aquaman steps in and there’s much bellowing and thumping of chests as these two unwitting half-brothers (they’re like Speed and Racer X in some ways, I guess) act like underwater apes. Yes, they try to solve their dispute in that manliest (non-sissy) of ways, a brawl:

They’re interrupted before this can turn into an underwater Quiet Man by goo and pockets of air that are invading the sea:

Who’s behind this? Some dude called the Scavenger, who’s after an alien device called the Time Decelerator, which will make him immortal:

Aquaman does not take kindly to being bossed around and threatened, so he acts as any great hero would — he has others do his dirty work for him. Whales batter the Scavenger’s ship and rays zap its hull:

All these efforts are laughed off, and the Scavenger gives Aquaman an ultimatum — cough up the Time Decelerator or the entire ocean will be destroyed. All well and good, but Aquaman has no idea where this bit of tech is. So much for the master of the seas bit.

When the Scavenger heads off to let Aquaman stew, the Ocean Master tails this new villain (it’s implied that they’ve worked together before). He gets bested as well (runs in the family), and Aquaman proposes an alliance when he finds his prone enemy:

“Rotting gigantically”? Was anyone proof-reading these things?

They form a (reluctant) team and split up to pursue different avenues of attack. The Scavenger has taken refuge in one of the air pockets (and taken Mera and Aquababy hostage in the meantime), so Aquaman summons some creatures that can crawl to help in the attack:

Aquaman, once again, fails miserably, despite the cheering of his family:

Thank God for the Ocean Master, because at least he has a plan. He’s found the Time Decelerator, which he uses to goad the Scavenger out of his impregnable ship, and he’s also rigged it with a bomb. It’ll also kill Aquaman’s wife and child (hey, you can’t win ’em all) and this does not sit well:

The Scavenger uses the Decelerator, but it backfires on him (big surprise), first regressing him to a child and then into nothingness:

Aquaman has (not at all) saved the day!:

Let’s recap. Aquaman doesn’t want his son to grow up to be a sissy/gay. His fish telepathy is useless in the water. It’s also useless outside of the water. He has to form a partnership with a mortal enemy. His heightened strength can’t pry open a metal ship. He doesn’t check this issue’s big bad AT ALL, and said villain is only done in by his own actions. But hey, at least he didn’t kill the Ocean Master when he was unconscious and helpless.

I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.

Maybe from now on I should just admire the cover and never take the damn thing out of the sleeve. Yeah. That sounds good.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. neill permalink
    August 8, 2011 6:24 pm

    This was the first Aquaman I ever saw (aside from the then current cartoon show). Yeah, immensely intense Cardy cover. THis was all too typical of DC then–fantastic, enticing covers with often poor interior art and always ridiculous dialogue and plots.

    • August 12, 2011 2:01 pm

      The innards of Silver Age Aquaman books are definitely some of the worst offenders. Drudgery.

  2. Marcus permalink
    May 18, 2014 9:03 pm

    Yould you do a review from this aquaman comic book in which we see Aquaman throw a bear at poachers from the cover. I always believed that, for all the terrible stories that has been written about him during Silver Age, this cover couldn’t make him look more awesome.

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