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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member Timothy Hunter's Avatar
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    Default Thoughts On Golden Age Aquaman?

    I've heard no discourse about Aquaman's first two decades of publication. How did his Golden Age stories differed from his, more available in print, Silver Age?

  2. #2
    Obsessed & Compelled Bored at 3:00AM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timothy Hunter View Post
    I've heard no discourse about Aquaman's first two decades of publication. How did his Golden Age stories differed from his, more available in print, Silver Age?
    He's an interesting variant of Aquaman in the sense that his origin isn't just a cut and paste of Namor's origin. His comics were very much of the time, however. It was sheer luck that the character's strip survived uninterrupted into the Silver Age like almost all other super-heroes. The concept behind the character is very cool though, which is likely why Kurt Busiek used that for his Joseph Curry version of Aquaman post-Infinite Crisis.

    For whatever it's worth, I include the Golden Age Aquaman in my own DCU History as a mysterious Nazi U-Boat huntin' undersea hero who disappeared without a trace after WW2. Despite being largely forgotten by modern continuity, I think the character deserves being included.
    Last edited by Bored at 3:00AM; 01-04-2022 at 10:25 PM.

  3. #3
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    I think I've read only a few Golden Age Aquaman stories, mainly from the 80th anniversary collection.

    Apart from the origin and the tonality of the stories (which, like a lot of Golden Age fare, is a lot more overtly violent and a bit more serious than Silver Age stuff), I don't think he's fundamentally that different a character from the Silver Age version. The first major change to the character came when he became the king of Atlantis, followed by the hook and the long hair and beard.

    It's the same with the Green Arrow. Apart from his origin (and hair color!) he didn't really change much until Adams and O'Neill reinvented him with a new look and new characterization in the late 60's.

  4. #4
    Astonishing Member Adekis's Avatar
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    He took a long time before becoming an Atlantean if I recall correctly.

    I actually know more about Golden Age Sub-Mariner than I do about Golden Age Aquaman, but from the few Aquaman comics I remember reading, he's implied to have an origin closer to Doc Savage or Tom Strong than to Namor, unlike Silver Age Aquaman and onward. His father trained him intensively to be the ultimate human amphibian, something like that!

    By contrast, Namor obviously is the half-blood prince of an Antarctic race of undersea dwellers, closer to what Aquaman would be later.

    BUT if you read those early stories, it's pretty easy to see that Sub-Mariner is really nothing less than the first subversion of Superman, flying around the city and terrorizing people. At one point early on, Namor wears a red curtain like a cape and smashes a green police car! Shades of the Distinguished Competition indeed! But the skimpy outfit, the winged feet, coming from the sea instead of the stars, all does a good job disguising Namor's fundamental similarity to early Superman in terms of exploits!

    By contrast, Aquaman wouldn't pick up Atlantis as a retcon and setting for a good while into his career, iirc.
    "You know the deal, Metropolis. Treat people right or expect a visit from me."

  5. #5
    Mighty Member Goldrake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adekis View Post
    He took a long time before becoming an Atlantean if I recall correctly.

    I actually know more about Golden Age Sub-Mariner than I do about Golden Age Aquaman, but from the few Aquaman comics I remember reading, he's implied to have an origin closer to Doc Savage or Tom Strong than to Namor, unlike Silver Age Aquaman and onward. His father trained him intensively to be the ultimate human amphibian, something like that!

    By contrast, Namor obviously is the half-blood prince of an Antarctic race of undersea dwellers, closer to what Aquaman would be later.

    BUT if you read those early stories, it's pretty easy to see that Sub-Mariner is really nothing less than the first subversion of Superman, flying around the city and terrorizing people. At one point early on, Namor wears a red curtain like a cape and smashes a green police car! Shades of the Distinguished Competition indeed! But the skimpy outfit, the winged feet, coming from the sea instead of the stars, all does a good job disguising Namor's fundamental similarity to early Superman in terms of exploits!

    By contrast, Aquaman wouldn't pick up Atlantis as a retcon and setting for a good while into his career, iirc.
    Agreed Golden age Aquaman's origin are different from those in Silverage/
    As for Namor, with the exception of readers, outside comics Namor is hardly known at all, while Aquaman even if at times for wrong reasons, he is well known. The movie has pushed him to new heights. The King of the Seven Seas has come a long way since his debut in 1941.

  6. #6
    Mighty Member Jody Garland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adekis View Post
    He took a long time before becoming an Atlantean if I recall correctly.

    I actually know more about Golden Age Sub-Mariner than I do about Golden Age Aquaman, but from the few Aquaman comics I remember reading, he's implied to have an origin closer to Doc Savage or Tom Strong than to Namor, unlike Silver Age Aquaman and onward. His father trained him intensively to be the ultimate human amphibian, something like that!
    The Silver Age Origin was the first to have Arthur be a half-Atlantean and that came as late as 1959, in Adventure #260. Intersestingly, the island origin for Green Arrow was also first established around that time- the two do share an oddly similar history.

    Golden Age Aquaman was "the son of a famous oceanographer" (probably supposed to be Jacques Cousteau?) who had discovered the ruins of what he presumed to be Atlantis. Using hidden teachings thereof, he taught his young son to breathe underwater and talk to marine life (but not control it like later incarnations). Interestingly, there is no name given to GA Aquaman- he's only ever called Aquaman save for a few looks at a potential alias as a college student named Mr. Waterman. Things were less subtle back then...

    You're observation about him being a Doc Savage character is interesting. Like a lot of other brick superheroes, Aquaman had a phase closer to what Alan Moore called "science heroes". Johns tried to bring some of that back, wish it'd stuck.

  7. #7
    Astonishing Member BatmanJones's Avatar
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    I just watched the animated JSA movie last night because it just came to HBO Max so my first thought is that he was a strange (but fun) villain to fight the JSA. My other thought, not unrelated to the first, is that he is at once iconic and obscure.

  8. #8
    Golux Kurt Busiek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jody Garland View Post
    Golden Age Aquaman was "the son of a famous oceanographer" (probably supposed to be Jacques Cousteau?)
    Cousteau wasn't famous yet when Aquaman was created.

    I figure Weisinger just made Aquman's dad an oceanographer to give him a reason to be exploring underwater.

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  9. #9
    Mighty Member Jody Garland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt Busiek View Post
    Cousteau wasn't famous yet when Aquaman was created.

    I figure Weisinger just made Aquman's dad an oceanographer to give him a reason to be exploring underwater.

    kdb
    Huh, fair enough. I never double checked the timeline, so that's my fault.

    While you're here, Mr. Busiek, was the Russian novel Amphibian-Man any influence on the Arthur Jospeh run?

  10. #10
    Golux Kurt Busiek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jody Garland View Post
    While you're here, Mr. Busiek, was the Russian novel Amphibian-Man any influence on the Arthur Jospeh run?
    This is the first I've ever heard of a novel called AMPHIBIAN-MAN, so no, it wasn't an influence.

    Is it any good?

    kdb
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  11. #11
    Mighty Member Jody Garland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt Busiek View Post
    This is the first I've ever heard of a novel called AMPHIBIAN-MAN, so no, it wasn't an influence.

    Is it any good?

    kdb
    No idea, but apparently it's regarded as a classic of 20th century Russian lit, so that's gotta count for something. its plot is about a scientist's kid who's saved by being turned into an Aquaman-esque character with gill transplants. I was just struck by the similarities, even though I'm sure there are a bunch of other stories with a similar hook.

  12. #12
    Golux Kurt Busiek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jody Garland View Post
    No idea, but apparently it's regarded as a classic of 20th century Russian lit, so that's gotta count for something. its plot is about a scientist's kid who's saved by being turned into an Aquaman-esque character with gill transplants. I was just struck by the similarities, even though I'm sure there are a bunch of other stories with a similar hook.
    I got the bulk of that from the golden Age Aquaman, and just added the bit about it being done to save the kid's life because I thought it was freakishly demented to mess with your child's biology just as an experiment. Making it the only way to save his life gave him a better reason to do it.

    kdb
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  13. #13
    Mighty Member Jody Garland's Avatar
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    Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Again, thanks for the responses!

  14. #14
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    So Namor was first before Aquaman?

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    Mighty Member Jody Garland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by silly View Post
    So Namor was first before Aquaman?
    Namor first appeared in 1939 and may have been created in late 1938; Aquaman first appeared in November 1941.

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