What's that sound? It's the sound of a 1990s flashback! We're going back in time to a decade when Congress got stupid and shut the government down and when comic books were garishly colored and everything looked like a bad Image comic. And don't even get me started on fashion.

Speaking of government facilities that are probably shut down, here's a promotional comic book published by the National Maritime Center starring "Captain Nauticus And The Ocean Force." This special limited edition - only 20,000 were printed, get yours today! - stars what appears to be some sort of a undersea football player and his pet seal. I bet that seal is going to have some amazing adventures.

So let's see, we have this promo comic published by the National Maritime Center, I'm sure it's going to be filled with the wonders of the ocean, right?

Yessir, here we are in outer space. Nothing says "National Maritime Center" like the KKOOSH of a blaster-zoid impacting the left combobulator module of a Type Zarkulon astro-cruiser!

Since this is the 1990s we're of course going to have lots of badly-inked double-truck splash pages. Because comic books are a serious visual arts medium that stands alongside film and literature, zoom, pew pew, kkoosh, zablam.

But let's check in with our heroes, Captain Nauticus and his Ocean Force. I bet they're filled with a quiet dignity as befitting their station.

Wow, I lose that bet! What we've got here is drunk super hero cosplayers who snuck into the set of one of the 1990's many Star Trek TV shows. Pointing, shouting, engaging tractor beams, National Maritime Center ahoy!

Still waiting for the seal from the cover to show up. I bet that seal will be awesome!

One of the great things about the advances in printing technology is the ability of 1990s comics to expand their color palette into new and really disgusting areas of total ugliness. However, it's great that the comic book industry takes a back seat to nobody when it comes to hiring the visually impaired!!

Hang on to your glocks, Ocean Force! Those Austrian handguns aren't cheap!

Once through the black hole, our heroes find themselves near a strange solar system with a unique rainbow-colored orbital structure. According to the helpfully labeled picture, they're near planet Earth, which apparently has some new and exciting geographical changes.

Our outer-space heroes find themselves near the National Maritime Center, which apparently is a millions-year old Atlantean structure repurposed by the enterprising and thrifty National Maritime Center Design Board. That's just what we want in an educational comic sold at a research and learning facility, nonsense about Atlantis and superheroes that can "morph" into fish. Right?

And our underwater Super Friends take up residence underneath the National Maritime Center. Here's a handy comic book storytelling tip: why waste time with captions like "the next day..." or "the following morning..." when you can just color the background orange? Your readers will know it's the sunrise and not a giant explosion. Probably.

Now we get to what this comic book is really about - giant musclemen shoving their fists at the reader, splaying their limbs, gaping their jaws as they blast things with other things. 1990s!!!!

Now would also be a great time for that seal from the cover to make an appearance. Everybody loves seals.

On the trail of the evil Fathom, deep in the Marianas Trench. our heroes find a lost civilization and a cryo-tube and a really annoying haircut, which fits in with everybody else's haircuts so it's OK.

This comic- published by the National Maritime Center, remember- is an amazing educational opportunity to bring the wonders of the ocean to America's young people, and this opportunity is completely wasted in favor of PSHEW FSH ZAP KABOOM Star Wars dialog ripoff.

No, wait, there's some fish and shrimp and things. LEARNING!!!

The Ocean Force won't let a desperate mission interfere with their love of modern dance!

How you can tell this comic book is from the 1990s, part 67: repeated use of the word "morph".

Who is this kid again? Oh, that's right, we were never told who he is or what he was doing in the cryo-stasis-tube or why his head is freakishly huge. For a comic book published by an educational center, it's doing a terrible job at, you know, imparting information.

Oh my god, Fathom has the Crystal Of Atlantis, which allows him to shoot blaster rays and turn into a giant monster! Since everybody has been doing this all along, the Crystal Of Atlantis sadly fails to impress.

The Crystal Of Atlantis! As seen on the forehead of an ugly maggot-fish monster! Ask for yours today. Boy oh boy, the Ocean Force has been buried under rocks by the evil Fathom and our kid sidekick is about to be chomped in half! How will they get out of this one? I know - this is where the seal from the cover makes his amazing appearance and rescues them all!! Right?

Oh, uh, I guess not. Right here is where the comic ends, with an ad for a virtual reality attraction at the National Maritime Center. How you can tell this comic book is from the 1990s, part 68: "virtual reality". Remember how we were all going to wear giant goggles and Nintendo Power Gloves and "enter cyberspace"? Remember how everybody said "nope, no thanks" and went on about their business?

I know what YOU want, you want 4 more exciting issues of Captain Nauticus AND a season pass to Nauticus for only $19.95! AND you want your picture taken with a bunch of really excited kids and a cardboard standup of Captain Nauticus! AND you want your very own membership card in the Ocean Force! And that's great. But that's not what I want. What I want is to find out WHAT HAPPENED THAT SEAL. We were PROMISED A SEAL and we NEVER GOT ONE.

The National Maritime Center in Norfolk VA is still there! If you're in the area, check it out - it's the home of the Battleship Wisconsin (which includes a below-decks haunted house attraction), hands-on marine life aquariums, real artifacts recovered from the USS Monitor, The Shark Experience featuring Bamboo Sharks, Coral Catsharks, and a Shovelnose Guitarfish, and... absolutely no trace of Captain Nauticus and the Ocean Force. (and when in Athens GA visit Bizarro Wuxtry, who thoughtfully provided us with this and many other comics!!)

(SPOILER: The little kid is the seal.)