Once again, I turn the column over to my official unofficial researcher, John Wells, as I continue my teaching stint in the Johns Hopkins summer program?
In the Neal Pozner AQUAMAN miniseries, it mentions the construction of twelve mystic crystals. Can you tell me if this was dealt with in the ARION series?
This was established in an extended flashback in ARION #4 (February, 1983) after a prelude in issue #3. One of the crystals — the Ram’s Head — had been uncovered and temporarily released the mad Aries. Issue #4 explained that each crystal (corresponding to a Zodiac sign) was strategically located far beneath the Earth and situated at a natural point of power. The major cities of power in the Atlantean empire were constructed above each of the dozen crystal burial grounds. The gems put the planet’s chaotic energy into focus but it was a fragile union, one that could have catastrophic consequences for the planet if the crystals were disturbed or gathered together. “The master mages of the twelve cities” served as guardians of the crystals to prevent such tampering but, in the flashback in ARION #4, one of them — Dark Majistra — decided to draw the power of the Twelve Crystals into herself.
While the planet was rocked by earthquakes, tidal waves, volcanoes and other acts of nature, Majistra and her son Garn were opposed by her other child, Ahri’ahn, and his father, Caculha. Father and son succeeded in dispersing the gems and returning them to their underground hideaways but not without sacrifice. Caculha had absorbed too much energy from the Twelve Crystals and exiled himself in the Darkworld rather than imperil Earth while young Ahri’ahn was reduced to energy. His father gathered the energy and kept it in incubation until his son could be reborn as Arion some 100,000 years later. In the interim, Earth had entered an ice age thanks to the Twelve Crystals having been drained of their natural power.
And, as you’ve read, Aquaman’s brother, Orm Marius, eventually learned of the Twelve Crystals of the Zodiac in 1986’s AQUAMAN mini-series and made his own bid for power, reasoning that, even with most of their energy depleted, there’d still be enough left to make him a true Ocean Master.
Coincidentally, the ARION story appeared on the heels of another Zodiac-related story in WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #285-288 (November-February, 1982-1983). In WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #268, Silver Age villain Doctor Zodiac (WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #160) had stolen the Zodiac Idol created by pre-cataclysm Atlantean sorcerer Ar-Phazel. Powered by twelve golden coins, the Idol bestowed the power and form of each Zodiac symbol onto its owner. In the four-part sequel, recent Batgirl foe Madame Zodiac (yep, one of Bob’s creations from BATMAN FAMILY #17 and #18) hooked up with Doctor Zodiac in the hope of unleashing her demonic “Adored One.” No such luck, thanks to Superman and Batman.
Speaking of that AQUAMAN mini-series, Neal Pozner and Craig Hamilton had planned a sequel had sales warranted it, one of several Aquaman stories over the years that never made it into print.
The original AQUAMAN series, for instance, had ended with issue #56 (March-April, 1971) on something of a cliffhanger. As “The Creature That Devoured Detroit” concluded, Aquaman had forced his way into a research facility and barricaded himself in a control room. Even as he triggered the destruction of a satellite that was wreaking environmental havoc, armed guards were forcing their way into the room. A three-page Aqualad teaser intended for issue #57 eventually surfaced in TEEN TITANS #36 but the lead story never made it beyond the plot stage. Though he was never able to write the story he’d originally intended, Steve Skeates penned two sequels ? for other publishers.
Skeates created a new aquatic hero for Warren Publishing later in 1971 and eventually recycled his plot for AQUAMAN #57 as “The Once Powerful Prince” in EERIE #40, wherein villains stole the mystic ring that gave Prince Targo his undersea powers. The first Prince Targo script appeared in EERIE #36 (“Prototype”) and the chronologically third was in EERIE #37 (“The Other Side of Atlantis”).
And in 1974, Skeates penned a direct sequel (complete with a shot of an unidentified Aquaman’s finger on the destruct button) that dealt with the consequences of the satellite crashing to Earth. The star of this particular story was Aquaman’s Marvel Comics counterpart, Prince Namor, and the episode appeared in SUB-MARINER #72, itself the final issue of the run!
Skeates was asked to reconstruct his original plot for an article in COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE #83/THE O’NEIL OBSERVER #2 (2000) but, understandably, couldn’t recall most of the details. Basically, it would have picked up where #56 left off, with Aquaman sustaining multiple bullet wounds as he fled from the Powers lab. After losing and regaining consciousness a couple times, Aquaman finally made it to Lake Erie only to discover that he’d lost his ability to breathe underwater ? and his telepathic powers. Forced to resort to hitchhiking in order to reach a safe haven, Aquaman unexpectedly flagged down Green Arrow “who [was] piloting a van (one that [looked] like a hippie-bus) returning from some sort of adventure of his own.”
In 1977, AQUAMAN #57 finally reached the stands, spinning out of the Aquaman series in ADVENTURE COMICS. Its contents, of course, had no relation to the material originally planned for 1971’s version of the issue.
Skipping ahead to the mid-1980s, Neal Pozner had envisioned his second Aquaman mini-series as one that would spotlight the rest of the Aqua-family. Described in detail in AMAZING HEROES PREVIEW SPECIAL #3 (1986), the story aimed at expanding the roles of Mera (described by Pozner as “more powerful than Aquaman… in her own way”) and Aqualad. Filling the void left by the recent death of Aquagirl in CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #9 and #10, a new character named Tawna was to have become Aqualad’s new girl friend. Other players were to have included Ronal (Lori Lemaris’ husband) and Makaira. Makaira was Vulko’s wife but the first mini-series failed to explicitly point this out and, unaware of her role, future writers ignored the character.
Eschewing the angry, Sub-Mariner-esque approach of recent years, Aquaman would have maintained the more even-tempered disposition he’d acquired in the first mini-series. He would, however, have abandoned his striking new blue costume and returned to the original in the second issue of the sequel. Antagonists in the story were to have been the Sunderland Corporation and Atlantean religious extremists.
In the Aquaman stories that actually made into print over the next few years, the Sea King did regain his familiar orange and green costume. Otherwise, events largely moved in the opposite direction, stripping the series of its entire cast and Atlantean backdrop. Indeed, according to AMAZING HEROES #172, the death of Mera at the end of issue #3 of 1989’s AQUAMAN mini-series was meant to be permanent. After Dick Giordano, former Aqua-editor and then DC’s vice president, expressed regret at her passing, writer Keith Giffen revived her in #4, attributing the survival to her alien metabolism. Be that as it may, she was still out of the series, having been rendered a madwoman and sent back to her other-dimensional homeworld once and for all.
Writer Shaun McLaughlin began to rebuild in the short-lived 1991-1992 revival of AQUAMAN. Like Pozner, McLaughlin was unable to have all of his ideas realized but many of his plans can be found at the Unofficial Aquaman Website. There he revealed that Minister F’ancha, the advisor to Atlantis’ King Thesily (#1-6, 10, 11), would have eventually been revealed as the Ocean Master, using his position to surreptitiously advance his anti-Aquaman agenda. Meanwhile, Merrevale Oil executive Jordan Wylie (#9-10) was meant to have been the head of O.G.R.E., a retooled version of the Silver Age organization (AQUAMAN [first series] #26, 31, 53).
Ironically, Dan Jurgens, presumably unfamiliar with F’ancha’s true identity, later initiated a subplot of his own in which Whynt, the advisor of Cerdia’s Queen Charlanda, was eventually revealed as the Ocean Master (2000’s AQUAMAN #63-68).
Unlike his recent predecessors, Peter David was able to build momentum during his run of Aquaman, moving from 1993’s AQUAMAN: TIME AND TIDE mini-series to a four-year run on the ongoing series (1994-1998). In the end, editorial frustrations triggered David’s departure. In his “But I Digress” column in THE COMICS BUYER’S GUIDE #1453 (2001), he noted several possible storylines that he’d considered, including this one:
- “Naiad, the water elemental, is obliterated by Triton, who then enslaves Corona. Aquaman subsequently battles Triton and dies a fiery death defending Poseidonis ? and then becomes Earth’s new water elemental. He still maintains human form but has a whole new set of powers (drastically different from Naiad’s).
“But that was shot down because I was told that, since Superman had returned after ‘The Death of Superman,’ no one would believe such a cheap, obvious ploy as Aquaman ‘dying.’ David took his leave soon after and, in fact, his final story was the ? ah ? watered-down version of the Aquaman-Triton clash (AQUAMAN #45-46).”
And, of course, Aquaman did end up “dying” in JLA: OUR WORLDS AT WAR #1 (September, 2001 — two months shy of his 60th birthday), albeit in such a vague manner that some readers, myself included, didn’t even realize he was supposed to be dead. Apparently, the JLA: OBSIDIAN AGE event is going to resolve that particular question, leaving us with one less untold tale to worry about.
I am doing stories featuring classic Jack Kirby-Joe Simon characters for a website but I need to know Blue Bolt’s secret identity.
– Gerald D. Wilson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It was Fred Parrish who, according to Pure Imagination’s COMPLETE JACK KIRBY, VOLUME ONE, was a Harvard football player “who almost dies when struck by lightning twice in the same day. In an effort to save Fred’s life, Dr. Bertoff treats him with radium and this gives Parrish the power to throw lightning and the ability to fly.”
Blue Bolt’s origin, in Novelty Press’ BLUE BOLT #1 (1940) was entirely the product of Joe Simon but Jack Kirby came aboard with issue #2. The installments from #2 and #3 were reprinted in Volume One of THE COMPLETE JACK KIRBY while BLUE BOLT #4-10 are in Volume Two.
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