As Aquaman dodged a hammering blow from one of Eeras’ troopers, he sent out a mental command to his army of seabirds. Got to hope they’re in range! he mused as he received a hard punch to his jaw.
Octavia surrounded him with a hard water bubble.
“Milady!” cried Guida. “Your mother is under some spell!”
Octavia nodded. “I pray her behavior can be explained as nothing more serious!”
Aquaman charged into the troops as the shield faded. “Mera, she is being possessed,” he said as he spun a soldier into the wall. “My telepathy is limited to aquatic beasts, but even I sense another mind controlling her! She is not to blame!”
Octavia smiled at his words of comfort. She rather liked to hear this surface man call her by the family nickname. She wished she had met him earlier and under better conditions. Still, he was certainly a good man to have in a fight.
Suddenly, glass shattered as seagulls crashed through every window in the building. Queen Eeras shrieked at the sound, and seconds later a golden lasso looped over her chest.
“Stop this madness!” commanded Wonder Woman as she raced into the room.
Steve Trevor, who had followed her, grinned. “Good thing those seagulls caused a distraction with the guards, allowing me to take off your chains!”
Wonder Woman kicked a guard across the hall. “Aquaman, I know you from a mutual friend of ours, Captain Seadunk!” she said. “He sent us to check on a floating iceberg, and we were captured by the mind that is possessing poor Eeras!”
Octavia smiled. “Princess Diana! Thank Neptune! We were coming here to summon you via mother’s mental radio. Venturia has fallen to your old foe, Queen Clea! And now Mother is… is like you see!”
“Wonder Woman!” said Aquaman. “A pleasure to meet you. We were both at an All-Star Squadron meeting once, but didn’t exchange greetings.”
Before he could say anything else, Octavia interrupted him. “Can you use your mental radio to ask Paula for the chemical she used to devolve the shark-maids the last time they attacked your home?”
Nodding, Wonder Woman said, “Don’t worry, Octavia. We’ll settle all your problems. Eeras, can you hear me? We’ll help. Just stay calm. Order your guards to surrender.”
The guards did so as the tormented Queen Eeras obeyed.
“Looks like my seabirds had the rest on the ropes, anyway!” said the smiling Aquaman as his swooping gulls drove the guards to one side. Wonder Woman stepped forward to shake hands with the handsome hero.
“Say, just who is this beach boy, anyway?” asked a worried Steve Trevor as he saw the exchange.
“I’m called Aquaman!” he replied. Kneeling gently beside Queen Eeras, he asked her, “Can you lead us to the one who forced you to attack us?”
“I… I can only say it was Manlius! In Tritonis!” she gasped as her pale face grew pained.
“Mother! She’s collapsed!” cried Octavia.
“I promise you, I’ll stop this Manlius!” vowed Aquaman as he cradled her in his arms.
“I fought him before, when he briefly overthrew Octavia,” said Wonder Woman.
Octavia nodded. “He was once our most brilliant scientist,” she explained. “But after he was exposed to Z vapor, endowing him with an evolved mind, he used this advantage to make himself the warlord of Venturia. (*) Though we thought him defeated for good, he might well now be able to mentally control my mother from afar!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Menace of the Rebel Manlings,” Comic Cavalcade #18 (December, 1946-January, 1947).]
“What about that iceberg?” said Steve. “It must be connected to this whole incident. We know it is connected to New Discovery Island’s Roman civilization!”
“An iceberg?” interrupted Aquaman. “Sounds like an old weapon of the Germans. Leviathan was the name. Don’t tell me a new one has been created!” Looking at Wonder Woman solemnly, he said, “Princess Diana, we have our work cut out for us!”
The sleek Sub-Batmarine approached a ruined and devastated city-state. Aboard the high-tech submarine, Batman and Robin sat in grim silence.
“Look at the destruction!” said a worried Robin. “Holy disaster! The whole city is one crushed ruin! Poor Lanya may be dead already!”
Batman put his hand on the young man’s shoulder. “Steady, lad. Don’t assume the worst. She was resourceful enough to send her brother to find us. She may be safe. It does look as if their home is truly ruined, though. From the poison used to kill the poor lad and the mass destruction here, I’d say our foe is a scientific genius with no regard for life.”
Robin nodded. He’d had a bit of a romance with the lovely Lanya, and he hoped she was alive. “Batman, do you think that Nazi creep is behind it?” he said. “We drove him off last time, but he knows where the city is! Still, poison was not his style.”
“I doubt Admiral Von Buritz did this,” said Batman. “Someone obviously wants to destroy the city. I’d suspect another rival city-state. If Atlantis was as large as the legends say, then it could have divided up into numerous distant cities when it sank. Plus, remember what the note said? Surface crooks are behind this… particularly one we know!”
Robin jumped up. “Gosh! I see what you mean! That’s the Submobile — the car/sub crime vehicle our old foe Jib Buckler used before!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Salvage Scavengers,” World’s Finest Comics #14 (Summer, 1944).]
They drew nearer the advanced craft as it cut through murky waters.
“He’s firing on us! Little good that’ll do, the shifty pirate!” said Batman as their sturdy craft resisted the energy beam that sliced toward the Sub-Batmarine.
Robin nodded. “Let’s see how he likes a dose of his own medicine! An electrified net should leave his water roadster smoking by the side of… the coral reef highway!” He fired a metallic net and hit the Submobile directly. As the current flowed through it like an electric eel, the Submobile shuddered to a halt on one side.
“Now to take down the driver! Use your rebreather,” instructed Batman. Placing the devices in their mouths, they raced out to fight the foes who apparently had the artificial ability to breathe underwater.
A gang poured out of the wrecked Submobile to face the Dynamic Duo in the ruins of Tritonis.
That dirty-looking brute is Blackhand! (*) mused Batman. “Next to him comes ‘Blackbeard’ Thatch! (*) Behind them is Tiger Shark and old Jib Buckler himself! (*) This is a who’s who of aquatic thugs!
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Crime on the Half-Shell,” Detective Comics #113 (July, 1946), “Blackbeard’s Crew and the Yacht Society,” Batman #4 (Winter, 1941), and “Tiger Shark,” Detective Comics #147 (May, 1949).]
They charged closer, and the fight began.
Batman saw Blackhand swing out a blade in his charred hand. Shifting to one side, he brought his batarang down to disarm the disfigured pirate. One swift left hook dropped his crafty enemy.
Robin rolled through the waters to land on top of Tiger Shark. Ducking a swing, he kicked the colorful robber in the stomach. You’ll trade your tiger stripes for prison grays! he mused as he punched the pirate.
Batman was surrounded by the rising Blackhand as “Blackbeard” Thatch and Jib Buckler attacked from all sides. Adjusting his mask, he dropped a pellet that produced a bright light. He used the advantage it gave him to flatten Blackhand and Thatch. Grabbing Jib, he slammed him into a reef.
Robin vaulted forward and cuffed Jib before wrapping a rope around him. From Jib to gibbet! Or at least life in jail! he punned to himself.
A thumb’s-up signal from Batman brought a smile to his face as they subdued their foes.
Back aboard the Sub-Batmarine, they exchanged congratulations while they breathed in fresh air. “That Submobile is a sleek vehicle, but it could not have devastated the city like this,” said Batman. “We’ve taken down the crooks, but not their leader or his deadly weapon!”
“And we still have not seen any sign of Lanya or any of her people!” said Robin.
As a group of angry Atlanteans swam toward them from the ruins, Batman said, “That’s just changed!”
Within moments, the Atlanteans surrounded the Sub-Batmarine, and finally three of them were able to board through an opening under the floor.
“Batman! Robin!” said an old man with a white beard and a strange-looking hat who was in this small group. “You saved us before. We thought you were with the pirates who’ve been raiding our ruined homeland since the attack!”
Batman clasped the hand of the high priest. “Kano! Good to see you. I fear we bring bad news. Emperor Taro died reaching us. But how did you survive?”
“You know we Tritonians are pacifistic,” said Kano. “We were helpless when the rebels turned on poor Lanya and Taro. That awful thing blasted our home to bits! Thankfully, our scientists had already perfected a method to allow us to breathe water should the need arise, and most of the survivors of the destruction were thus saved. With some divine intervention, we may be able to make that change a permanent one, if necessary.”
“Where is Lanya?” asked Robin. “Is she safe? What attacked you?”
The dark-haired man next to Kano frowned. “Still impulsive, eh, Robin?” said the man, whose name was Darius. “Poor Lanya died in the first attack when the palace guards attacked them. Those men later insisted that they did so against their own will. We have them in a makeshift cell. As for what killed her and ruined this city, it was a massive craft shaped like an iceberg!”
“That fits with what Johnny Thunder learned when he called about the loss of the S.S. Martha,” said Batman. “I assumed I could join him when Taro reached us.” Turning toward Robin, he said, “I’m sorry, son.”
“So am I,” said Robin. “Such a loss. At least we can bring her killers to justice. That helps some.”
Batman shook his head sadly. “Some.”
Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Steve Trevor, and Octavia left South Atlantis, zooming through the exit crater in the invisible plane to the surface world before plunging down beneath the waves toward Tritonis. It had taken great effort to convince Guida to stay behind in Aurania and take care of Queen Eeras, who was still in a coma.
Octavia snuggled closer to Aquaman. “I fear Mother will never recover,” said the fiery redhead. “Manlius has much to answer for!”
Aquaman enjoyed having the beautiful woman near, but he wished he could promise Mera, as she was called by her family, that all would be fine. He knew life was uncertain enough that he could not make any rash promises. His late father had never realized that he would go to sleep one night and wake up the next day to find that his beloved bride had vanished and would never return to the oceanographer nor their infant son. “We’ll stop Manlius and take back Venturia from Clea, too!” he said boldly.
“Queen Clea and I go back quite a ways,” said Wonder Woman. “She is an unrepentant villainess with delusions of grandeur. She thinks she alone should govern lost Atlantis.”
“She almost killed you before, too, Angel,” said Steve. “Don’t go against her without me!”
“Now would I do that?” she replied with a smile.
“Look ahead!” said Aquaman. “There! The city-state of Tritonis is decimated. That odd bat-like vehicle can only mean Batman is here!”
Wonder Woman smiled. “Praise Hera! With Batman and Robin here, our success is almost certain!”
Steve frowned. More costumed competition! he thought.
Soon, Darius — the handsome man who had spoken to Robin — brought the new arrivals to the Dynamic Duo. A pretty brunette girl, who was his daughter Selena, accompanied him. “Gentlemen, we have other costumed arrivals,” he said. “Wonder Woman claims to be your ally.”
“Welcome, Wonder Woman!” said Batman, smiling as he shook her hand. Wonder Woman greeted them warmly, and they explained all they had learned. “We need to stop Manlius, but if he was here, he has fled with that iceberg,” said Batman.
Aquaman nodded. “I no longer detect his strong mental force. He has fled for this New Discovery Island you spoke of before.”
“Then we should follow him, or we’ll never be safe!” said old Kano.
Selena, the pretty girl, admired Aquaman’s broad shoulders even as she eyed Robin’s lithe grace. “Father, may I stay while you talk?” she asked. “May I join you? I know you can’t leave the ocean, but we could go that far!”
“No, Selena,” said Darius. “While that is true, we depart soon for New Discovery Island to attack the iceberg, and you need to stay with your mother and the other refugees.” He said to the others, “My child loves to travel beneath the waves! Why, she’d even go to the surface, if I allowed it, where she would call herself Aqua-Girl.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: The Earth-One version of this tale, which has an untold Earth-Two equivalent, is “Aquaman’s New Partner, Aqua-Girl,” World’s Finest Comics #133 (May, 1963).]
Octavia looked concerned at any delay, so Aquaman spoke hurriedly to all the gathered group. “My own father taught me a love of the ocean,” he began, seeking to take her mind off her worries. “He developed a process that enabled him to safely travel down to a ruined part of Atlantis — Poseidonis, we called it. There he taught me about life after performing the same procedure on me when I reached my teens. Funny thing is that process never worked for anyone else. He and I alone benefited from it. I’ve often wondered if it was not the process at all, but something else about us that allowed we Curry men to live beneath the waves. My other powers developed years later, after I first took the name Aquaman.”
“At least a dolphin didn’t crash through your study window one night!” said Robin in an effort to fight off his sorrow over Lanya.
Batman smiled sadly. He knew the brave young man was fighting grief. “Together, we can stop this iceberg. Plus, our old friend Johnny Thunder is on its trail as well!”
“Johnny!” said Wonder Woman. “Poor dear! I hope he is not hurt! Without his Thunderbolt, he is just a normal man!”
“Johnny is ever resourceful!” assured Batman.
“The island features a lost civilization based on old Rome,” added Steve. “Nero was its emperor when last we were there, and Wonder Woman defeated him. Still, somebody is using the isle as a base from which to launch this Leviathan II.”
“Manlius is pulling all the strings,” explained Aquaman. “If he has been behind Eeras’ madness and is where the iceberg has been seen, then he is likely literally the evil mind behind all this tragedy.”
“Did he employ those surface pirates you defeated, Batman?” asked Wonder Woman.
“I hoped we could have you use your lasso to determine the truth!” said Batman.
Octavia fumed. “While we wait, my kingdom suffers under Clea, and my mother lies in a coma!”
Aquaman held her and impulsively kissed her. She returned his passion, and he soothed her worries. “We’ll leave soon,” he said. “Trust me.”
Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman soon returned from questioning the captive pirates.
“They say their leader is the Black Jack, the Pirate King,” said Wonder Woman. “He commands the Leviathan, and apparently Manlius commands him! They say he listens to unseen voices!”
Aquaman released Octavia. “Black Jack is my old enemy. The Pirate King and I have dueled dozens of times, and I know he is capable of anything. He is not the kind of man to willingly serve another!”
“Based on what we saw with Eeras, he may not have any choice in the matter!” said Wonder Woman.
“Then let’s get the Sub-Batmarine and the invisible plane and go Roman!” said Robin resolutely.
On New Discovery Island, Imperius spoke angry words to the captive Johnny Thunder.
“Why is it that your kind cannot leave us in peace?” he said. “Is it your greed that drives you to encroach upon our waters? Do you seek wealth and material gain? Or is it envy at the glory and grandeur of Rome? Do you want to destroy what your own pathetic cultures can never attain? In any event, since I took the throne following the death of my father Nero, I have vowed to punish all who would dare strike our home with such impudence and rash effrontery.”
“Listen to me,” said Johnny. “Those allies of yours are criminals. They’re using your technology for their own purposes. They’re lying to you about the alleged attacks on this place. They want radioactive isotopes to power that hunk of ice. They aren’t just using it to defend your isle. They killed folks who never even thought about your island! Don’t let Black Jack use you!” He had heard enough during his time on the Leviathan II to realize that Black Jack and his unseen master were manipulating the otherwise noble Imperius.
Imperius scowled. “Do you think me simple? I, born of Nero, to be an avenging son! I am a New Roman, and this land is mine. No one makes use of our science unless I so will it!” Still, Johnny’s words seemed to get through the man’s anger, as he added, “Bring Black Jack to me! I would seek answers. Curse these pains within my brain!” He held his hand against his head in agony as he spoke these words.
“Mind control!” muttered Johnny. “This poor sap is being used. I’d wager the same voice that tells Jack what to do also drives Imperius into these rages against all foreigners. They tricked him into equipping their Leviathan and use his isle as their base, but he doesn’t see that they have been using the craft for their own secret agenda.” Johnny then watched as Black Jack entered with his usual swaggering bravado.
“You called, O mighty Emperor!” said the pirate, smirking as he bowed deeply.
“I need an accounting of what you’ve been doing with the Leviathan,” said Imperius. “Sinking ships that you claim sought to exploit our resources would never drain the craft of energy to the extent that has been shown.”
“Well, Majesty, we did use it to plunder a sunken city or two, but that’s the least me crew deserve for serving you so finely,” said Black Jack.
Imperius struck him and said, “Cur! Jackal! You attack on my command alone. How dare you bring death to those who never sought my harm? As for those beneath the ocean, did you not realize that my mother came from those races? I never knew her, but Nero swore her to be royalty from those lost realms. That is where my own sea-born strength, speed, and ability to live underwater came from. You know those of New Rome breathe only air, like most surface men.”
Black Jack’s eyes blazed in rage. “You may be a type of fish-man royalty, but you can’t treat the Pirate King like this!” he shouted. “Leviathan answers to me alone. I’ll use it to turn this throwback isle to rubble!”
Then pain rocked both men as their unseen master struck from afar.
At that moment, Johnny took his chances and darted forward. Racing toward Black Jack, he managed to tackle him. “I’ll bet you’re the rat behind most of this whole plot!” he said.