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CSBG Archive

I Love Ya But You’re Strange – Aquaman, the Human Cheat Sheet

Every day this August I’ll be spotlighting strange but ultimately endearing comic stories, one a day (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of past installments of this feature.

Today we look at the Aquaman story from 1960’s Adventure Comics #278, where Aquaman decides to help Aqualad cheat on a test.

Robert Bernstein probably drew this story and Ramona Fradon definitely handled the artwork. The conceit of the tale is that Aquaman is enrolling Aqualad into school.

Aqualad is a fine student…

However, right before his entrance exam he suffers a severe blow to the head that messes with his memory and he can’t remember any of the answers. Despite the fact that this is obviously grounds for delaying the exam, the principal chooses not to, under the theory that Aqualad could be faking. What a diiiiiick.

So, of course, the only thing left for Aquaman is to cheat!

I love that the masthead they found was identical to the Mona Lisa!

When all is said and done…

If Aqualad just thought that it was a funny coincidence that eels formed a frame around a masthead that looked like the Mona Lisa when the answer to the question was the Mona Lisa then perhaps his brain trauma is more severe than we first thought!!

30 Comments

I love how human the faces on those sea creatures are, especially in that last panel.

Aquaman, despite being treated by a joke character by many, has had a lot of great artists work on him, huh? Fradon, Aparo, Cardy….I’m sure I missed a few greats…

randypan the goatboy

August 15, 2011 at 5:45 am

I always thought it was Speedy that was hooked on drugs…” isnt it weird aquaman that these fish just randomly strted helping me with my test?Its almost like there was some force…maybe their king who commands them telepathically, guiding me through the test”…You bet minnow…with your dumb ass

Ohhhhhhh that Aquaman! He thinks the rules don’t apply to him. Jerk.

I wanted to add…man, people are right when they say the quality of education has really gone down. I didn’t know most of those answers, and that’s what kids were learning in school that young back then?

For example I never knew were the word “News” came from.

Okay, I just looked it up online and the News thing is a legend that’s been disproven several times.

Typical old school DC, spreading misinformation as fact :)

“8 and 8… making 88!”

Unfortunately, Aqualad failed math.

Aqualad sitting there pondering while fish build things… How long was the teacher giving him to answer?

Anyone notice how the teacher keeps calling him “Aqualad” instead of Garth? I mean, it’s not like the Aqua-duo were worried about secret identities or anything.

“How long was the teacher giving him to answer?”

That’s the first thing I thought. It’s got to take a good half-hour for those fish to salvage the Mona Lisa lookalike and form a frame around it. Was the teacher taking a nap?

Aqualad WAS his name back then, Adam.

interesting that aquaman found a new way to use his powers helping aqua lad with his entrance exam espically the fish being able to form the mona lisa. though one wonders why the teacher did not tell aqua lad to stop looking out the window at the sea. thus proving aqua man is not above looking at taking short cuts like cheating on a test. or in that case trying to get a screwed up memory like aqua lad to work again.

I’ll give Aqualad thinking the Mona Lisa bit was a coincidence. But to think that eels accidentally formed a compass, including clearly spelling the words “North”, “South”, “East”, and “West”?

As for Aquaman helping Aqualad cheat, to be fair he only does it after the teacher’s plan to rig the test fails. So, yeah…uhm, that totally justifies it…uhm, by making sure that Aqualad gets into the class that he might not have deserved to have gotten into in the first place… Still, Aquaman didn’t pretend to kill a guy in order to get an obsessed woman to stop obsessing over him, so that at least puts him above Superman.

Daniel O' Dreams

August 15, 2011 at 11:22 am

Aren’t there any schools in Atlantis? You know, ones where he doesn’t have to dive into the ocean every hour?
Are the people of Atlantis uneducated or do they just prefer homeschooling?

And yes I know the obvious “Schools of fish” answer. ;-P

So, did the fact that Aqualad passed the test convince the principal that the kid was faking all along?

“I was right! I knew you were faking! Welcome to the school!”

LOL

Newsflash, Aquaman and the 1960’s educational system, “NEWS” doesn’t come from “North, East, West, South”. Current theory notes that it likely comes from a pluralization of “new” (as in these are the new things of note). Folk etymology acronyms are a pet peeve of mine (e.g. ‘posh’ and ‘fornication under consent of the king/for unlawful carnal knowledge’)

Is Aquaman really a human cheat sheet, or is he more of a, I dunno, homo mermanus* cheat sheet? An Atlantean cheat sheet? A half-human cheat sheet?

*And yeah, I know that’s Marvel terminology, but still.

Newsflash, Aquaman and the 1960?s educational system, “NEWS” doesn’t come from “North, East, West, South”. Current theory notes that it likely comes from a pluralization of “new” (as in these are the new things of note). Folk etymology acronyms are a pet peeve of mine (e.g. ‘posh’ and ‘fornication under consent of the king/for unlawful carnal knowledge’

“Newsflash” was originally an acronym of “North, East, West, South, From Land And Sea, Hark!”

I just made that up, so it’s a fact!

As can be seen by reading Queen Victoria’s diary, standard usage in the mid-19th century had “news” as plural, as in “The news from America today are dreadful”.

Sometimes you just have to love the Silver Age.

This is not one of those times.

Ohhhhhhh that Aquaman! He thinks the rules don’t apply to him. Jerk.

Well, he’s a king. Technically, the rules are whatever he says they are.

sooo…it should be a quiet day, huh? No supervillains to face.

“He must be a sea king.”
“How can you tell?”
“Well, he hasn’t got eel shit all over him.”

Heh, I love it. As a kid, wouldn’t you have liked to have a superhero help you pass a really hard test? :D

Still, considering Aqualad was a superhero’s sidekick, you’d think the principal would be more willing to believe his excuse, especially if Aquaman himself asked him to. With his good grades, it would be very strange for Aqualad to not want to take the exam.

@buttler – Ok, I am totally going to spread the word about the etymology of “newsflash”. Must be true because old-timey folks always said things like “Hark!” since they didn’t have cellphones and the internet.

Robert Bernstein probably drew this story and Ramona Fradon definitely handled the artwork.

I think you mean Bernstein wrote the story?

I always find it interesting in old Aquaman stories how Aquaman was able to make fish, sharks and whales call a truce and coexist. Did the sharks keep from attacking the others so long as Aquaman was controlling them or at least present? Did they agree to go vegetarian in exchange for being allowed to hang with Aquaman?

Also, does Aquaman just talk to sealife or does he actually forcibly control them? Do they have the option of just saying no?

randypan the goatboy

August 16, 2011 at 9:53 am

No one answered the real burning question though…why was aqualad in school in the first place? And will this story be relevant in september?…is it relevant now?…How did aquaman know what questions were going to be on the test?

“Aren’t there any schools in Atlantis? You know, ones where he doesn’t have to dive into the ocean every hour?
Are the people of Atlantis uneducated or do they just prefer homeschooling?”

Aquaman and Aqualad weren’t living in Atlantis yet at this point. Aquaman was kind of an outsider to Atlantis at the time, helping them from time to time but spending most of his time out in the greater sea having adventures. Aqualad had been cast out of Atlantis for having purple eyes and a strange phobia of fish (No, seriously).

I actually like this period of Aquaman a little better than after he became king of Atlantis, because during this period he actually got to interact with normal people.

“Aqualad WAS his name back then, Adam.”

Well, I’ll be dipped. Apparently it was. I looked through Aqualad’s first appearance in my Showcase Presents Aquaman vol. 1 and it seems that they did not give him a regular name yet.

Aquaman knew what questions were on the test because he was standing outside the window listening to the teacher read them. You can see him lurking outside in some of the panels.

Considering the teacher was rigging things for Aqualad from the start, making sure he knew all the answers to everything in the last day’s “review” session, maybe she saw Aquaman lurking and decided to be extra-loud.

[…] I Love Ya But You’re Strange – Aquaman, the Human Cheat Sheet (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com) […]

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