When Adventure Comics #260 hit the newsstands in March 1959, the DC Comics Silver Age was underway in earnest. Action Comics #252 featuring the debut of Supergirl hit the newsstands the same month, while four months prior, Flash's regular series had resumed for the era with Flash #105. Green Lantern would receive his Silver Age reboot just four months after Adventure Comics #260. Aquaman's Silver Age reboot in that issue has been overlooked among these others, but that's starting to change. There's an Adventure Comics #260 CGC VF+ 8.5 Cream to off-white pages available in this week's 2021 May 16-17 Sunday & Monday Comics, Animation & Art Weekly Online Auction #122120 from Heritage Auctions.
As is the case with Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, Aquaman didn't end when the Golden Age of superheroes began to taper off in the late 1940s. After his run in More Fun #73-107, Aquaman moved to Adventure Comics beginning with issue #103 and running through #284. But in Adventure Comics #260, many of the now-familiar elements of his origin were introduced. It was revealed that he was Arthur Curry, son of human Tom Curry and Atlanna from the lost city of Atlantis.
The background of the Aquaman tale in this issue is worth further scrutiny beyond these origin elements. At the outset of the story, it is revealed that Aquaman is attempting to stop the U.S. Navy from conducting underwater atomic tests in a certain area of the ocean. Such testing would have been in the news around the time that this story was being created, as it was announced and conducted as part of Operation Hardtack, early in 1958.
To prevent the atomic tests, Aquaman revealed his origin to the Navy commander in charge — including the secret that the lost city of Atlantis was at the bottom of the ocean directly below the prospective test site. This backstory of Aquaman's Silver Age reboot provides us with a fascinating connection to The Sub-Mariner's Silver Age reboot three years later in Fantastic Four #4. The Sub-Mariner was too late to prevent such atomic testing from destroying his Atlantis, turning him against mankind and the Fantastic Four.
Adventure Comics #260 is a tough get in high grade, with only eleven higher listings than the CGC 8.5 copy available here. There's an Adventure Comics #260 CGC VF+ 8.5 Cream to off-white pages available in this week's 2021 May 16-17 Sunday & Monday Comics, Animation & Art Weekly Online Auction #122120 from Heritage Auctions.
Adventure Comics #260 (DC, 1959) CGC VF+ 8.5 Cream to off-white pages. The first Silver Age origin of Aquaman. Curt Swan cover. John Sikela, Lee Elias, and Ramona Fradon art. Overstreet 2020 VF 8.0 value = $840; VF/NM 9.0 value = $1,670. CGC census 5/21: 10 in 8.5, 11 higher.