Monday, July 18, 2022

Aquaman #28 (January, 1997)

The trio met in a parking garage, each dressed in trench coat and fedora. "Are you out of your mind," J'Onn asked, possibly meant literally. Not long prior, Aquaman had set his former teammate afire with napalm during a tense encounter with the Justice League, and had since fended off an alien invasion without alerting anyone, then declared war on the island nation of Japan. Ultimately, Aquaman was probably not insane, though he was emotionally unstable in this period, and very angry. In this continuity, Aquaman had been abandoned to die as an infant, but had survived under the guidance of an intelligent dolphin named Porm. An adoptive mother to the hero, Porm was killed by the Japanese sea captain Kimon Tanaka, who soon entered into a vendetta with Aquaman that saw him become the cyborg villain Demon Gate. Backed by the Japanese Government and Raiden Industries, the only path to avenging Porm meant entering into a proxy war between Japanese sea vessels and the ocean life under command of King Arthur.

An ancient cybernetic organism had taken command of Aquaman's nation of Poseidonis, so Manhunter was needed to help the Sea King and his current partner Dolphin (note uppercase) to penetrate its defenses, both physical and mental. Aquaman broke and subjugated the entity to his will, and used the power of Poseidonis to intimidate Japan until the government turned Demon Gate over to the sovereign. The Sleuth from Outer Space was very unhappy to have been misused by Arthur once again. "Gods... the loneliness... so near and so far, for centuries... just wanting to be touched... loved... we've done a terrible, terrible thing this day." The Alien Atlas abandoned the crusade before Aquaman finally claimed Kimon Tanaka from his brother, who willingly shut down Demon Gate's cybernetics. Initially intent on executing the killer of his mother, after the sea creatures sought clemency in Porm's loving name, Arthur instead sentenced him to life imprisoned upon a deserted island.

"Setting Sun" was by Peter David, Jim Calafiore, & Peter L. Palmiotti. As I've mentioned too many times by this point, I had an interest in Martian Manhunter dating back at least to my purchase of his 1985 Super Powers Collection Action Figure, but my true fandom began with 1996's Justice League: A Midsummer's Nightmare #2. With the help of Mike’s Amazing World of Comics, I've come to the conclusion that this was the first new comic that I bought specifically for J'Onn J'Onzz after that point of demarcation. I was a big fan of PAD's, and so excited for his upcoming run on Aquaman that I sought Sea King back issues to prepare. Problem being, I very much preferred the prior work to David's frankly underwhelming and derivative approach. I dipped into his run here and there, but it never took, and I was especially disinterested in the issues drawn in this brittle style. There was absolutely no reason for me to pick this issue up aside from the guest appearance, and therefore it was my first step toward the level of fandom that would see my developing pretty much the primary hub for the character on the internet. It wasn't especially rewarding, as I was at a loss amidst the plots and subplots of an unfamiliar leg of the run, but I still appreciated the prominent cover booking for our favorite Martian.


kevin from new orleans said...

I agree whit you 100% that cover is freaking awesome! I became a fan of M.M. in the early 80's when I was given some comics & in one of the dollar books was a M.M. detective comics story.

Diabolu Frank said...

So I'm guessing a Samachson/Certa reprint from the '50s? World's Finest?

kevin from new orleans said...

Yes sir!