First Published: January 2008
Contents: Aquaman #24 (November-December 1965) to #39 (May-June 1968); The Brave and the Bold #73 (August-September 1967); and Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #115 (October 1968)
Key Creator Credits: Nick Cardy, Bob Haney, and others
Key First Appearances: Ocean Master, Tula/Aquagirl, Black Manta, Vulko, Scavenger
Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Aquaman Vol. 2
Overview: Here we are with Showcase Presents Aquaman Vol. 3, or as I like to think of it, Showcase Presents Aquaman Family Vol. 1. In the same ways that characters like Superman and Batman developed a supporting cast, many of whom had identities starting with the words “super” or “bat”, Aquaman finds himself in a similar situation with his supporting cast. We’ve had Aqualad for years, and the last volume gave us Aquababy. Now with this collection, we get Aquagirl to give Aqualad someone to hang out with. And much like some of the Superman Family- or Batman Family-type issues of the era, we are treated to some ho-hum issues of the Aquaman Family working together to solve some undersea calamity.
In addition to Aquagirl, we are finally introduced to Vulko, an Atlantean who would become Aquaman’s trusted advisor. Vulko has become a mainstay in Aquaman comics for many years – whether bringing Arthur up to speed after a long absence from Atlantis or sitting on the throne as king when Aquaman finds himself ousted from his home.
But the highlight of this collection is the completion of Aquaman’s Rogues Gallery. The two villains most associated with Aquaman make their first appearance in these issues. We find out that Ocean Master is Arthur’s half-brother, which creates a new set of struggles for Aquaman, who has very little blood relatives in his life. It’s hard to love your family when they are trying to kill you every other issue! We also meet Black Manta, an angry man that wants nothing more than to take down Aquaman. Both of these foes have become mainstays not only in Aquaman’s universe but in the DC Universe proper. Another minor villain is introduced in the Scavenger. Truthfully, you probably have read stories featuring Scavenger. He’s just not that memorable of a character.
This majority of this collection is written by Bob Haney and art by Nick Cardy, two names that are very synonymous with 1960s DC Comics. We do get a rare non-Batman issue of The Brave and the Bold, as Aquaman teams up with his fellow Justice League member, the Atom.
Why should these stories be Showcased?: This is a hit-and-miss collection for me. When the stories are good, they are great! Some of these issues make me believe that Aquaman could be a top-tier character. But then you get a not-so-good story, and those sink to the bottom faster than the Titanic. It’s almost like they found an unused script from a few years prior and decided to run with it. I’m not trying to bash those issues. I’m sure someone out there really enjoyed them.
If you like this volume, try: the Aquaman: Death of the Prince trade paperback from 2011. OK, as of the writing of this post, DC has not released a Showcase Presents Aquaman Vol. 4, which is a huge shame! Beginning with issue #40, Jim Aparo took over as the series artist, providing a new definitive look to Aquaman and his family. The series ran until #56 in the early 1970s. In the mid-1970s, the series resumed with issue #57, and kicked things up a notch, as evidenced by this trade paperback title. The Aquaman title ran until #63 (thanks DC Implosion!), but Aquaman’s story continued in the pages of Adventure Comics. As I noted in my review for Volume 2, Aquaman was one of the first characters that DC actively developed and pushed forward story lines featuring major life events (marriage, birth of a son, and now death in the family). This is a great volume to track down to read Aquaman’s tumultuous adventures from the 1970s.