Friday, June 24, 2005
So, some people thought I'd forgotten my "Forgotten Fictionopolises" series.
Fools! The utter fools!
Decades before half of San Diego sunk into the sea, Aquaman patroled: NEW VENICE!
In September 1959 (Adventure Comics #264), DC introduced New Venice in "Aquaman and His Sea-Police!"
New Venice was "a coastal town", whose streets, as a result of a seaquake, were just under sealevel. It's unclear from the story whether the town changed its name after the incident, or whether the founding fathers were just ASKING for trouble. The latter, I bet.
This being the Silver Age, in the first two panels we learn the situation, the reason for Aquaman's involvement, and the nature of the problem he must solve. Gods, I miss Silver Age pacing. These days, if a waitress asks Aquaman whether he wants coffee or tea, we won't hear his answer until four months later (during which time it will have been spoiled by Previews: "Look for Aquaman to take a few lumps in October...but no milk or lemon!")
Naturally, the little seven-page story focuses on how ingeniously Aquaman uses his finny friends (I love saying that phrase) to foil neovenetian scofflaws (I love saying that phrase even more). But it adds a nice touch at the end. The city has become accustomed to its new waterways and doesn't want to give them up, so when the water starts to recede, Aquaman rearranges the sea to keep them waterlogged. Obviously, the town's Tourism Bureau is more on the ball than the Homeowners Association.
In 1980, Crazy Bob Rozakis revisited New Venice (World's Finest #263), where they've constructed an Aquaman Museum (a la Central City); isn't that cute? In subsequent issues, Arthur and Mera move into town, and Aquaman kicks Dr. Light's behind for him. Light had the brilliant idea of attacking Aquaman with a device powered by FISH; geez, it's almost like somebody lobotomized the guy, or something!
The coolest thing that happened in New Venice was Black Manta's attempt to blow it up with a nuclear missile, while Mera died or went crazy again or the like. Don't ask.
New Venice (now clarified as being in Florida) returned in the 1986 Aquaman mini-series (you know, the one with the pretty blue outfit), courtesy of the late and lamented Neal Pozner. And if you comb through your back issues of the Justice League Animated comic book, you can see that New Venice is there, too; it shows up when Batman's doing some research on Aquaman.
It was a very clever idea (no matter what H says) to create an American city that Aquaman could police while still living in the sea. That's why we now have Sub Diego. Sub Diego is much more interesting than New Venice, but because it's underwater things move MUCH more slowly there, and it takes four months to get a cup of tea.
But let's have DC acknowledge that New Venice still exists. And it doesn't need Aquaman to be its hero; there are lots of good superfish in the sea. Who do YOU think should patrol New Venice?