There used to be a thing where DC Comics would give their heroes large entourages of supporting characters who could help out during the heroes’ adventures. Sure, there was the standard kid sidekick, but sometimes there were more than just that particular character. And while not every DC hero had such an entourage of assistants, Aquaman for one did.
Let’s look at Qwsp. Or Quisp. Either is acceptable.
Who or what was Quisp? Or Qwsp? Well, he was briefly part of Aquaman’s entourage, so to speak. The basic concept of the superhero family started with the Marvel Family from Fawcet Comics, where Captain Marvel had himself, various relatives, a bunny, and a talking tiger, among others. DC decided that was profitable and took the idea for themselves.
That meant the Superman Family, where Jimmy Olson and Lois Lane both got their own books, as well as ongoing adventures for the likes of Superboy and Supergirl. And that’s not getting into the likes of the Super-pets or maybe the Legion of Superheroes depending on how you look at them.
Batman, meanwhile, had at various points Robin, Batgirl, Batwoman, the Bat-Hound, and the extra-dimensional pest Bat-Mite.
Wonder Woman arguably had the most interesting extended family in the form of herself. In the Silver Age, Diana would occasionally engage in time travel to team up with younger versions of herself. That fact somehow got overlooked when the writer of the original Teen Titans series thought the group needed a female member and didn’t realize Wonder Girl was not a sidekick so much as “Wonder Woman only younger”.
But then there was Aquaman, and I need to take a moment to say what an odd character Aquaman is in many ways. In the Silver Age, Aquaman was the only notable DC hero that didn’t have a secret identity. He was always Aquaman. He also for the longest time didn’t have his own book and only appeared in back-up stories in various comics, and since this was the Silver Age, it meant the standard Aquaman story could be anything from Aquaman opening a hospital for fish at the bottom of the sea or Aquaman doing crime-fighting patrols on land by driving a truck with an aquarium full of fish in the bed.
I did not make any of those up.
Now, Aquaman did have a kid sidekick named Aqualad, and sometimes he’d meet an “Aquagirl” but those were generally temporary. His other big companion was an octopus named Tupo who was more of a very smart pet than anything else. But not long after the Sea Sleuth (again, one of his actual nicknames) graduated to his own solo series, he met Quisp.
Quisp was a “water sprite,” a somewhat magical being with various water-based powers who would show up to help out Aquaman, maybe get in trouble and need some rescuing, and be something of a probably-intended-to-be-cute-and-humorous associate for a straight-laced hero like, well, any DC hero was in those days. Quisp was helpful, but not so powerful that he could save the day completely by himself.
So, what happened to him? Well, I used to read a lot of DC Silver Age reprints, and Quisp disappeared not long after another character appeared.
Mera was, originally, a woman from an alternate dimension that sought Aquaman’s help with various problems. She also had some water-based superpowers, but unlike Quisp, she wasn’t very useful at all. She was clumsy, tended to screw up, and often needed rescuing. Jenny would have hated her then.
Point is, once Mera took the role, Aquaman didn’t really need Quisp anymore. Heck, Aquaman could kiss Mera without alarming parents. In fact, that is more or less what happened. Aquaman was named King of Atlantis for reasons that weren’t specified all that much when it first happened, and when told he had to marry someone, he got a bit confused until he remembered Mera was the only woman he actually knew. And then, something like one issue later, Mera gave birth to a son known alternately as “Arthur Junior” and “Aquababy”. Time passes, they even pick up a more permanent Aquagirl, and no one bothered much with Quisp.
Until Grant Morrison brought him back during his JLA run.
Now he called himself Qwsp, he may or may not have been the same guy (I’m a little confused, truth be told), and he was evil. This Qwsp claimed to be from the 5th dimension much like Superman’s foe Mr. Mxyzptlk or maybe Batman’s one-time greatest extra-dimensional fan Bat-Mite.
Now, Qwsp in this form lasted all of one adventure before being defeated, but it does suggest you should keep an eye on your sidekicks so they don’t get bitter and come back twisted and wrong.
Titans “Caul’s Folly”
Comic Review: The Judas Coin
Noteworthy Issues: Supergirl: Woman Of Tomorrow #5 (November, 2021)