Police Chief Clancy O’Hara had seen it all in his career with the Gotham City Police Department. In a city whose felons’ methods of operations included giant robotic penguins and killer plants, what could surprise a seasoned cop? The stocky Irishman enjoyed his job and life in the city, but every once in a while something would occur to shake even his worldly experience and placid demeanor. One thing that shocked him especially was the news of an injured officer; despite his gruff exterior, he cared passionately about his men. Thus, when a cop rushed in and summoned the chief of police from his desk to the scene of a startling discovery, he found his bearings at risk.
“Saints preserve me! It’s the Boy Wonder!” he gasped as his men and medical teams worked to revive a brightly costumed young man whose coloration was ashen at best. Although Robin had not been a boy for a few years now, the nickname had stuck.
“No use, Chief. He’s gone!” cried one medic. “We’ve lost him!”
Chief O’Hara removed his hat and hung his head. “Poor, brave lad!” he mused as he gazed down at the dead young man. “What will become of us without that bright young daredevil? And how can I possibly tell Batman?”
Two lovely women sat across from one another in a peaceful setting. The darker beauty floated in crystal clear waters. Her long, black locks cascaded down her bare back and touched the water’s edge. Her smile was a cold one, and it revealed gleaming, almost inhuman, razor-sharp teeth. “You will assure my people a sanctuary… and prey, in exchange for our services,” she hissed.
The taller blonde lounged idly by the water’s edge, gazing more at her own reflection than at her fierce ally. She wore a white halter top and skirt. “You have my word. If you aid me in regaining my proper role here, I shall use my science to increase your people and offer them all they require. All the manlings they can devour, in fact!” She laughed quickly.
Queen Sharkeeta grinned and said, “‘Tis done! Queen Clea, the shark-maids will restore you to your own royal throne, and you shall create more of my sisters.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Adventures of the Undersea Amazons,” Wonder Woman #8 (Spring, 1944) and “The Siege of the Flying Mermaids,” Comic Cavalcade #21 (June-July, 1947).]
Queen Clea nodded. “Indeed. You have my sworn oath.”
“And what of Wonder Woman?” said Sharkeeta.
Queen Clea’s smile grew more sinister. “Shall we just say, you aren’t planning to go on a diet anytime soon, are you?” Sharkeeta laughed as she dropped deeper into the ocean and swam off as her shark fin crested the waters. Clea pursed her lips and said, “Excellent.”
In the Atlantean city-state of Venturia, Princess Octavia was tired and worried. The pretty redhead was used to late hours and hard work, so she still managed to smile warmly at the servant who entered with her nightly snack.
“Guida, you are too good to me! You never forget my favorite kelp!” she said.
Guida grinned. She had been both nurse and maid to Octavia all her young life. She had worked for her mother before her back at their home city of Aurania. When Octavia had been selected to take over as ruler of Venturia after Wonder Woman deposed Queen Clea, Guida had loyally followed her.
It had been hard to adjust to life in a realm where men were puny and subservient after decades in the normal city she had always known. Still, Octavia had freed the former slaves called manlings and had ended the traditional matriarchy as best as she could.
“Thank Neptune that Paula von Gunther figured out the glowing algae mixed in all of our food made our men so weak. Once she had Wonder Woman remove it, the manlings actually grew to normal size, regardless of age! Even old manlings who had lived as frail slaves for decades suddenly developed normal muscle and height. The new generations will be like any of the men on the surface world.”
The crash of combat shook the hall as Octavia was attacked by hordes of flying shark-maids. They had mermaid bodies shark features like teeth, fins, and bloodlust, as well as wings allowing them to fly through the air.
“Take the fresh-faced princess in one piece!” cried Sharkeeta. “Rend the other and feed!” Her shark-maid sisters cried in hungry pleasure as they circled the two women.
“Great Triton, preserve us!” whined Guida.
Octavia gestured, and a solid fist of hard water sprang out of a nearby fountain to crash hard into the swarming women. Thank goodness for these powers, she thought. Scientists in Venturia had been working on ways to grant the air-breathing South Atlanteans the ability to breathe water, and thus make their visits to North Atlantean cities at the bottom of the ocean much easier. They’d had limited success with an amazing serum based on one given to them by Paula von Gunther of the Amazons, and while Octavia indeed gained the ability to breathe water, the serum had also given her the ability to mentally manipulate water itself. With this new ability she could form water into any shape and make it as hard as steel if she wished.
“Kill her!” cried Sharkeeta.
“Get away, milady!” begged Guida as she fell beneath the attackers.
“I won’t leave you!” said a determined Octavia.
In an office of the Wayne Foundation on the West Coast, a tired-looking man looked across a desk at an eager young man.
“The Wayne-owned ship S.S. Martha disappeared off the coast of Africa,” said Joe Green. “All we know came from one survivor who was picked up adrift. He claims a terrible huge iceberg shattered the hull and sank the ship! Icebergs in that region are pure fantasy!”
“That’s for me to decide,” declared the eager blond man who wore a green suit. “I mean, Mr. Wayne did hire me as his roving troubleshooter three years ago, and Mrs. Thunder’s boy Johnny won’t let down a swell guy like Bruce Wayne! (*) So I’m going to investigate!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: 1947: The New Olympians, Chapter 2: When Giants Walked the Earth.]
“Yes. Here is your expense money,” said Mr. Green with a nod of his head.
At Holliday College for Women near Washington, D.C., two old friends debated eagerly in a faculty office.
Professor Arcturus Astronimo said, “Now, Seadunk, old man, icebergs that move like ships! That’s the hokum!”
Captain Simon Seadunk, a weathered, tanned old salt, still wore a naval cap even though he had been an oceanography professor at Holliday for years now. “I tell you, I’ve seen weird things out there in the briny deep,” replied Seadunk. “I’m only saying if you looked down below instead of gazing at the stars all the time, you’ve be amazed at the wonders of the deep!”
His friend the astronomy professor nodded. “So, your old crew-mate says he saw a moving iceberg of artificial make? What do you propose to do?”
“I’m calling in my old pal to check it out,” said Seadunk.
At that moment, in walked Steve Trevor. “Hello, Captain. What can I do for you?” asked the hero.
At the Gotham City Morgue, grim figures gazed down at the corpse of the Boy Wonder. Oddly enough, one of the onlookers was Robin himself.
“He’s almost an exact double for me, right down to his masked face,” said Robin. “Thanks for leaving the mask on, Chief!” Police Chief Clancy O’Hara nodded in response.
“Chief O’Hara knows the law concerning masked heroes,” said Batman. “Apparently, this poor youngster was counting on his resemblance to you to attract our attention so he could get a message to us from his sister.”
Commissioner James W. Gordon frowned. “Now, you know the lad?”
“Yes, sir,” said Batman. “He was Emperor Taro of Atlantis. He was a near-twin to Robin, here. We aided him and his lovely sister Empress Lanya against Nazi troops back in ’43.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Atlantis Goes to War,” Batman #19 (October-November, 1943).]
Robin shook his head. “I can’t believe he’s gone. Seeing my double dead — cold and all — it’s hard to accept.”
Batman nodded. “Easy, son. We found his message. We’ll make his sacrifice count. Lanya needs us again. Apparently some surface criminals have been raiding Tritonis, their undersea city.”
“But, Batman, what killed the lad?” asked Chief O’Hara.
“Not what — who,” said Batman. “He was poisoned. We’re lucky he made it this far. The toxin was cleverly designed, based on the blood test I did. It was harmless… until he ingested the potion that allowed him to breathe air. Then it created a chemical reaction that proved to be fatal!”
“Rest in peace, Taro,” said Robin. “We’ll protect Lanya and bring in the crooks your note spoke of as being the source of your coming here!” They rushed off, determined to do just that.
A solitary figure made his way through the well-stocked library of Venturia, flipping through the pages of a book he held in one hand. He was handsome, wearing an orange shirt, green pants, and gloves of gold. His name at birth was Arthur Curry, but he had forged a new identity for himself below the waves as Aquaman. As Aquaman, he had been the lone protector of human life out in the ocean depths. He had fought Nazi agents, and he had also waged war against the forces of a stormy nature itself. He had seen much and traveled the globe. Yet he was not famous above the waves like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.
Instead, the hero of the ocean depths had shunned the limelight and had worked behind the scenes as needed. In truth, he was uncomfortable being around other people for too long. He had grown up on a sandy shore near his late father’s lab. Tom Curry had been a gifted scientist and oceanographer. He had invented a process by which his son could survive beneath the ocean and talk to aquatic life. This had been the only gift he could leave his orphaned son when he died.
Yet Aquaman had never understood the process. It had never been successfully duplicated with any lasting duration. In fact, it did not explain the other gifts he had acquired over the decade since he had become Aquaman.
Now he could truly communicate with aquatic life via a form of telepathy. He could truly breathe beneath the sea, and his strength and stamina reflected this fact. Whether these talents were merely late-developing effects of Tom Curry’s mysterious process or were some innate, mutant birthrights that only came into being when he had spent sufficient time beneath the sea, he could not say.
Aquaman had become a scholar of sorts and had passed through the various scattered city-states that had once comprised the lost kingdom of Atlantis, searching for answers. He was welcome in most of these cities as one who understood the aquatic world and respected it. He had never been to Venturia before, which, as he learned in this library, had been part of South Atlantis in eons past.
Unlike North Atlantis, which long ago sank beneath the waves to rest at the bottom of the sea, the equatorial subcontinent of South Atlantis had remained dry land. When all of Atlantis sank into the Atlantic Ocean, the scientists of South Atlantis caused the earth itself to protectively fold over the South Atlantis subcontinent, sealing it within a vast air pocket accessible only by two extinct volcano craters. One of the craters brought fresh air in from the surface, while the other crater spewed out stale air, and these acted as an entranceway and an exit, respectively.
Because the lands of Aurania and Venturia in South Atlantis were populated by air-breathers, while the surviving cities of North Atlantis — which included Tritonis and the ruins of Poseidonis — were populated by water-breathers and mermen, there had never been much interaction between the northern and southern lands of Atlantis until now. The war between Aurania and Venturia, when the evil Queen Clea had ruled the latter, had largely prevented that. It was not until Queen Eeras and her daughter Octavia ruled over all of South Atlantis that the air-breathing Auranians and Venturians finally reached out to the water-breathing Atlanteans to the north.
As a champion of both air-breathers and water-breathers, Aquaman had been invited to visit South Atlantis and learn more about their history, and he finally got around to paying a visit, taking a plane through the guarded volcanic crater that acted as an entryway. But he hadn’t yet met the rulers of these lands. If he had heard of Queen Clea during her harsh rule, he would gladly have deposed the cruel blonde ruler, but South Atlantis’ very existence had been a mystery to him until now.
Gazing up from his heavy history tome, Aquaman frowned as he listened to disturbing sounds. “Suffering shad! Sounds like some type of war!” He put down the book and ran out to see winged shark-women attacking everyone.
Aquaman sent out a mental feeler but received nothing in return. “Figures,” he said with a smile. “These ladies are too evolved to obey me. I guess I’d better do things the hard way!” He grabbed the nearest one and swung her into one of her sisters. They tore at one another in a frenzy. No loyalty there! They’re fighting mad! he mused as he ducked the charge of a third and belted her across the chin.
Since it had been a matriarchy for thousands of years, South Atlantis was no place for chivalry, but Aquaman wished things could be different. He recalled the tales of King Arthur from his youth, having always loved stories of courts, knights, kings, and princesses.
A beautiful, tall redhead ran toward him, leading an old woman. She stumbled into him, then struggled to break free. “Release me!” she cried.
“Hold it, Miss! I’m trying to help,” he insisted, amazed at her sheer strength, which rivaled his own. “Stop struggling, little lady!”
The young woman stopped and said, “If you truly seek to aid us, then stop pawing me and fight!”
Aquaman gulped and put Octavia down, noting that she was at least an inch or two taller than him, then blocked the path of the oncoming shark-maids. “I’ll settle this now! You ladies stand back!” he vowed as he bravely stood firm.
Queen Sharkeeta sneered as she led Queen Clea over the bloody bodies of Octavia’s guards. “She employed altered manlings as guards! The little fool. They can’t grow backbone in a matter of mere years!” laughed the black-trussed beauty.
Queen Clea casually bent down and tossed a living guardsman across the room to hungry shark-maids. “They seem to be enjoyed by your sisters. I have restored them all,” said the tall blonde.
“Aye, that you did,” said Sharkeeta. “And we, in turn, have conquered your old kingdom. Now to find that fire-haired princess!”
Clea frowned. The shark-maids were fierce soldiers, but she really didn’t wish to have them constantly swimming around the pools or flying through the streets of her domain. She lounged across the throne and crossed her legs. “Do so, and bring her back in one piece!” she warned.
“You do spoil all the fun, two-legs!” said Sharkeeta.
Clea sat demurely and planned the demise of her erstwhile allies. With her keen mind and Amazonian strength, she could rid herself of them soon enough. “It is good to be queen!” she sighed.
Meanwhile, Aquaman ignored a bite from a shark-maid that tore across his shoulder, and he heaved the attacker into the roof.
Guida and Octavia stood behind him until Octavia suddenly jumped right and slammed a huge fist of solid water from a nearby pool into a shark-maid.
“By the seven seas! I’ve never seen the likes of that before!” marveled Aquaman.
The princess tossed back her wild red hair and smiled. “I have my own resources, too!”
Aquaman grinned. “I just bet you do!” He frowned as he noticed the sheer number of shark-maids. “I have to get them to safety. I can come back later and storm the place.”
A swift left hook dropped a shark-maid, and he called to Octavia. “We’re leaving!” he yelled.
“Never! As the ruling princess of this land, I must care for my people!” she said defiantly.
“I can’t argue. We have no time,” he said. Scooping her up, he tossed her over one broad shoulder as she kicked helplessly in his strong arms.
“No one should treat their princess this way!” she said as Guida smothered a smile.
“You’re not my princess,” Aquaman replied. “I’m from the world above.”
Johnny Thunder groaned as he pushed aside a stack of charts. His naval career during the war had not prepared him for the task of tracking the sightings of the huge iceberg.
“Say, you know, this would all be a whole lot easier if my T-bolt was still around. Guess I have to get used to going it alone. It’s been three years now. The iceberg must be driven, so to speak, by a human. I can’t believe it just zooms around at will. It’s manmade. That means the guy behind the whole plot wants something. He didn’t sink the Martha for getting in his way. He was either trying to keep it away from someplace, or he wanted to sink it for the cargo. He could easily retrieve it if he has the knowhow to create this big hunk of ice.”
He rubbed his eyes wearily. “The ship’s cargo log says it had certain isotopes aboard. They were going to a Wayne research lab. I’ve met jerks from Germany to Jupiter who have wanted such radiation sources for their cosmic doo-hickeys. I bet if another such ship heads out and allegedly carries such cargo, then it will bring that iceberg out… and I’ll be waiting!” He smiled at first, but it quickly turned into a frown. “But then what will I do?”
In his office, Major Steve Trevor frowned in consternation. “Couldn’t tell Captain Seadunk without clearing it first with my angel, but the location in which that floating iceberg was last seen, according to his old deck-mate, was smack in the middle of the waters around a place I know all too well!” he mused.
He sighed, since his boss General Philip Darnell and Darnell’s secretary Lieutenant Diana Prince were both out of the office. “I guess even though I thought I’d never go back there again after our last adventure on that nutty, time-tossed isle, it’s back to New Discovery Island for me!” he said. Imagine it — an isle in which civilization has never progressed any since the days of the Roman Empire! Togas, chariots, lions — the whole arena full of classical culture! he thought as he hurried home to pack. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “In the Clutches of Nero,” Sensation Comics #39 (March, 1945).]