Fire & Water #171 – Secret Origin of Aquaman

Host of the SECRET ORIGINS PODCAST Ryan Daly joins Rob to talk about the secret origin of Aquaman from SECRET ORIGINS (Vol.1) #7!

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Opening theme, "That Time is Now," by Michael Kohler. Closing music by Daniel Adams and Ashton Burge of The Bad Mamma Jammas!

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6 responses to “Fire & Water #171 – Secret Origin of Aquaman

  1. I’m typing slow because I have one fist waving! Again with the slagging on Curt Swan. I didn’t really like the “Tarzan of the sea” version of Aquaman’s origin, but I loved the art in that. Swan and Shanower were a great team.

    But onto the book you’re actually talking about…I have this issue! Bought from a back issue bin, I couldn’t resist it, even though I had the first Robin story reprinted in that odd Batman Oreo/Fig Newtons reprint mail-away comic. The oldest Aquaman story I had read before this was the first appearance of Aqualad in one of my beloved DC Digests (a Secret Origins issue, of course).

    I’m with you guys, this is good stuff. It holds up, where other Golden Age stuff is hard for me to slog through as well. I’d be interested in reading more certainly. Rob’s More Fun/Adventure Sundays proved this wasn’t just a happy accident. The stories may have been some what repetitious, but the artwork was strong for the period.

    As for Weisnger, I’m also flummoxed by his lack of creator credit on Aquaman and Green Arrow. I hadn’t thought of the “corporate employee” angle, but that’s probably it. I do think Weisinger was the reason Aquaman, GA and even Jonny Quick stuck around when more popular, headlining characters could have taken their place when titles like Flash Comics, All-American, All-Flash and Green Lantern were cancelled. You would think DC would have scrubbed the permanent back-up crew to find a home for these now jobless All-Stars, but maybe papa Weisinger was looking out for his kids.

    Oh, and I think the very reason for this issue’s content can be found at the very bottom of Aquaman’s last page. Robin and Aquaman were now TV stars again, and since the big three had already had their origins told in this series, it made sense to wrap up with the other two Super Friends!

    Great show, and I loved the bit in the intro.


  2. I really enjoyed this episode, please, do the rest of the series – I bought most of them at the time, including this issue. I loved both stories, it was so magical seeing comics were so different … and yet the same. I like this version of the story more than the mer-wife cliche.

    And I’m with Chris, the Swan/Shanower work is lovely. I’ll take Swan anywhere he shows up, unlike Jim Aparo, whom I only love on Aquaman. I can take him elsewhere, except Batman – he draws great faces, but Batman’s mask hobbles him. Plus, eyeballs.

  3. A friend of mine had this comic, so I got to read it back in the day. Loved it then, love it now.

    You mention the science fiction origin here, vs the later and the other Silver Age characters. Weisinger came out of the earliest science-fiction fandom, so it makes sense. When you look at the Silver Age, it is formed by those sci-fi fans: Weisinger, Julie Schwartz, Gardner Fox and John Broome.

    I always felt Namor had more in common with Jules Verne’s “villains,” like Nemo and Robur. he was a superior man who had a bone to pick with society. Aquaman was more of a hero, with a lighter nature, like dolphins at play. However, like a dolphin, he can kill the sharks of the world, if he chooses.

    I’m with Chris on your Curt Swan bashing. You whippersnappers need to learn that Swan is near god-like; especially when he got inkers like Murphy Anderson and Eric Shanower (which was rare). Dagnabit!

    ps I later acquired my own copy of this, in the 80s. Prof. Alan would be proud: 25 cents. Of course, back then, you could get a lot of Bronze Age material for less than 50 cents. Not everything had hit X-Men inflationary levels.

  4. I want to say we’ve been over this before, but I prefer the Golden Age origin for Aquaman because I see him as the surface world’s defender against menaces of the ocean. It makes him a sort of reverse Superman– an Earthling visitor to an alien environment empowered by that foreign place using his gifts to protect his people on the land. Aquaman’s Silver Age origin turns him into a Namor the Sub-Mariner who trades mania for depression. Aquaman should kick ass with civility and a smile, as he does here.

    I think you can blame Jack Schiff and Jack Miller for Aquaman devolving into fantasy as everyone else in the early Silver Age was being revived through greater interest in science fiction. They did the same sort of thing with Martian Manhunter and the very soft, vague semblance of sci-fi in the Batman titles (which at least has Edmund Hamilton.)

    I often blame the triangle number teams for killing broad interest in Superman for modern audiences, but I have to give Curt Swan his due… after thirty years of that, it’s no wonder DC was okay with Byrne pitching so much Superman lore into the bin. I don’t hate Swan. I just tolerate him.

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