April 24, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #460: Topo

Sure, we all remember the kid sidekicks. But what about the animal sidekicks?

Here we go:  the entry I was going to put up last week and forgot.  See, Aquaman has had many sidekicks.  But before there was Aqualad, before there was Mera, before there was any of the Aquagirls, and before there was weird imp Qwsp, there was Topo.

He was originally a pet octopus.

Topo first appeared in Adventure Comics #229 in October of 1956.  That was back when A) Aquaman didn’t have a series of his own and just appeared in back-up stories in various comics (he shared this one with, among others, Green Arrow) and B) many comics didn’t exactly have credits on them, so it’s not known who wrote that first adventure, but the artwork was by Ramona Fradon, considered by many to be the definitive Aquaman artist of the Silver Age and later on the co-creator of Metamorpho.

Anyway, Topo was Aquaman’s pet octopus who often hung around during Silver Age adventures, and because real-world science was not something anyone was really all that knowledgeable of apparently, Topo could do all kinds of things, even accompanying Aquaman on land to do such things because octopi can do that, right?

How does he aim?

And when I say he did all kinds of things, I mean he did all kinds of things.

Yeah, you really shouldn’t think too hard about these old stories if you know, like, anything about science.  I mean, look at this column’s banner image up top:  how is Aquaman drinking a cup of coffee underwater?

Anyway, Topo seems to be this go-to name whenever anyone wants to include an octopus or octopus-like creature in an Aquaman story.  For example, Peter David’s run in the 90s, the one that has Aquaman lose a hand to some piranha and then attach the infamous hook, had Topo appear as a rather normal (albeit a bit large) octopus for an issue or two.

Later on, Kurt Busiek did this “new” Aquaman thing where a kid with a similar name and appearance to the original Golden Age Aquaman gained similar powers and went adventuring under the sea with a squid-man named, well, Topo.  This Topo could change color and squirt ink, but mostly seemed kinda timid.  Worth noting, this Topo seems to be the one that appeared on the Young Justice animated series.

And the New 52 came up with a giant, crab-octopus hybrid monster that Aquaman could summon for emergencies, one so massive that it gave the King of the Seas a nosebleed just to call it.

And of course, it did come out that the drum-playing octopus in the first live action Aquaman movie was supposed to be Topo.  Topo’s role was noticeably bigger in the sequel, but who went to see that?

Essentially, if Aquaman needs an octopus or similar creature with a name, it’s probably Topo.

But that reminds me…there was another Aquaman.