Friday, January 22, 2010

DC's third-best Soviet spy agency themed villain!

While some of you may remember occasional Batman villain the KGBeast, from "Ten Nights of the Beast," most of you probably aren't as familiar with later attempts at a Russian assassin/super-villain, like his protege, the NKVDemon. Or Nicodemus, a student of NKVDemon, which puts him at twice removed from the KGBeast. Which is probably good enough for an Aquaman villain. From 1992's Aquaman #8, "Demons in Thought and Deed" Written by Shaun McLaughlin, pencils by Ken Hooper, inks by Bob Dvorak.

Although he knows his teacher, and doubtless his teacher's teacher, would not approve, Nicodemus is getting himself pretty well Americanized. He's got a pretty sharp haircut, for starters; and is well on his way to making big bucks. By killing Aquaman. From the files, Nicodemus knows Aquaman gets weaker out of water, and can't survive more than an hour; so he plans to hit him after his speech to the U.N.

Since Black Manta attacked him during his last press conference, this time Arthur is strapped into a bulletproof vest while he and the Russian ambassador Martina awkwardly try to flirt. Dressed in a nice suit instead of his usual orange, Arthur delivers an empassioned speech for the oceans and citizens of Atlantis, which is then met by a bunch of stupid, unrelated questions:

Pissed, Arthur storms off, sulking in the rain, as Nicodemus takes aim. Arthur senses him somehow, with either his telepathy, or Aqua-sense; and the shot misses. Nic is surprised when Aquaman jumps three stories up to come after him, since he had been under the impression that he shouldn't have been that effective out of water and with his time seemingly up. He manages to shoot Aquaman several times, the shots stopped by the vest, then Batman shows to prevent him finishing Aquaman off. Nic has no intention of losing to Batman, and splits.

Batman tries to help Aquaman, who is already recovering. He waves off Batman, wanting to face Nicodemus himself, and takes off following him on the rooftops. A previous injury stops him for a moment, and Nic takes another shot; which misses as he's warned by telepathy again. It then comes down to several pages of punching, as both Arthur and Nicodemus start to take this personally: for Nic, it becomes less about the money, than not wanting to lose just because the files on Aquaman were misleading; while Arthur doesn't want to just be known as the water guy. Nicodemus is a much better trained combatant, while Arthur's superior strength keeps him in the fight. Of course, Arthur eventually wins, because in any fight, you should probably bet on the guy who can hit the other guy with a manhole cover.

In disguise as a doctor, Batman follows up with Aquaman afterwards.

The next day, Aquaman's U.N. handler is having a fit, since the U.N. doesn't know what to do with a "vigilante delegate" and the papers keep pestering him about how Aquaman didn't die out of water. Like they're disappointed. In prison, Nicodemus is writing a letter of apology to Aquaman, when his employers arrange his silence. Nicodemus would never get to tell Aquaman that he liked his speech.

How Aquaman survived isn't really made clear this issue, but previously the creators had said they were trying to get away from some aspects of character that had never made a lot of sense: like, if Aquaman was out of water for fifty-nine minutes he was fine, then he dropped dead at sixty? What if it was humid out, or if he had a glass of water? The point is, it shouldn't have been a hard-and-fast rule.


ComicsAllTooReal's Chris said...

What an obscure issue of Aquaman! I remember liking the character and trying so hard to like the story, but it was hardly possible. It must have had something to do with Russian spies, a theme that was old already.

CalvinPitt said...

I would have thought the rain was what kept him going. Or would that not be enough water?

SallyP said...

Uh yeah...wasn't he fighting in the RAIN? Seems to me, that would be plenty.