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Friday, October 24, 2014

Number 1648: Sea Devils, alien abductees!

Sea Devils, written by editor Robert Kanigher and drawn by Russ Heath, was popular in the early sixties. Maybe it was that combination of the exotic, the deep sea diving and giant aliens and monsters they came up against that made them stand out.

Besides giants, DC Comics never shied away from big concepts, either. In this case a fleet of flying saucers steal our planet’s water. Of course our heroes, despite being no bigger than the aliens’ fingers, are able to return the seas and their contents. It amazes me what Kanigher could accomplish in so few pages. And of course, Russ Heath’s dramatic drawings are superb.

From Sea Devils #5 (1961):




















I showed another Sea Devil saga just over a year ago. (Correction: two years. See the comments below.) Click on the thumbnail.


6 comments:

M. Bouffant said...

Just over two yrs. ago, actually. (Time does fly, eventually.)

I could swear I've mentioned this before (probably right here) but the leader, his brawny friend & the blonde woman & her teen-age brother teamed up seem very familiar ...

Also noticed the proto-feminism you mentioned at the other story, w/ Judy enjoying the undersea equality flippers & a tank give her.

Pappy said...

M. Bouffant, two years ago? Time not only flies, it is supersonic. I appreciate you setting me straight on my calendar mistake. But I digress. I remember your comment about the similarity in team make-up to the Fantastic Four. Even Don Markstein's Toonopedia alludes to it in the entry on Sea Devils. To be fair, Sea Devils came first, in Showcase #27, cover dated August 1960, but obviously the Fantastic Four had the staying power. The undersea gimmicks were well played in Sea Devils, but the scope of the storytelling was limited by the setting.

Russ said...

Russ Heath's heavy contrasts and DC's canny coloring really mastered the limitations of newsprint. Still my favorite medium for comics, despite the destructive effects of time.

7f7f3e2a-4856-11e4-900a-bb8e57f8828f said...

Rascally thieves of the seven seas —from outer space, no less. Fortunately, our heroes were up to the task of saving the world as well as being just a tad smarter than the big space aliens. This is another fine example of what commenter Brian Barnes said a couple of weeks ago about DC comics in general concerning that Blackhawk story with the super-powered girl team member: plot reset button; anything amazing happens, it gets erased by the end of the story.

But, okay! It's still a fun read and the artwork by Russ Heath is quite good. I doubt I ever saw a Sea Devils story drawn by Heath as a kid. I would have really enjoyed it. Thanks for letting me enjoy it now, Pappy.

Pappy said...

7f7, you bring up a good point: the Sea Devils were "just a tad smarter than the big space aliens." Obviously most science fiction was Earth-centric, making human beings more noble and smarter than beings from another universe...even though those beings had the technology to travel through space and steal another planet's water. Any team that could pull off a repossession of all that water would deserve something a little more at the end, wouldn't you think? Like a medal hung around their necks by the president in the White House, or the Nobel Prize or something? Instead for the Sea Devils the reset button is hit (as you quote Brian Barnes, and thanks Brian, for the apt imagery), and a couple of pages later they are back at work saving the world from yet another menace.

Pappy said...

Russ, the poor condition of my copy of this issue shows in the trouble I had trying to make the scans brighter. "Destructive effects of time," indeed. My coverless rag is a good example of that. That is not to mention the spidery, thin lettering, which tended to fade faster than the artwork. I have always thought DC's coloring during this era was drab and muddy depending on the editor. Or maybe it is just because I'm in line for cataract surgery in a week or so and my dimmed eyesight has something to do with it.