U.N.D.E.R.S.E.A. in action. Artist: Ray Bailey

U.N.D.E.R.S.E.A. Agent

Medium: Comic books
Published by: Tower Comics
First Appeared: 1966
Creators: Samm Schwartz (editor) and Ray Bailey (artist)
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In the mid-to-late 1960s, spy agencies with acronyms for names were all the rage. The two most prominent examples in comic books were Marvel's Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Tower …

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… Comics' T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, both of which melded the genre with the one most prominent in comics, superheroes. Tower did so well (at least initially) with T.H.U.N.D.E.R., the following year it launched another. Since the one already extant was pretty all-pervasive on and above our planet's surface, and also covered caverns underneath, the new one didn't have much choice in operating areas. But underwater adventuring wasn't entirely unprecedented in contemporary comics (DC's Sea Devils was still a going concern), and that's where they placed it.

Fortunately, it didn't matter very much whether or not the acronyms made sense, because apparently, the best they could do with U.N.D.E.R.S.E.A. was "United Nations Department of Experiment and Research Systems Established at Atlantis. And to get one even that good, they had to come up with something they could call "Atlantis". They settled on an undersea research facility located at an archaeological site holding ruins that presumably had been a part of that sunken land.

Professor Weston (the Atlantis scholar who founded the institution) chose to maintain typically obsessive secrecy because from the beginning, his operation was menaced by a would-be world conqueror, the insidious Doctor Fang, who ruled a kingdom of mer-folk named Lemuria (after a less famous sunken land). Needless to say, Fang (who originally hailed from the surface and was financed by Red China) remained U.N.D.E.R.S.E.A.'s arch-enemy.

The hero was a U.S. Navy lieutenant appropriately (if implausibly) named Davy Jones. He was recruited in the first issue, dated January, 1966, in a story scripted by an unknown writer (possibly Samm Schwartz, best known for his work at Archie Comics — he edited the title) and drawn by Ray Bailey (Bruce Gentry). Davy had a juvenile sidekick named Skooby Doolittle (no relation). In the second issue, Davy acquired minor super powers, which helped him fit in with the rest of the comic book heroes of the day.

But he must not have fit in all that closely, because his comic was gone after a mere six issues, the last dated March, 1967. Other than a guest appearance in T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #13 (June, 1967), that's all there ever was of U.N.D.E.R.S.E.A. Agent Davy Jones.


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Text ©2005 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Tower Comics.