Saturday, September 4, 2010
Aquaman- King of the Sea and a heck of a nice guy. Adventure Comics #262
Back before Aquaman met Aqualad, or Mera (the future Mrs. Aquaman), or became the ruler of Atlantis, he had a LOT more time to dedicate to his sea creature friends. Topo the octopus, in particular, seems to have been a sort of de facto sidekick. It's only natural, then, that Aquaman should want to see to the well-being of his finny friends. He spends four out of his alloted 6 pages tending to sick and injured sea creatures.
It's pretty obvious that the Sea King has no prior veterinary experience, as he uses a live lobster to pull a shark's bum tooth and uses a live swordfish to jimmy a turtles stuck head out of it's shell. He even shuts a feverish whale in a glass room full of icewater (the ice was chipped from an iceberg) seemingly forgetting that the whale will need to breathe at some point.
Still, his good deeds are rewarded, as his fish friends come to his rescue when he is wounded fghting some pirates on page four. The sea creatures perform emergency surgery on Aquaman. Electric eels give him electro-shock and swordfish probe for and remove bullets while lantern fish form a light fixture. Miraculously, he recovers.
This story, although absurd, is positively charming and unforgettable. Although the story itself remains uncredited, it is a masterpiece of the short-form comics story, cramming loads of action into five and a half pages. The surrealness of the splash panel is only foreshadowing of the child-like marvels to come. All of this is beautifully enabled by the brilliant artwork of Ramona Fradon, one of the truly great artists of the 1950's.