Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Classics - Aquaman #18

Here's a comic that made history - and I missed it.

I didn't buy this issue of Aquaman when it hit the stands (it's cover dated November-December 1964) - mostly because I never saw it. Even if I had seen it, I probably would have passed on it.

By 1964 I was hooked on Marvel's comics, and I was picking up fewer and fewer DC books. I'm ashamed to admit it, because this issue includes some stunning art by an uncredited Nick Cardy, and it includes the first-ever, honest-to-goodness, not-an-imaginary-story wedding between two superheroes (The Fantastic Four's Reed Richards and Sue Storm would finish a close second, tying the knot just a few months later).

There was another big change in this issue, as Aquaman was crowned King of Atlantis. But despite these significant events, the writing falls apart.

The story begins with Mera escaping from her home dimension just before the gate between worlds closes for the last time. (Note that, contrary to the story going on now in Brightest Day, her people let her go with their blessing so she can be with her beloved Aquaman.)

The evil Oceanus also manages to sneak through and uses his water powers to create monsters. Mera goes to Aquaman, who tells her he can't marry her even though he loves her because the King can only marry an Atlantean (gah).

Embittered, she joins forces with Oceanus and they conquer Atlantis - but Mera's feelings for our hero win out in the end.

Amazingly, Aquaman forgives her, devises a solution to their marriage problem and marries her in a single-panel ceremony that features the Justice League and a mob of Atlanteans.

So it's all pretty silly - but the art makes it all worthwhile. Cardy was (and is) an amazing talent - arguably DC's top artist. His heroes are handsome and virile, his women are stunningly beautiful (I had a comics crush on Mera - hey, I love the red hair!), and the settings are lush and detailed.

It's not the greatest comic ever, but the art and the history make it more than worthwhile.

Oh, and if you're wondering, I picked up this issue a few years back at a comics convention, and I was surprised how cheap it was - I think I paid $5 for it. I guess the seller had no appreciation for comics history.

Grade: B


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