Kids, this month's issue of Batman reminds us:
The new Aquaman cartoon on HBO Max is good fun.
|Looking GOOD, Vulko.|
Sure, it's not as 'serious', as many people, including me, would like. Neptune knows, Aquaman always deserves to be taken seriously.
|"It's so good to you all and--hey, where's Peter...?"|
Particularly now that modern portrayals have earned him such consistent respect.
|Always with the hair.|
And, yes, it uses that weird art style that makes everything look chunky and ugly.
|"Thicc" if you prefer.|
But I consider all that dressing. I look at it more mythostructurally ('cuz I was taught that way) and on that account it's pretty much nailing it.
Aquaman (no civilian names are bothered with in the show, probably to keep in similar for any kids) has his standard backstory: son of an Atlantean princess and a human lightkeeper, raised on land, heir to the throne of Atlantis, defeats his half-brother Orm in ritual combat. He's worried that he doesn't know how to be king and that the Atlanteans won't accept him, a lot of Atlantean customs are unknown and seem weird to him, and he perceives problems and solutions they do not precisely because of his different perspective. His girlfriend is Mera, a fiery punch-first kind of gal, and his advisor is Vulko, who's focused on the king's administrative role rather than heroics. Aquaman's powers sometimes get laughed at even by Atlanteans, but invariably come in handy.
The first two episodes pit him against Ocean Master (more of a running joke than a threat), a Russian undersea driller who is basically a redux of The Scavenger, and a truly horrifying version of the Fisherman.
|It IS, after all, from James Wan and you can tell.|
Along the way there's an overarching plot involving some strange crystals that will surely culminate in some grand scheme where all the villains team up.
Give it a try; it's not the Aquaman you grew up with, but I think you can enjoy it nonetheless, but the mark of a truly mythic character is that they can be presented in various ways and still remain true to their core.
|"But... I was working on this magic trick where I pull a small fish out of my ear for the hotel talent showcase!"|
Let's see what the ingenious snare is, shall we?
|Ah; of course.|
Yes, darts. What better way for an Ace Investigator to determine whether a man has the strength to throw a ski-pole 50 feet at a moving target to pierce snow-wear and the human heart? Frankly, unless the man's dart throw EXPLODES a man-sized hole in the wall with its force, I'm not sure what playing darts will prove, other than that he's played darts before. Let's find out.
TALK TO THE HAND, SPEED.
I guess we won't see. Not only did the (still unnamed) suspect not fall for the trap, he casually demeaned Speed in the process, which is no mean feat! Move over, Hapsu; could this man finally be the arch-nemesis Speed Saunders deserves?
Speed is utterly flummoxed; no one has ever defied his will before!
|It's like Inspector Clouseau contemplating the Pink Panther thief.|
|This is going to be oomphy.|
|I'd be amazed if he recognizes it as anything at all, Speed.|
|Good luck, indeed, Margot.|
|"In time"? In time for WHAT, Speed? To save your ski dummy's life?|
|If he'd only had a brain.|
|Um, falling 12, maybe 16 feet, into a pile of snow isn't exactly a 'death plunge'. Not with Speed's thighs.|
|THE POWER OF THE SUN, IN THE PALM OF MY HAND.|
|Black eye's a nice touch.|
|The part of Margot Lee will be played by television's June Lockhart.|
|That's the first thing Speed's said that's actually made any sense.|
|"Mr. Saunders, will you... judge me harshly if I say I'm in love with you at first sight?"|
"I already judged you before you even spoke."
"Then I have nothing to lose and everything to gain!"
There's a lot to unpack here in this panel. First, Speed introduces himself (a courtesy, since everyone knows who he is). He implies he carried the body three miles, uphill, in the snow; Speed is fit A.F., and must have thighs of steel. He says "it looks like an accident"; a corpse with a ski pole embedded in its heart "looks like an accident." Look, I'm no Ace Investigator, but I simply know of no accidents that could create this corpse, and watching industrial safety videos is one of my hobbies.
Okay, fine; that's not true... we ALL know of an accident that could create this corpse because we've all SEEN it:
|I mean, who DOESN'T remember Molly Post getting impaled by a hovercraft-hurled ski-pole in Batman #244 (September 1972)?|
But it's a pretty safe bet that there are no hovercrafts in this Speed Saunders' story.
So the one last thing to notice in that panel is that Speed promises to "investigate in a routine way", which is probably the funniest thing he's ever said. Sure ya will, Speed; I look forward to seeing what you consider "routine".
Apparently the first step in routine investigation is freaking out Ms Sigma.
|"Do you have some sort of neurological problem that makes it hard to hold on to your handkerchiefs, Ms. Sigma?"|
|Whaddayaknow; another reformed female gang member willing to inform for Speed! I think he gets a bulk rate.|
Speed and the girl become swiftly acquainted, because that's how Speed does everything.
|"I'll hunker down to give your word balloon some more room, because I'd REALLY like to move this along..."|
Speed believes this whole frame-up story rather than asking how the (still unnamed, by the way) murderer managed to steal one of her handkerchiefs because he's already seen how careless she is with them, although why she so vehemently denied it was hers is never addressed and is completely unnecessary to the story. It's just one of those Speed Saunders details that make no sense. Creator Fred Guardineer, after leaving comics, had a solid 20-year career in the postal service, and, while I'm sure that was a healthy decision for him and his family, I'm saddened that it deprived us of two decades worth of little mysteries like "why did Margot Lee freak out at a stranger returning her handkerchief on a train" that only Fred Guardineer could casually toss away like, well, like a discarded handkerchief.
|Now I'm cold, I puff my pipe, but no one's there to see;|
I ponder on the lesson of my life's insanity.
So now Margot Lee is going to be Saunders-Girl! Will she get a puce dress and a crimson barcode scarf, or a cape made out of drapes and a complementarily horrible ski outfit?
|Well, at least she got lunch.|
Mere skiing bores Speed since it's no challenge to his thighs of steel, so he takes Margot to see where he found the corpse. At least there's still some blood to look at.
|Maybe the killer can tesseract, too, Speed. Maybe YOU'RE the killer. That would save time!|
|That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard of. Shut up, Margot; you're not fit to be Saunders-Girl!|
Second, you just cannot throw a ski st-- POLE that way. Their balance makes that impossible; anyone who's ever held one would know that. Certainly not with the force required to traverse that distance and --with accuracy!-- pierce a snowsuit and a man's heart. The idea is ludicrous.
For god's sake, Fred, your father was a DARTMOUTH man ('03), how do you not know that?! If you could kill people THAT way, Winter Carnival would be a bloodbath! And much more interesting.
|Speed fact: that's the ACTUAL size of Speed's legs.|
This theory is so patently absurd thatSpeed immediately embraces it wholeheartedly. This is what happens when Speeds tries to figure things out WITHOUT using a library.
|They're supposed to be sharpened, Speed; that's how they poke through the snowpack.|
|No, no, no, no, no, no, no. No.|
|Speed's fashion sense was timelessly bad.|
|Clearly, this is going to be oomphy.|
|Pictured: cold stare.|
|I appreciate the caption. I would have assumed it was an extra-large nacho.|
The Face of Disdain versus the Face of Judgement! Which will prevail? Meanwhile, Speed leaps on the Universe's clue.
|An M! Or a W. Or a E. Or a 3. Or a capital Σ. I'm sure Speed will guess correctly.|
Well, it's not a red crescent, but it's something, and I'm sure Speed will make the most of it, by... ACCUSING THE WOMAN OF DROPPING IT.
|"I DIDN'T DO IT, OFFICER!"|
This being a Speed Saunders story, I must interpret the strange positioning of her fingers as a CLUE. I say it symbolizes a FORKED TONGUE, which means she's LYING. Which is a good bet, since we saw her drop the handkerchief.That counterfactual is all Speed needs! Only Speed can contradict the Universe and get away with it, so now he's going to hover about this woman like a bad hat (a feeling she's already used to).
|Don't worry, Speed; there'll be a corpse along soon enough, I'm sure.|
Later, while stalking her...
|Little does he know he's actually staring at an unusually large Hopper painting.|
Speed gets bored with spying and tesseracts immediately into skiing, hoping to find a body in the snow. And guess what?
|"My Speed-sense is tingling!"|
Finally, Speed's (comparative) patience pays off: a corpse!
|Speed's an aficionado of unusual murder weapons. Like sleighs and mannequin hands.|
|The reason Speed dresses like that is to make it impossible for your eyes to focus on the clues.|
|Get some help, Speed.|