Oh Aquaman, the #1 punching bag in comicdom. But before he lost his famous orange shirt….and his son….and his hand….and became a zombie, he was one of DC’s big 7. And that’s where the first Showcase Presents volume of his stories takes the reader.
These stories mark the start of the silver age interpretation of the character, in which his origin is altered making him a half Atlantian. The stories are fairly typical for silver age DC. Hokey, full of crazy monsters, black and white morality, and people without personalities. Aquaman and Aqualad certainly don’t have any, and Quisp is only mischievious because he tells the reader so.
Then there are the incredibly formulaic plots. In each story Aquaman runs across a pirate/evil sea captain/alien fish monster, discovers their evil plan to take over the world/hijack some ships/recover a sunken treasure chest, gets captured and is kept from water for 59 minutes, then gets rescued by Aqualad (who first appears here)/his water sprite friend/his pet octopus. Yet the sheer craziness of these stories manage to make them a lot of fun, especially thanks to the art of Nick Cardy and Ramona Fradon. Granted they still draw undersea cities as if they people who lived there walked through them instead of swam, but then so does pretty much everyone else.
So, Aquaman is pretty good silver age fun, but probably only in small doses. This volume collects over 500 pages of comics and it took me 2 months to finish between other books because I just couldn’t handle that much Aquaman at once, despite actually being someone who enjoys the character.