Monday, September 03, 2007

Ripples Through Time - 154

I'm reading every Aquaman solo adventure in publication order. After I read each story I will post the cover/splash page and a few thoughts on the story.

Adventure #231 Aquaman Splash Page
Adventure #231 (December 1956) - Three Fates For Aquaman

A computer predicts that Aquaman will die at the hands of a fish.

Aqua-Exclamations: "Great Catfish!"

Glove Color: Green.

Regular Supporting Cast: Topo

Quotefile: The Think Machine's predictions: "You will soon be 1,000 feet high in the air... you will sink a ship... and dying at the hands of a fish will be your final fate tomorrow!"

Finny Friends Report: On the splash page, Aquaman is menaced by a swordfish, octopus, whale, and shark. He rides his "pet octopus". Sea eagles lift Aquaman above the action so he can attack from the unexpected direction. Sponge fish block up the cracks in the ship, making it water-tight, and whales pull it out of the way of the typhoon underwater. Aquaman dodges a swordfish trying to deliver a message to him, then avoids a shark, whale, ray fish, and octopus on his way to the event. An octopus is using dye to write the words "Welcome Aquaman" in the water.

The computer is never referred to as a "computer" in the story. It's a "Think Machine". Like all good Silver Age computers, it has dials and knobs and lights and switches and a white-shirted balding scientist working the controls. It is apparently voice-activated, and also responds vocally with the predictions. Aquaman laughs off the predictions... until the first two come true.

The computer seems like a fairly logical tool. You feed it the "essential facts" and it responds with information about what will happen in the next 12 hours. I can see computers being used to model the weather, and assist with routes and such. But all Aquaman says is, "I'll be patrolling the East Coast, then I'm to be guest of honor at a seamen's benefit fair..." and he gets the detailed, if slightly misunderstood, prediction. Of the three predictions, the computer might have been able to make the last two if it had enough data about the weather conditions and what was planned for Aquaman at the fair. But the first prediction involved a hijacking, and unless whoever programmed the computer was in on it, that data shouldn't have been available. It's a magical computer.

Like in The Ocean Restaurant, Aquaman pulls a ship underwater to protect it from a typhoon.

Have you read this story? What do you think?