Friday, July 13, 2012

Aquaman in DC Special Series #1 (September, 1977)

From out of the underwater decaying remains of World War II era ships emerged a one-man "jetsub," formerly owned by the Black Manta. Aquaman had confiscated it after defeating the villain who had murdered his young son. The Sea King dreaded telling his wife that he had sent Manta to prison rather than executing him. "At the time, I called it mercy... but I wonder... was it really weakness?"

The Marine Marvel's internal torment shifted to an external one, as the jetsub crashed shortly after departing the water. The act was intended as a display of power by the new super-villain Sunburst. Aquaman instinctively called on some finny friends for help, who were swiftly sautéd. "Amphibian, you disappoint me! I chose you for my sacrifice because I knew you would be an easy target for my newfound powers-- yet I'd hoped for some contest between us-- not a pathetic route!" The dolphin demolition enraged Aquaman, who lunged at Sunburst, only to be caught at the wrists and burned until he fell unconscious. Sunburst then lifted the jetsub with heated air and carried it to desert in the desert. How that helped demonstrate his power to the world, not to mention his common sense and stomach for killing, is a question that a DC editor really needed access to a No-Prize to answer.

Aquaman woke up at sundown, and to combat falling temperatures, mixed sand with aviation fuel to create a slower burning source of heat that he ignited with "wires from the flier's transmission." That taken care of, he then used a sheet of metal from the craft to shovel the sand between two dunes until he reached life-sustaining water. This was back when he could only survive for an hour out of water, so he soaked it up with a rag and carried it with him in a gas can. The next morning, with a makeshift ghutrah on his head, Aquaman trekked the desert. Spying a plane, the Sea King managed to be spotted by reflecting sunlight off a mirror.

Traveling to Bakushi, Iran, Aquaman caught up with Sunburst and slugged him one. Dodging retaliatory energy blasts, our hero whipped out his trusty mirror, redirecting a blast back to its source, and destroying the means of Sunburst's power. Iranian authorities carted Sunburst away, while even his friend Ambassador Karhum called his plot to revive the Persian Empire mad. Aquaman noted that Sunbursts plot came about "The same way a city like Bakushi happens... Wealth and poverty... People living in extremes... Call it human greed... the dream of empire..."

"A King Without A Sea!" was by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin & Jack Abel. It was an odd beast, promoting the short-lived revival of Aquaman's solo series by an entirely different creative team who would ultimately support the Sea King far longer in Justice League of America. Two pages were spent on the origin of Sunburst, five on their pair of battles, and four on desert survival techniques. That's quite the scope for twelve pages, with the plot holes to be expected under the strain.

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