Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Russell Burbage - 1974

sgRussell Burbage I will never forget the fall evening in 1973 when the Brady Bunch Kids hosted ABC-TV's introduction to their new Saturday morning line-up. There was going to be a show called Super Friends that looked good. I was familiar with Superman, Batman, and Robin from their live-action re-runs, but I had no idea who Wonder Woman or Aquaman was. Up until that time I had come across the odd issue of Detective or Action, or The Avengers or
Spider-Man, but I was not a comic-book geek. Not yet.

When I saw that Alex Toth designed opening sequence to The Super Friends the next morning, however, I knew I was hooked. Each character's logo appears, followed by a dashing action sequence. Remember? For some reason, the introduction of Aquaman sticks with me to this day. First his logo flashes on the screen and the voice-over says something cool about, "Aquaman, King of the Seven Seas!" Then he appears, astride a sea horse I think, leading an army of octopi, sharks, whales, and fish. How cool was that?!? And the music...even now, I sometimes find myself humming The Super Friends' theme.

I don't know why I didn't realize that there were comic books to go along with this show, but for some reason it never occurred to me to go searching for comics. (Or maybe I did, and the only ones I could find were Ross Andru's Spider-Man and horror books...I definitely remember *them* around).

Flash forward about a year. One of my best friends brought a copy of Justice League of America #112 to school and showed it to me. The cover shouts out at you, "Here comes TV's Super Friends!" The lead story features the entire membership at that time, with Aquaman in a leading role. The creative team was Len Wein, Dick Dillin, and Dick Giordano (my eventual choice for best JLA creative team ever!). The story was the conclusion of the Injustice Gang fight from JLA #111. Quick recap: Libra uses The Injustice Gang to steal half the super-powers of six JLAers, and when the JLA defeats him, their powers disappear into the cosmos. In JLA #112 the entire membership debates whether to re-animate Amazo so he
(it?) can re-absorb their missing super-powers.

I had never seen any comic like this before. In this story no hero was all-powerful or "the star;" all these super-cool characters depended on each other! And one of the stronger and more dynamic of the group was the blonde guy in the orange and green suit. I bought the issue from my friend, tore out the subscription form in that issue, and never looked back.

Of course, the back-up reprint "Super Exiles of Earth" should have been the story I was paid closer attention to. Oh, Aquaman is featured in it, sure, but all he does is sit in the space ship and wait for his friends to have their adventure. (He doesn't have a secret identity, so he couldn't just put on a suit and go back to Earth like the rest of 'em??).

The first issue of JLA I got for my subscription was #115, which didn't feature Aquaman at all. And it's been like that ever since.

For a little while there, I thought everybody else knew Aquaman was a kick-ass great character, too...(sigh)


Anonymous said...

Man, I love that cover. Thanks for posting this, Rob.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, Russell, I remember that Saturday Morning preview show! I didn't recall that the Bradies hosted it but I do remember the clip from the Super Friends that they played.

Three huge floodgates at an imperiled dam need to be closed or the town will be flooded so Superman, Aquaman ,and Wonder Woman dive beneath the churning waters to close the gates by sheer brute force! Superman and Aquaman close their gates but a sudden surge of water sends Wonder Woman spinning away. The Man of Steel and the Sea King rescue the Amazing Amazon and close the final floodgate in unison!

I can't wait for that first season of Super Friends to be released on DVD!

Anonymous said...

YES! I *thought* there was something to do with a dam, but it's been so many years, I didn't want to go out on a limb with a possibly wrong memory. Thanks for backing me up on that! :-)