A 70th Birthday - And I Missed It.
in the beach's shallowest waters
Art by Adams & the late, great Giordano.
Fear not, for, once again the most devoted Aquafan of all did not fail at the task and he (yes, an HE! You didn't think I meant that Eskimo Girl, did you?) he sure did remember to make quite the splash over it last September 25th - so what can I possibly add to what has already been said, collected, fished out from the depths of the seven seas?
Well, quite a lot, fear not for a single second about that either, now!
1941-2011... Yup, that makes seventy alright!
I am ever impressed though by TAS' reach and devotion to this demented fixation: the aqua fixation! Sure, water is life and is vital for us all - aqua-detractors or not! Sure, the appeal of the sea is pure magic and it embues of its magic all manners of characters that take to it or claim to originate from it... Sure, in AQ's specific case (as it should be - we're talking about his birthday, man! Although we missed the boat, four long months ago!) he has already accumulated an enormous mythology in his relatively short lifespan (according to the comicsvine, AQ is in the top 60 characters whose adventures have been the most chronicled since the very dawn of these silly things dubbed ''comic-books'' at first. With such a ranking, AQ closely follows stalwarts such as Batty -duh- and Soupesy and Spidey and Wolvie and Huey, Dewey, Louie and the rest! He's right up there with Captain America, Cyclops, Hulk, Archie Andrews and Donald Duck. Donald, who first appeared in a book titled ''The Adventures of Mickey Mouse'' way back then, actually comes in at number FIVE - having distanced that rat by over 1500 stories! So many alleged ''great silver age characters'' still have not reached that plateau! AQ is in that elite group with over 2000 appearances; something legendary characters such as The Phantom and Judge Dredd have achieved, but also other less, ah, ''iconic'' ones such as Reggie Mantle, Gyro Gearloose, Rogue and Minnie Mouse. You're in great company there, AQ! Keep it up.) Sure, it is all very impressive for damn sure... But there is a limit to everything (even though DC bravely and boldly claimed, back in the eerie eighties, that there was ''no limit to the excitement'' - or something to that effect, eeriely close to that, along those lines? But never mind that now...) and, milestone anniversaries are often forgotten, even though they are milestones - didn't I just forget one myself here? Yup - I sure did! Sorry, aqua and mer-folks!
A seventieth birthday is something to be proud of indeed, in all honesty: so many have never come even close to that (we'll talk about that shortly enough here...) and so few have reached this stage in life looking as good, also! Heck, it most probably was no coincidence at all, after all, that Adams and Giordano drew AQ to resemble so much the late patriarch of TV's Dynasty, Blake Carrington (aka John Forsythe) - for, as we well know, there are no coincidences! They might well have had the, ah, foresight (pun fully intended) to predict that AQ (or should I say A.C. for this very specific occasion) would grow old so gracefully as old B.C. (heh-heh) there... But that is another... theory!
Hence it is the 70th. For this momentous occasion, therefore, that other aqua-site (TAS - not associated with tapas) had a long, extra-long cast of characters -both real and unreal- wishing AQ a happy anniversary. Not birthday - it is an anniversary, career anniversary, hello? For that is what it really is, yes: the 70th anniversary of his first appearance, first published adventure, first ''official'' act of heroism in print...!
Nothing less - nothing more than that either!
We are talking about a character whose first appearance was impressive, too: he was vastly different, but his creators had the right idea that a guy capable of withstanding the vast pressures of the oceans was most likely immensely strong, powerful (as a tugboat - if not a locomotive?) and surely bulletproof too! Ah, if Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger were alive to tell you now...!
But they are no longer around - TAS had to scour the seven seas to find other suitable testimonials, sincere admirers and the like - and that he did! He surely did...
Hence, assembled for the occasion were our hero's extended supporting cast (even including the reimagined, reworked oddest of sidekicks: Cal Durham, now the new Aqualad!) which forms quite the dysfunctional reconstructed Aqua Family all right...! We are talking about the new Aquagirl here, original Aqualad-turned-Tempest Garth (always thought that was a very odd Atlantean name: ''Garth'' - gee! How unimaginative of the DC writers of the day...) the charming queen wifey Mera and MORE...! I suppose even the slain Aqua Baby got reborn, somehow, through the many tides and tall tales that came the fans' way, through the years...
TAS (not Taz) also obtained the heartfelt (?) well wishes from Alan Ritchson, the proud actor (proud in all senses of the word!) who got to portray the Sea King on the small screen most recently...
He even got good words from many creators from various eras and regimes over at the dreadful corporation over there - you know which one; the one that handles AQ's affairs...!
And he even got testimonials from Seaworld's Aquaman and Mera impersonators...!
Impressive, all-around - almost as much as the heartfelt (but unofficial since not commissioned by the publisher) introduction to the A:DOAP TPB written due to the very expeditive, very corporate approach taken by DC when they reprint old books that fans care a hell of a lot about, such as that aqua-fare right there... Fans and loyalists care about this stuff - maybe too much, in fact - and several of them are completists who have clamored for these reprints for numerous years. The brain trust behind TAS, Rob Kelly, cares more than most of even those, as evidenced by this daring (if not distasteful and, ultimately, sacrilegious and obscene!) use and application of the word "shrine"... But one cannot truly blame fans such as Rob to care so much about it - for I used to care just as much myself. And somewhere deep within me, there is still that little boy rejoicing that his childhood hero figure (read "action figure" - literally) is collecting honors, accolades and some grey hairs even...!
A fan just like those ''completists'' we just spoke of, put together this playlist that begins with Aquaman's ''rousing song of heroism'' - and I simply had to get the embedding code for this post, as it perfectly fits the bill for this raucous and joyous occasion... Let's watch:
But enough about AQUAMAN!
Now back to our own bellybutton here for a second (je m'en fous complètement de toutes les accusations de nombrilisme - compris?) and let us analyse the why (tem que ter uma explicaçâo - nâo é?) and how (I guess) of this forgetfulness on our aquamusing part(s)... How indeed to explain this complete bypassing of the event, considering that we can count and know fully well that AQ was born in 1941 (though the conceiving took longer than nine months, for damn sure, and since we are dealing with a four-color wonder here, we can realistically say that he was born the moment either Mort Weisinger or Paul Norris thought of an instantaneously (for born straight into adulthood and ready-to-fight form) 30-something muscled-up valiant fellow hailing from the seas and willing to champion a good cause such as bashing nazis in the mug! That alone could have been coming as early as 1939 indeed - on the very day the war began - spurred on not one iota by any silly unproven timely competition but really by the likes of Sinbad, Odysseus/Ulysses, Jason and the Argonauts, viking lore, Lusitanian seafarers, Gilgamesh and various other influences...! Verily, the "imitative creative process" is far more obvious and apparent that way than any of those other ways some allegedly marvelous minds imply it to have gone...! But we are digressing again - about things we have digressed about at length already, time and again, over all those years...! Enough, already, indeed!
It is perplexing though -to say the least- that someone so much in the know about it all completely forgets the Birthday - especially as significant a b-day as a seventieth definitely has got to be. Can it mean that, quite possibly indeed, to some depth of our psyche and in the far reaches of our soul here, we have finally turned a page and allowed the importance of this make-believe "legend" to sink down to a level of lesser importance in the Grand Scheme of All Things Aquatic? (And believe you me: all things can be said to be aquatic to one degree or another! But that is another story too...)
The facts are here, though - and in our complete (and quite disarming, you must admit) honesty, we at aquamusings confess to having totally forgotten about the 70th, about DC overall, about the whereabouts, actions and adventures of our favorite four-color hero, even!
Some of it can be explained by the sheer time-consuming routine of our days: one has not the time to remember everybody's and everything's BIRTHDAY, for crying out loud - that is one of the primary appeals of sites such as Facebook; they give us helpful reminders about those things! But then, one has got to be friends with the person or entity for it to work. And, no, we are not ''friends'' with any too-obviously imaginary character on Facebook - we draw the line there! Not on Twitter, but there, on FB, yes! Hence, we had no reminder whatsoever as the date approached... Not making up any excuses here; just citing facts!
Aside from the heavy routine taking its toll and, perhaps, the turning-of-the-page syndrome, one could evoke also a change of heart in favor of the real, true and uncrowned king of... diving, as it is.
Patrick Musimu passed away on this year of our Lord 2011 - as Aquaman turned the cornerstone mark of seventy, the real-life Deep Sea Diving Marvel (pun not intended) and Freediver King died suddenly at the age of 41, at the peak of his career. He obviously found his demise while training for more freestyle dives, during which he would only hold his breath for record times. Observers believed that Patrick's anatomy was somehow different, enabling him to slow down his metabolism to the point that he was in no danger of anoxia, or lack of oxygen to his system. Cruder observers could pretend that he resembled more closely a Namor than an Aquaman with his typical, stereotypical even, swimmer's physique. The truth is that Namor looks outright alien-like, especially in his early appearances and consummate design (by the character's own creator, Bill Everett! If Bob Kane got Batman right with the first pencil stroke, you gotta believe Bill, hailing from Maine and with a degree, got his misbegotten anti-hero right from the get-go too - no?!? Hence Nay-More is no human hybrid mutie: he is outright alien outlandishness!) and so, if anything at all, Patrick Musimu was what a real-life Aquaman was supposed to be like, and Stan Lee's Superhumans show on the History Channel acknowledged that, shortly before Patrick's untimely demise. Ironic that the link between super-heroes and him had to be made - by Lee himself, on top of everything. It wasn't that long ago at all that Stan Lee was hired by DC to give them his take on what an ''Aquaman'' was supposed to be like, among others... What came of it was parts Marvel's Hydro-Man and parts the original concept from the 1940s, which is where a resemblance with Patrick Musimu can be traced, if one tries hard enough... After all, early interpretations of the character had AQ as a freediving adventurer-type, enabled to immerse himself into deep waters for long periods of time thanks to science, nothing more. There was only a timid visit to Atlantis early on - Atlantean ruins, spotted and explored not unlike a Captain Nemo or a Tintin would have done...! He would have grown into an eco-hero with time, surely - but little else. That would have been closer to a Patrick Musimu than Namor will ever be. And, just like the ''Sea King'' does, Patrick Musimu had a wife and one child. Just like AQ, Patrick's demise came out of nowhere - while AQ got better from his... However, in real life, only Jesus-Christ Himself could accomplish that feat.
Patrick Musimu was an African descent, and so he already communed better with the environment than most. Patrick was an advocate for cleaner seas too, sure, but was more outspoken about other causes as he was the godfather of Doctors Of The World, among other things. He would speak of inner depths instead of exploring the ocean's - he would quote the philosophy of the greats such as Confucius and his famous "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand."
In real life, an Aqua man such as Patrick Musimu would have had only one goal to achieve: surpass himself. One of his quotes says it all: accept no limits, he would conclude. He wasn't looking for Atlantis: he only sought to do as no one else had ever done before. And he died in that frame of mind, trying to best what he had already set as unattainable for most every other freestyle diver there can ever be, several months before the fictional ''Aquaman'' reached his pinnacle there...
It sort of puts everything into proper perspective, don't you think, aquas?
Rest In Peace Patrick Musimu