Aquaman (vol.3) #2 (September, 1994)
Aquaman and Dolphin have been taken captive by a fella called Charybdis… that’s gotta be tough to say. Online pronunciation websites say “cherub-dee”… dunno if that’s right. Anyhoo… he reveals that he is draining them of their powers through an instrumentation process. He wishes to add their powers to his own. He reveals that his power-transfusion is only temporary, meaning that his “guests” will be permanently there to be siphoned from at will.
We also meet Charybdis’ wife Scylla. We learn that they were freelance terrorists who would do the dirty-work for interested parties who couldn’t risk getting their own hands dirty. Now, his goal is to… well, blow up the entire world by setting off every sunk nuclear submarine on the planet.
In a scene that really shows how disturbed Charybdis is… he blasts “Scylla” through the head with his badass gun. This woman was just somebody he’d hired to dress up like his wife, who in reality died a year prior “on the job”.
Aquaman uses this moment to break out of his bindings… Charybdis casually pulls a tranq gun off the wall and fires one off into Arthur’s chest. He then makes light of blowing the head off his “wife” while looking at Dolphin.
We shift scenes to join Garth… who I believe is still going by Aqualad at this point. He’s been injured and is convalescing in an underwater cave. A shadowy female figure swims up to guide Garth to where Aquaman is being kept. Garth believes this to be his former squeeze Tula, who I think we’d last scene during the Crisis on Infinite Earths some eight-years prior. She swims off before Garth can get a good look at her. Per her directions, he follows a one-eyed shark called Cron One-Eye.
Back with Aquaman… Charybdis is putting his inherited “powers” to the test. He drops a mouse into a tank full of piranhas and commands the hungry fish don’t sketetonize the poor rodent… it doesn’t go so well for “Mickey”.
Charybdis walks over and backhands Arthur… demanding to know why the fish didn’t listen to him. Much to Aquaman’s credit, he doesn’t roll his eyes and say “again with the ‘talking to fish’ crap???”, instead he lays it all out… he can make suggestions… but a fish is gonna do what a fish is gonna do. Especially a piranha!
Back with Aqualad, he’s trying to cut a deal with a pair of knucklehead dolphins to get inside the fortified structure. This is a cute scene where we can see what the dolphins think of the frantic “swimmer” standing before them.
Back inside, Charybdis is holding Dolphin’s (not the fish… er, mammals… well, she’s probably a mammal too… er… the “person” I guess) head precariously over the piranha tank… she’s so close to the buggers that her hair is in the water with them. Just before the baddie can give her a “dip”, the alarms begin to sound.
Outside, the dolphins have helped Garth get the attention of Monstro the whale… who is able to ram through the underwater fort’s door… this causes the facility to begin to flood. In all the confusion, Aquaman breaks out again… this time Charybdis doesn’t have any convenient tranq guns nearby!
Chaybdis makes haste and tries heading to his armory… only to find that Garth’s discovered it (and the nineties!) first. Garth starts blasting his newfound BFG causing all sorts of wonderful havoc.
The baddie’s got no choice but to flee. After an awkward introduction between Dolphin and Aqualad, Aquaman gives chase… ultimately finding his foe on a nearby landmass.
Aquaman and Charybdis enter into battle with neither really getting the better of it. At one point they are wrestling by the river, and Charybdis grabs Arthur’s left arm and holds it underwater… this just happens to be the same river he’d found his piranha pets in. There’s a bubbly stirring under the water… that quickly turns red.
Charybdis stands up to mock our man some more, however he is stopped in mid-sentence… by a bullet to the chest. Across the river, Dolphin is holding a smoking gun. Before he can act, Aquaman trips Charybdis into the river… rendering him into a mass of bloody bones in no time flat.
Dolphin heads over to Arthur to check on him… and it’s here we learn that during its dip, Aquaman’s hand was gnawed down to the bone.
This was a pivotal issue, and one of the few that I actually remember there being something of a stir over at the shop. DC was really going all out altering their main characters during the early nineties… Superman died, Batman got broke, and Hal Jordan lost his damned mind… Aquaman? Well, he gets his frickin’ hand eaten by piranhas! This, along with his long hair and beard really helped form my impression of the character.
This issue was a great one! I probably should have started at #1 if I was going to review this one, but whattayagonnado? Peter David does a great job of catching us up, and really sets the tone for what’s to come. He interjects his trademark humor into this deadly serious situation… awesomely done!
Martin Egeland is an artist that I only know from his time on Aquaman… or at least that’s all I can think of. His style is… soft-nineties. Like, there are many of the 1990’s trappings here, but not to the point of being “holy cow, 90’s!!!”. I really like his work here… it reminds me of Adam Pollina when he was on X-Force during their road-trip era, and to me, that’s a good thing.
If I were to pick any nits, and it’s a really silly one… I’d have preferred a less “giving it all away” cover. Though, if I’m being honest… it may only be “giving it all away” to people who already know what’s inside. Hard to say… I could be speaking outta my backside here. Wouldn’t be the first time!
Worth noting… I love what DC did with their lettercols heading into Zero Hour! That fading effect is just so cool! I remember we were all nervous about what was to come… we all thought this was going to be “our” Crisis on Infinite Earths… the way DC handled their “big guns” leading up to it really made it feel as though all bets were off!
Overall… this entire run is a beaut! Well worth a read through, if you ask me.
UPDATE: 7/25 – The man himself, Peter David offers up the proper pronunciation of our baddie via twitter. Thanks so much, Sir!