First Published: February 2007
Contents: Aquaman stories from Adventure Comics #260 (May 1959) to #280 (January 1961), #282 (March 1961) and #284 (May 1961); Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #12 (October 1959); Showcase #30 (January-February 1961) to #33 (July-August 1961); Aquaman stories from Detective Comics #293 (July 1961) to #300 (February 1962); Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #55 (September 1961); Aquaman stories from World’s Finest Comics #125 (May 1962) to #129 (November 1962); and Aquaman #1 (January-February 1962) to #6 (November-December 1962)
Key Creator Credits: Ramona Fradon, Robert Bernstein, Jack Miller, Nick Cardy,
Key First Appearances: Tom Curry, Atlanna, Aqualad, Quisp
Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Aquaman Vol. 2
Overview: Meet Aquaman, King of the Seven Seas. Able to breathe underwater, use his telepathic ability to summon and direct sea life, and super strong, Aquaman serves as the protector against crime above and below the water surface.
This volume begins with Aquaman working solo, but with a loyal companion in Topo, an octopus. But every good DC hero needs a teen sidekick to work alongside, or be placed into harm’s way, or just used to help advance a story through dialogue. Enter Aqualad, a boy exiled from Atlantis, and a seafaring duo are formed, one so strong that no wife or child could ever split them up, right? Right?
Following in the tradition of Mr. Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite, Aquaman is blessed by his own annoying imp with magical powers known as Quisp. Quisp means to help Aquaman and Aqualad out with their adventures, but most times ends up causing more trouble.
Why should these stories be Showcased?: This is a hard collection to get through. As I have noted time and time again with comics from this era, the Silver Age stories are very much a product of their times and do not stand up when reading today. The stories seem simple, with more holes in the plot than a sunken pirate ship. The art is serviceable – Ramona Fradon and Nick Cardy each had long (and much better) runs with other DC characters. If you are going to read this book, do not try to read it straight through. Read a story or two, and then put it down for a day before resuming. You’ll thank me later.
Origin Stories: Aquaman is one of the five characters that has been in publication since their debut in the 1930s/1940s; the others are Superman, Batman (and Robin), Wonder Woman, and Green Arrow. The Golden Age Aquaman had no ties to Atlantis and gained his powers from experiments that his parents conducted on him. With the Golden Age characters being assigned to Earth-2, and there being no Earth-2 counterpart to Topo, it is generally recognized that the Earth-1 (Silver Age) Aquaman started in Adventure Comics #229 (October 1956), which is the first appearance of Topo.
Now, this Showcase Presents begins with Adventure Comics #260 (May 1959), 2 1/2 years after the “debut” of the Earth-1 Aquaman. Issue #260 features the new origin of Aquaman, where he is the son of lighthouse keeper Tom Curry and Atlantean princess Atlanna. This appears to be the first issue that connects Aquaman with Atlantis, so it appears to be a good starting point for this Showcase collection. This also matches the starting point used for the Aquaman Archives that DC released in 2003.
Footnotes: Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #12 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Superman Family Vol. 3.
If you like this volume, try: the relaunched Aquaman series by Geoff Johns. While I personally did not care for a lot of relaunches in the new DC 52 universe, the take on Aquaman was much better than many previous incarnations. Geoff Johns had a two-year run on the book, with artists such as Ivan Reis, Paul Pelletier, and others. Aquaman’s history was tweaked, making him a member of a group called The Others prior to his joining the Justice League. These issues have been collected in multiple hardcovers and trade paperbacks, and I expect DC to collect Johns’ entire run into an omnibus at some point.
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