Friday, June 21, 2024

I thought it was weird he knew Bruce and Hal as a kid; but that's just scraping the surface here.

I got this a couple shows back, and finally got to read it! From 1971, Superman #171, "Dark Strangler of the Seas!" Written by Frank Robbins, pencils by Bob Brown, inks by Murphy Anderson.
Some time back, we saw a book from a decade later, where young Clark met Hal Jordan; but this issue is all Superboy and Aquaboy. Some fishermen pull an oil-covered "monster" from the ocean, which Superboy rushes to a detergent factory to have him scrubbed off, but the mysterious teen in the scaly orange shirt keeps trying to fight his way back into the water, until he finally is able to explain he needed it to breathe! Aquaboy introduces himself, and explains how one of "his" porpoises had died after being covered in oil from a leaky tanker: he had tried to confront the ship's captain, and was himself doused in oil. Superboy is rather quicker to action than stodgey old Superman, and flies with Aquaboy to the shipping-line owners; who outright refuse them: one in a shiek-style headdress decries the idea of taking their ships out of service to repair them as "wasteful!"
The young heroes aren't cowed by this, and step up their campaign: Aquaboy sets up surveillance with his fishy friends, and Superboy picks up a leaky tanker, flies it out to the desert, and drains it. (Dumping a lot of oil into the desert isn't seen as an environmental issue!) Superboy then takes the tanker to a shipyard, to be repaired at the shippers' expense. Fearing for their bottom line, the businessmen know they can't take Superboy, but what if they eliminate his partner...? Or use him as leverage. As Superboy brings in another tanker, they set their trap, with Aquaboy's girlfriend, Marita? Who looks a lot like a young Mera, down to her style of swimsuit; but who then betrays him to be captured? Feels like there's a lot that should be unpacked there, but they don't go into it at all! Marita doesn't even have any dialogue! Maybe she got tired of having a boyfriend she could only see for an hour at a time.
Superboy rescues Aquaboy from an exploding tanker, and the bad guys, including Marita, are flown off, to...jail? A stout lecture? It's not clear, but left rather open, as the battle against pollution continues. Spoiler alert: we're pretty much losing. Also this issue: an editor's note, explaining their new approach to Superboy. Previously, he had been stuck in an older "time slot," but going forward his adventures would "trail" the perpetually 29-year-old Superman: if Superman was 29 in 1970, he would've been a teen in 1955; and Superboy's time period would continue to move accordingly.

1 comment:

Mr. Morbid said...

Another redhead huh? Aquaman CLEARLY has a type & I can’t say I blame him, as who doesn’t?

I like how that prick has no trouble wasting oil on a random teen but God forbid he bother to have a leaky tanker fixed. This is pretty much how the rest of the decades up to the now have gone, from the Exxon Valdez to the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010. The companies get a slap on the wrist fine, while near-permanent environmental damage occurs.

And yeah, I’ve heard that argument before about just giving the consumer what they want. But you can also do without inflating prices to line your pockets.

As for Superboy taking action quicker than he would as he got older…I guess chalk it up to experience and having learned not to always rush blindly into situations? Still seems like a copout to me….