Sunday, August 26, 2018

Retro Review: More Fun Comics #73 (1941) - Aquaman's First Appearance

Saving the Day...on Porpoise

Written by: Mort Weisinger
Art by: Paul Norris
Cover Price: 10¢
Release Date: November 1941

If you are playing at home, you may remember that I already reviewed a story from More Fun Comics #73.  It was Green Arrow's first appearance titled, "Case of the Namesake Murders" which makes this review that much more special.  You see, Mort Weisinger was tasked with coming up with new characters and in this one issue, he came up with two huge ones...Green Arrow and Aquaman!  Yep, this review is for Aquaman's first appearance in the story titled, "The Submarine Strikes".  Let's check it out...

The issue opens with an unarmed ship being sunk by a submarine captained by a man who just might be Colonel Klink of Hogan's Heroes fame.  There's a bonus two for one...Aquaman and Colonel Klink's first appearance!

Hogaaan, I mean, Aquamaaaan!

Before actually seeing Aquaman, though, we have to set up what a piece of crap the bad guy is (in case the swastika wasn't enough) so when he finds out the lifeboat is full of women and children, he wants it sunk...for PR reasons.  Of course, Aquaman shows up to steer the boat to safety.  Then it's time to kick some German butt!

The Germans are lucky here.  They think they can escape Aquaman with their sub (escape Aquaman by going underwater?  Silly Germans!), but they do have two things going for them...Aquaman still needs to help the people in the lifeboat and Weisinger needs Aquaman to have some sort of abilities beyond being a strong swimmer.  A legend (and a million jokes) was thus born.  Aquaman tells some porpoises to help the survivors get to safety.  

Aquaman is talking...on porpoise!

It is done in a way that actually feels right...he talks to them in their own language.  It makes more sense when we get a little origin story right afterward.  I mean, makes more sense amongst a tale of a kid who somehow breathes underwater and gets abilities through his father's underwater research and by studying the "records and devices" of Atlantis.  So, learning some of the local languages is hardly a big leap.  On a side note, there is a mention of Aquaman's mom, but only that she died when he was a baby. 

Aquaman, the creator of the Waverunner!

With the origin told, it's off to fight some Nazis.  Swimming and then riding a porpoise like a badass, Aquaman finds the remote island the bad guys are hiding on, punches the crap out of the submarine and then takes the fight to the land.  Unfortunately, the Nazis have done their homework and by that, I mean they have watched plenty of Looney Tunes shorts and drop a sledgehammer on Aquaman's head and knock him out, complete with killer one-liner!  Who said that Nazis didn't have a sense of humor?  The answer...EVERYBODY!

So, the bad guys knock Aquaman out and tie him up, but what to do now?  Well, they come up with a plan for the ages...throw him in the water, of course!  I mean, they could set him on fire, push him off a cliff, I don't know, shoot him!  Nope, they throw the fish man back from whence he came.  Yea, they put big weights on him, but still...

After sinking into an underwater volcano (?), Aquaman uses his sea smarts to signal for help and after some porpoises rescue him, he catches up to the Nazis, chases them into a building and plays hot potato...with a grenade!  Spoiler alert...Aquaman wins.  The second spoiler alert...the Nazi loses which is a nice way to say he died!  Aquaman didn't kill him, though, the grenade did.  Plus, he is a Nazi so...

Almost hit him...wait almost only counts in horseshoes and...

Yea, this was a fun issue.  We get an origin story, a look at some of Aquaman's powers and some Nazis dying horrible deaths.  What more could a little kid want back in 1941?  Of the two first appearances in this issue, I think Aquaman was the clear winner by a wide margin over Green Arrow.  Obviously, Aquaman fans will want to read this, but DC fans, in general, should give it a go as well.  Also, porpoise fans should check it out too, since they are the real heroes of the story!

Bits and Pieces:

This first appearance of Aquaman is full of the silly stuff these issues tend to have, but there is also a lot that survived the test of time to make Aquaman such a great character.  Yea, some still think Aquaman is a joke, but they would be wrong and maybe watching him play "hot grenade" with a Nazi will change their minds.


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