If You Think Aquaman is Lame...

Bloggified by Jake on Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Aquaman gets a lot of criticism for his limited and specialized powers. Talking to fish and breathing underwater is too small a niche to really be a consistant contributing member of the Justice League.

Personally, I really enjoyed Peter David's Aquaman run because he took most of the stories away from the surface world and created a Shakespearean undersea existence for Arthur. That said, I tend to agree with those who think he doesn't fit the Justice League mold. Aquaman shouldn't be fighting aliens who attack Mongolia. He should stay in the water until outside forces garner his attention.

What I'm saying is I don't think Aquaman sucks, but I can certainly understand those who do. The cover story of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #115, however, will make even the most die hard Aquaman hater rethink his position on the King of Atlantis when he realizes who Aquaman could be.

In "Survival of the Fittest," Jimmy Olsen is assigned to cover the maiden voyage of a nuclear submarine. While the crew prepares to weigh anchor, Jimmy has some time to kill and paddles to shore where he meets a creepy old man who whittles model ships. Jimmy admires the craftsmanship, but fails to recognize that all the models are of boats that had been sunk!As Jimmy heads back to the water to do some skin-diving, the old man puts the finishing touches on his latest model, the very same sub Jimmy is doing the story about.

From nowhere, a whirlpool sucks down the submarine, trapping the crew inside. Jimmy dives down to save them, and finds himself joined by sea creatures in the rescue effort.I would try to explain how a guy grabbing and stepping on a series of eels like ladder rungs would only succeed in pulling the eels out of place and never actually ascend, but I'm out of Tums, so I need to pick my battles.

Sure enough, Aquaman is on the scene and helps salvage the ship with a school of pufferfish. Watching all this from a cliff, the old man gets angry and calls upon "Leviathan," the whale who ate Jonah and is still alive 3000 years later.Hang on, Jimmy. Judging from some of the emails I got after reviewing The Cross and the Switchblade and God's Smuggler, you may want to be careful before you refer to any biblical story as a fairy tale. I believe in public schools in Kansas, that story was added to the required history curriculum. One of these days they might get around to adding the civil rights movement as well.

Inside the belly of the whale, Jimmy finds a six-sided stone with carvings in various languages that promise to grant fantastic powers. As soon as he touches it, the whale spits him out and he learns he can swim faster, breath underwater, and telepathically communicate with the creatures of the deep.

No sooner does Jimmy become aware of his new powers, that an unseen force lifts dozens of old, sunken wrecks to the surface in the path of an aircraft carrier.I love that someone decided the sound effects of fish rubbing its scaly, cartilaginous snout against rotting, centuries-old, waterlogged wood are "ZZZZ" and "RRIIPP." Do you think the fish tried to reason with Jimmy before doing this?

"Look, I know our name is 'sawfish,' but this isn't a friggin' cartoon. My nose resembles a saw! It's not capable of cutting wood. I mean, are you gonna ask the hammerhead shark to pound a few nails for you while you're at it, dipshit?"
"Sawfish! Cut the boats! Clear a path for the aircraft carrier, for that is Aqua-Jimmy's bidding!"
"Fuck it, guys, just see what we can do to humor this jackass until Aquaman gets here and sets him straight."


In fact, Aquaman does show, but to praise Jimmy, not to laugh at his ineptitude. Learning that there is now someone else with his exact same powers, Aquaman takes the news pretty well considering the aforementioned niche-quality of his superheroing.

The person who doesn't take the news well is Superman.Holy fucking shit, Superman. That is possibly the coldest thing I've ever heard anyone say to anybody.

Frankly, as startling as it is for Superman to bring up Aquaman's wife disappearing as a possible reason for why Jimmy was able to wrap up the situation before Arthur could get there--as opposed to pointing out that the whole thing happened within fifty yards of Jimmy while Aquaman was off the coast of Madagascar when it happened--it's more shocking to see Aquaman's reaction.

Most men would say something like "Listen, you may be able to boil my brain inside my skull just by staring at me, but if you ever talk about my family like that again, I will find a piece of green Kryptonite the size of my fist and shove it up your ass sideways." Aquaman, on the other hand, voices concern that Superman thinks he's slipping and offers to prove himself.

The test starts a little slow, with Superman towing the two candidates for King of the Deep around in a row boat for 55 minutes. Then he dumps them in the middle of a desert and explains the rules of the test.Both Jimmy and Aquaman need to be replenished with water every hour--please note, that is water and not just any fluid--or they will die. Jimmy manages to buy a minute or two by sticking his face into Superman's footprints and soaking up a few drops of water from his boot. Jimmy gets the pitcher of water and Aquaman dies.

As Superman and Jimmy shove Aquaman's corpse into a giant clamshell, Jimmy never once questions why Superman felt the need to murder--or at least manslaughter--his friend and Justice League teammate. Instead, he merely vows to do his best to fill Aquaman's shoes.

Tired of waiting for Jimmy to put two and two together, Superman reveals himself to be...Hey, everybody, it's Enrico Palazzo!

"Captain Bane? Are you goddamn retarded? Let me spell this all out for you nice and easily." What we learn is that Proteus hasn't been able to sink any ships and kill thousands of people the way he used to before Aquaman came around. Now, with Aquaman out of the way, he's going to go on a maritime killing spree.Seriously, Jimmy, are you even paying attention? This is embarrassing for you and for all of us who are reading about you. At this point, I fear that if I threw you a life preserver, you would try to eat it.

Proteus leaves Jimmy to drown or freeze to death or both while he heads off to sink an ocean liner. Just before the ship crashes into a series of icebergs, however, it flies into the air courtesy of Superman, who drops in just for the "we only have one page to wrap this stupid story up" conclusion.

It seems Aquaman, "like the lungfish and some amphibians," went into aestivation, a kind of suspended animation, and didn't die at all. When buried at sea, he was revived and came to save Jimmy and telepathically call Superman for help. Superman then grabs the Proteus and flies him into space to banish him on another planet."Seriously, Superman, I'm probably going to die here. This would be like me stranding you on a planet revolving around a red sun."
"Well, at least you'll die thinking about Jimmy Olsen. When it's my time, that's they way I hope to go."


Unfortunately, this story was a bit rushed, despite it's 13 page length, and failed to live up to the batshit crazy level of idiocy I normally expect from a Jimmy Olsen comic, especially one with a cover of this caliber.

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