Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ripples Through Time - 009

I'm reading every Aquaman solo adventure in publication order, one per day. After I read each story I'm going to post the cover/splash page and a few thoughts on the story.

One of the hardest parts about doing this feature is keeping myself from reading ahead. I find that after I've read a tale, I want to read the next one right away. I have to hold myself back.

More Fun #80 Aquaman Splash Page
More Fun #80 (June 1942) - The Scourge of the Seven Seas

Black Jack escapes from his seaside prison and takes over a pleasure yacht.

Black Jack's daring escape from prison takes about two and a half pages of action. He first throws a guard into the electric fence so the other guards must shut off the power to free him. With the power down, Black Jack climbs the fence and dives into the nearby ocean. Once there, he stuffs his prison outfit with seaweed so the guards (and Aquaman who comes along just in time for this part of the escape) are distracted by recovering "Black Jack's body" from the ocean floor. And then he swims away.

Aquaman is still not well-known. A prison guard asks who he is, and another guard gives a nice recounting of Aquaman's origin... Black Jack is called a "natural leader of men" and shown talking the crew of the yacht into joining him as pirates... When Aquaman finds Van Mille adrift in his lifeboat, starving and dying of thirst, Aquaman gets the man fresh water from undersea springs and offers him shellfish to eat... Black Jack takes the ransom for the people on the yacht, but plans to kill them anyway so they can't testify against him... Black Jack offers to spare Phyllis if she'll marry him, but she says she'd prefer the clean water after knowing him... Aquaman's leadership skills out-trump Black Jack's, as the crew come over the Aquaman's side after Aquaman saves the ship... Black Jack is marooned on an island instead of being taken by Aquaman back to prison.

Finny Friends Report: Aquaman fights a shark. He also gets a message of the activities of Black Jack from a fish (the fish reports men fighting aboard a yacht with one thrown into the water).

Captured/Knocked Out report: Black Jack knocks out Aquaman with the butt of a pistol, and throws him in the metal-lined hold.

A note about measurements at sea... A "fathom" is used to measure depth, and is 6 feet (1.83 meters). A "league" is used to measure distance, and is 3.0 statute miles (4.8 kilometers). The caption boxes on these early stories often refer to Aquaman as being the man from "twenty thousand leagues under the sea" which is complete nonsense. The title of the book, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, is referring to a journey of that distance, not to the depths which the Nautilus could go. If Aquaman was from twenty thousand leagues under the sea, he'd be from 60,000 miles under the sea... and the diameter of the Earth is only about 8,000 miles. It's odd what little things annoy, and this is one that always manages to bother me for some reason.

Have you read this story? What do you think?

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