Fire & Water #172 – Aquaman and Plastic Man in Adventure Comics

Rob welcomes returning guest Max Romero (IT’S PLASTIC MAN) to talk about the Aquaman and Plastic Man solo features from ADVENTURE COMICS #s 475-476!

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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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9 responses to “Fire & Water #172 – Aquaman and Plastic Man in Adventure Comics

  1. So I also bought these comics when they came off the shelf, mostly because of a Plastic Man mania that I had back then. Alas, I think these were in the ‘big box of trashed comics’ that were at my parents house and subsequently disappeared mysteriously. So I haven’t read them in many many years.

    That said, when you were discussing them, the images came back pretty vividly which means somewhere in the corner of my mind, they stuck. So kudos to the creators.

    A couple of things.

    1) The Plas comic is indeed a hoot. For me it has the feel of Dick Tracy meets the Marx Brothers. It is insane fun which you shouldn’t take too seriously. I think there was a villain whose face looked like a brick wall mixed in all these stories. As you said, Staton is a natural for this sort of story. (Hard to believe they picked him to draw a handful of American Flagg issues, a book definitely not fit for his style.)

    2) Back then I thought of Aquaman as ‘the guy who talked to fish’ so reading these first two issues gave me a little more respect for the character. The page where he beats up the Scavenger is fantastic. But maybe he lays it on a little too thick? I was waiting for him to say ‘I’m good enough. I’m strong enough. And doggone it, people like me.’ ( I suppose if you have to try to convince a young Anj that the character is something, a speech like that is needed.

    But the real kapow was the parade of sea creatures at the end of the second issue. Even I recognized how great that was as a kid.

    The Giordano art is fantastic. The first page of the second issue with the pink Mera ‘surprint’ pic is really evocative of Nick Cardy’s cover to Aquaman #40 (

    And great Bolland cover. He has drawn Supergirl once, for the cover of a UK trade.

    3) Finally, the Starman feature was my introduction to Steve Ditko! Back then I did not like his art at all. Now I see the mastery. It is a great counterpart to these stories as it is really a space opera with powers, politics, and philosophy.

    Thanks for covering these! Bringing me back to a simpler time!

    1. My noted sympathies aside, it feels wrong that Brian Bolland has drawn J’Onn J’Onzz at least thrice off the top of my head versus once for Supergirl and twice for Aquaman (#39 of the Sub Diego series.) Of course, Wonder Woman was much blessed on the Bolland front (which doesn’t come up nearly as often as it should.)

      I read one or two issues of this brief run, and I definitely bought Adventure Comics #476 during my pre-PAD Aquaman back issue collecting spree of 1994 (which is also when I got my set of the O’Neill/Nasser Manhunter from Mars back-up strip before that aspect mattered to me.) I recall liking the Poseidon story and nothing else (sorry, Max.) I’d like to say at least we can all agree that Dial “H” For Hero was a ruiner of series and overall cancellation bait, but I know some knob will just show up to defend it (yet I’M the contrarian.)

  2. ^Anj, Giordano was editor of that particular Aquaman issue, so he was swiping from work under his own watch!

    I’m not sure how I missed out on this era of Adventure Comics. I remember seeing the ads, but I don’t recall seeing any of the issues from this era. Never saw the series much when it switched to Dial “H” for Hero either. Maybe it had a lower print run than some of the other DC titles?

    The Giordano art is gorgeous. Mera has rarely looked better, and considering she was regularly drawn by Nick Cardy, that’s saying TONS!!!

    Scavenger has a different outfit than what I’m used to. Wonder why this look didn’t show up in Who’s Who?

    Staton was really born for this kind of blending of straight super heroics and bigfoot cartooning. And of course, he’s now drawing the Dick Tracy strip, so this was good training for him!

    You guys had a vocal team-up in the stinger with Norman (Aquaman) Alden also voicing Plastic Man!

    Great show!


  3. I came across these era Adventure Comics at a convention around the time the Robinson/Harris Starman was in full swing. I could only afford a few of them (because Australia) so settled on the first four to feature Starman (467 – 470) and the final 2 Starman issues that will be covered by you and Max in your next outing. I will say that 478 with the cover of Aquaman torn between two disasters was an instabuy.

  4. Great podcast Rob – have never read these stories but you and Max gave a great synopsis for the 4 stories. Just saw the sample pages that you put up and the art by Dick Giordano is gorgeous.

  5. Great episode Rob, and it’s always good to hear from Max. I also bought those books as they came out, and would love a regular anthology of such variety. I especially liked the JMD/Giordano Aquaman, there was a lyricism to the script and art that just worked.

    Staton really was a perfect Plas artist, he has the sensibility for the humorous nature of Pesky Pasko’s entertaining tales. Hurry up and bring us part two of this show!

    I just wish you’d done Starman too. Poor guy, totally left out

  6. Great episode, Rob & Max! Love this run of Adventure Comics!! While I had some concerns with Aquaman’s parents and Poseidon in this era, overall it’s thrilling and gorgeous! Speaking of gorgeous, Mera is smokin’ hot in those sample pages! Yowza!

    And Max’s coverage of Plastic Man makes me see these stories in a whole new light! While his comics are fun, they should be looked at more closely. There is some real depth there that I never noticed. Great coverage!

    Thanks for allowing me the week off!!!

  7. Late comment, but I thought of this episode today. I just bought all three volumes of Showcase Presents Aquaman, and I feel like the sea creatures parading past Aquaman in Adventure 476 must be a callback to the origin story in volume 1, which features a very similar panel. The story shows Aquaman as a child, thinking about how the sea creatures have pledged total obedience to him. The story in 476 shows Aquaman grown up and more thoughtful about his relationship with them. If they ever did an anthology like Martin suggests, it would be cool to bookend it, beginning with the origin and ending it with the De Matteis story.

    Also, there’s an exploration of Aqualad’s mental powers in Teen Titans Spotlight #18, after they were screwed up during an earlier encounter with Mento. Aqualad comes to realize that his powers now require him to work with the sea creatures as equals, speaking to them in terms they’ll understand instead of simply commanding them. Even though it’s a Millennium tie-in, it’s also a good story by the underrated Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn.

    Also, obviously, great episode!

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