Adventure Comics #441
Title: The Pirate Who Plundered Atlantis!
Cover Title: The Pirate Who Plundered Atlantis!
Cover Date: September-October 1975
Anthology: 2 Stories
Other Stories: "The Star-Spangled Kid: Dead End Animals"
Writer: Paul Levitz, additional dialogue by David Michelinie
Art: Jim Aparo
Editor: Joe Orlando
Cover Price: $0.25
Page Count: 11 pages
On the splash page, Aquaman confronts an old-fashioned, hook-bearing, scuba-gear wearing buccaneer, who threatens the city of Atlantis with a high tech cannon from the deck of his undersea galleon if Aquaman takes "one more step!"
Cut to Aquaman on his Atlantean throne, flanked by an extremely portly Vulko, as he concludes negotiations with an "Ambassador Douglas" in full scuba gear from the surface world. His next supplicant, a rugged representative from the "guild of plankton farmers", is rudely interrupted by an armed assailant in pirate gear who threatens to take over the "undersea fishbowl - In the name of Captain Demo!" Aquaman handily dispatches the wretch, who surrenders and directs the Sea King’s attention to a large viewscreen, where the fearsome Captain Demo threatens to turn Atlantis to "slag" with his lasers.
Aquaman speeds off to combat his foe, summoning an octopus and several swordfish to his aid. A battle ensues aboard Captain Demo’s Underwater Galleon. Demo attempts to stun Aquaman with a gun which displaces the water and surrounds Aquaman with a bubble of air. But the good Captain has not done his homework, and Aquaman plunges through the air bubble and splashes the weapon out of Demo’s hands. Demo grabs mysteriously at his metal hook, and threatens Aquaman with it.
Cut to "several hours ahead", where Demo sits on the throne of Atlantis, the Atlanteans berate Aquaman and throw rocks at him, and Mera laments to Vulko that Aquaman must have lost his mind. Mera creates a hard water dome around the palace and attacks Demo and his men in the throne room. Aquaman swims in, punches Mera solidly, knocking her out, and carries her into the next room. The Atlanteans are disgusted with their Sea King turned traitor, who brings a huge oyster shell in tribute to King Demo. As Demo pries open the shell to find the pearl inside, it slams shut on his hook. Demo reveals his plot: hidden bombs controlled by a remote radio in his hook. Aquaman, having foiled his foe with a jamming device in the oyster, fights him hand to hand. Demo reveals yet another deadly (and supposedly waterproof) device, a laser blaster mounted in his sword! But the Sea King defeats him handily. While Aquaman turns his attention to Demo’s minions, the pirate himself manages to wake up and escape in his ship, to pester the Sea king another day.
The earnest and energetic artwork produced by Aparo in this, the first of a series of Aquaman headliner stories in the mid-seventies Adventure Comics, belies the utter silliness and vapidity of the stortyline. The efforts at narrative trickery through timeline manipulation collapse under the sheer implausibility of Demo’s gadgetry. An undersea wooden galleon? Scuba-pirates complete with polkadot scarves and bubble blowing blunderbusses? Dr. Seuss would have been a more fitting artist for this dalliance.
And the ploy of Aquaman submitting to Demo to the point of enduring rock barrages and even decking his own wife seems equally ridiculous. Why not simply frontally approach with a jamming device and corner the whole scurvy crew? Aquaman would never allow an escape route, either, had he planned this in advance.
"Captain Demo"?!? Puh-Lease!!! Luckily, his threatened return never materializes later in the series. Let’s hope he continues his plunge into the void of forgotten Silver Age villains.
The artwork is snappy Aparo, but is wasted on this storyline. The floating fingers, used so effectively in Flash and Detective Comics stories of the Silver Age, appear forced in this absurd context.
Other Features of the Book:
A goofy tale of "The Star Spangled Kid and the Dead End animals", and a Hostess Twinkies ad featuring SHAZAM fighting the "Minerva Menace!"
Pitch this one into a bottomless pit!