Friday, December 28, 2018

"The End" Week: Aquaman #63!

So many of these last issues have "The End" or some such on the cover; so it's unusual to find one that doesn't mention it in the slightest. In fact, there's a blurb at the end, "Next issue on sale during the first week in July," and nope! From 1978, Aquaman #63, "My Brother's Keeper" Written by Paul Kupperberg, pencils by Don Newton, inks by Dave Hunt.

You can probably guess from the title, but this issue features the semi-annual return of Aquaman's half-brother, Orm, the Ocean Master! Like Black Manta, he probably doesn't show up quite that often; but it feels like it sometimes. Previously, Orm sent a robot villain called Seaquake to do his job, but now had to step in and try to destroy Atlantis himself; all to better get at the goodies beneath it. He had discovered an ancient Atlantean vault with a sea serpent and incomplete plans for a forbidden super-weapon, and wanted in. The fight goes back and forth, and while Aquaman tussles with mutated fish that won't obey his telepathic commands, Orm finds the weapon, which is basically a box. Said box is supposed to drain the aggression out of Aquaman, who I didn't think was supposed to be the most aggro guy anyway, but he overpowers it, and that's that.

He doesn't get much to do here, but Aqualad returns as well; having taken off in search of his heritage in Adventure Comics. I had thought I had read that, but may have been thinking of the Aquaman reprints in the digest-sized Adventure Comics, with Jim Aparo art, those weren't half-bad. Even if the cancellation isn't alluded to, this issue still ends on a down note, when Aqualad asks how Arthur Jr. was doing, apparently not knowing (or forgetting?) 'Aquababy' had been killed by Black Manta in Adventure #452. That death never sat right with me--I have no idea how Arthur or Mera would be able to go on, or how they hadn't murdered Manta every time he's ever appeared since--but that issue was his last with that title before getting relaunched back to his own book, but with his old numbering and only for seven bimonthly issues.

This issue came out about the same time as Freedom Fighters #15, but that cancellation had been planned; this one was part of the infamous DC Implosion, wherein a large scale expansion of the DC line didn't really take off as planned. At a glance, over the years we've seen a few other books that were taken out there: Secret Society of Super-Villains #15, Kamandi #59, Claw the Unconquered #12, and hey, Mister Miracle #25! I didn't have my formatting down back then and didn't realize that was a last issue. Kinda think I have DC Super-Stars #18 somewhere, too...

No comments: