“There is the Leviathan rising up toward the island!” shouted Aquaman. “By Neptune, it’s blasting its own base!”
“Truly there is no honor among thieves!” said Wonder Woman. “Do you still detect Manlius below?”
“Yes!” said Aquaman. “He is on the isle itself.”
“I’d better attack the Leviathan itself with my plane!” said Wonder Woman. “Can you storm the isle?”
“Watch me, Princess!” said Aquaman. “Mera, create a hard water ramp to get me down there!”
Octavia obeyed, then followed as Aquaman jumped down and slid to the island below.
“I’ll stick with you, Angel!” said Steve Trevor.
Wonder Woman smiled. “As always!” Standing tall, the amazing Amazon tossed her magic lasso around one craggy tip of the huge craft below. Commanding the plane to streak higher, she towed the Leviathan closer to shore.
Meanwhile, Batman and Robin’s Sub-Batmarine had reached the island, too, and Darius and Kano rode with the caped crusaders.
“You two stay here,” said Batman. “Robin and I are going to take a Roman holiday of sorts!”
Racing to land, the Dynamic Duo quickly fought through a squad of guards dressed like centurions.
“Batman, the Emperor awaits in the coliseum, right?” said Robin as he kicked a guard down.
“They do in all the old films, chum!” said Batman as they entered a scene of chaos.
Johnny Thunder was struggling with Black Jack, while Imperius was gasping as his homeland fell to the energy blasts of the Leviathan II.
“Say, you guys are a sight for sore eyes!” said Johnny as he saw the familiar newcomers. “Can you stop that crazy death-ship?”
Batman nodded, then wrestled Black Jack to the ground, while Robin helped Johnny to his feet. “We need to let Diana handle it while we find the puppet master behind all this!” said Batman.
“You seek Manlius!” cried Imperius. “He dwells above us! I thought him an ally, but now see he was ever a villain!”
The threesome charged toward the chamber beyond the arena.
Aquaman had dropped down ahead of them, and Octavia raced beside him. “He’s in there!” cried Aquaman.
But as he kicked open two huge doors, he saw not an imposing master villain but a frail, helpless figure who cried in pain behind a glowing wall of energy.
“Please free me!” begged Manlius. “The magic she uses has driven me without rest for so long. So many minds! All the pain I am in! I can’t stop making them do what she wants!”
Batman, Aquaman, Robin, and Johnny stood back as a glow surrounded the agonized Manlius.
“He’s a prisoner, not a master!” said the astute Batman. “Someone is forcing him to use his mental powers to their limit to control Eeras, Black Jack, the guards in Lanya’s court, and maybe even Clea!”
“That glow keeps us back!” said Robin. “It’s a force-field!”
“It is magic — Atlantean magic!” said Octavia.
“Stay back,” said Aquaman. “I’ll try to break through to him. Maybe my telepathy could at least disrupt the spell, though it won’t work with ordinary human minds. His evolved one has rules all its own!”
As he probed with his mind, Aquaman was met a stronger will that was sinister and powerful, and also somehow akin to his own.
“Let the charade end now!” said a woman with flowing blonde hair and a green and gold gown. “Let my magicks part the veil that concealed me. ‘Tis time I met my errant sons!”
“Sons?” asked Johnny.
“Aye! Aquaman and Imperius!” she laughed as Imperius staggered into the room.
“I never knew my mother!” said Imperius.
“Nor did I!” said a puzzled Aquaman.
“’Twas my choice,” she said. “I needed only to conceive you by land-dwellers and let time bring your heritage-given powers to fruition! I am Alanna, princess of Atlantis — the part you know as Tritonis!”
“That’s the part you destroyed!” said Robin.
“Aye! For it was there I was raised and cast out,” she said. “Denied my throne or status because I sought the dark ways of ancient magic!”
Octavia gasped. “I have heard legends of the Sea Witch who betrayed her royal birthright to practice evil magicks that were ancient before Atlantis occupied the sea bed! You are that Witch? You were stripped of your name, your throne, exiled to the outer seas!”
“Indeed!” said Alanna. “I became a believer in the magicks of lost Nyarl-Amen! The fish-men who ruled all of the water worlds eons before Atlantis sank!”
“You are said to be soulless!” said Octavia. “Why have you forced this mentally evolved pawn to bring such sorrow to us all?”
“She wants to see all Atlantis pay for exiling her for her black magic,” said Aquaman.
Imperius cursed. “No! She wants to see all Atlanteans die so her foul other-worldly masters of Nyarl-Amen can return to claim their old homes!”
The Sea Witch laughed almost musically. “Such bright sons! I seduced Nero and Tom Curry because I knew legend said the son of an Atlantean witch and a surface man could rise to unheard of power! Thus I pretended to love them both. I played the hapless castaway, when I knew from the start that all I needed was their seed!”
“If you are my mother, then that is why I have such powers!” said Aquaman. “Did you use some spell to give my father his own abilities?”
She nodded. “Exactly! I let the fool think he had stumbled upon some wondrous process, but it was ever my spell that gave him water-breathing skills, and our mixed magic and his altered genes gave you your own gifts, not any science of his!”
“You heartless shrew!” cried Imperius. “You are no mother of mine! You destroy my home even as we speak! I’ll have no more of this!” He turned and raced out to stop the Leviathan.
“I don’t know if you lie or not, but I won’t let you bring about this plan!” vowed Aquaman.
“Stop me!” said Alanna. “I dare you, stripling — half-breed! First, I’ll have Manlius use his hold on Eeras and the others to burn their petty minds to charred pitch!”
“The glow is magic!” shouted Batman. “It keeps us back!”
“Perhaps I can break through!” said Aquaman.
But a sneering voice cut him short. “Not till you kill me, Aquaman!” said Black Jack as he entered with drawn cutlass. “After dozens of battles, I want your blood!” said the Pirate King.
“Arthur!” cried Octavia. “What of mother?”
“You guys can’t get through that field of magic,” said Johnny Thunder, “but they said they didn’t kill me because I had the taint of magic upon me from years of using the T-bolt! Maybe I can!”
Charging the glow, Johnny passed through even as pain wracked his body. Hurts! But got to keep moving! Got to save them! he thought. Nearby, Batman and Robin struggled to move forward, but the magic held them back.
The Sea Witch laughed but frowned as Johnny reached Manlius and decked him with one punch. “Had to do it!” Johnny said sadly. “Poor guy couldn’t help himself, but what else would shut him down and free the others?”
“Fool! You broke his hold on my pawns!” cursed Alanna.
As Aquaman grabbed a sword and began to fight with Black Jack, Octavia generated a hard water fist that stopped short of hitting the Sea Witch.
“Little girl! You can’t harm one as versed in the dark arts as I!” taunted Alanna.
Batman and Robin turned as guards rushed inside. “Here we go again!” said Robin.
An angry Imperius had neither time nor patience for the mocking woman who had claimed to be his mother. He also gave little thought to his alleged half-brother Aquaman. All the New Roman thought about was saving his homeland from the power of the Leviathan II. He now saw Wonder Woman’s mighty robot plane holding the craft in place with strength of design and one woman’s awesome will to victory.
Crashing through the hull of the giant craft, Imperius began to systematically pummel the crewmen who had, in truth, never been loyal to anyone but the Pirate King.
Seeing the attack from on high, Wonder Woman said, “Steve, keep the plane in position! I’m going down!”
Before the blond man could reply, the amazing Amazon had dropped down and smashed into the craft. Racing forward, she tore down a heavy metal door that led to the heart of the death ship, using the metal door as a shield to deflect energy blasts until she managed to smother the main gun port in bent metal. This won’t hold long, but by then I hope to have subdued the crew, Wonder Woman mused.
Her skill had enabled her to clear the deck with ease, even as Imperius crashed inside the main deck.
“Woman, stand down!” he said as he deliberately crushed the engine’s fail-safe device. “I mean to rid my home of this foul abomination!”
“If this explodes, it will take the whole crew with it!” gasped Wonder Woman. “They may be killers, but life is sacred in all forms!”
Imperius nodded and said, “So be it!” He helped her carry the crew to safety, even as she released her lasso’s hold on the craft. Moments later, it met a fiery end in the waters off of New Discovery Island.
Back in the city, Aquaman dueled with Black Jack.
“I’ve hated you for nearly a decade now!” sneered Black Jack as he thrust home with a sword. “How many times have you ruined my schemes? How many times have you tried to lock me away? This ends our enmity!”
Aquaman turned, and the blade grazed his side. He continued to fight and connected with a hard right. “How many deaths have you cheated?” he said. “I also wish to end this now, but with your death!”
Turning, he saw his alleged mother the Sea Witch as he invoked the odd names of the ancient fish-men. Ebony fire suddenly spread from her hands toward Octavia.
Aquaman gasped and slammed his body into Black Jack’s, and the Pirate King screamed as he fell between Octavia and the magical energies. He stiffened and remained still.
“Now for you!” said a bitter Aquaman.
Alanna the Sea Witch cursed as her angry son closed in on her. Batman, Robin, and Johnny Thunder held off the remaining guards who were uncertain who to aid.
“You were created for naught but my own desires,” she hissed, “to bring forth my ancient masters.”
“I never knew a mother, and I feel as if I still do not!” said Aquaman. “Your evil makes you no relation of mine!”
Alanna laughed and said, “Then I shall rid the world of you in fires of ebony hue!” She created a nimbus of black fire that hovered over them all.
“Mera, get out! She’s my problem!” cried Aquaman.
Robin scooped up the fallen Manlius and dragged him out, even as Batman dropped another pellet.
The magnesium flare exploded, and Alanna cried out as her concentration wavered. The flames collapsed around her, and in seconds, the Sea Witch was gone.
“Her masters were harsh,” said Aquaman. “I’d say they turned on her as soon as she failed them!”
“I hated to deck that little guy,” said Johnny, “but it was all I could think of to do to break his hold on the other folks!”
“You did just fine,” said Batman. “He’ll recover and thank you for freeing him from the Sea Witch.”
Aquaman held Octavia and said, “It’s over, Mera. Now to make peace with Imperius and see to Queen Clea.”
Batman approached the hero and said, “Aquaman, what of Black Jack? Your old foe made good his escape!”
Aquaman nodded. “That crafty old pirate always gets away. He’s cheated dozens of apparent deaths!”
“Sounds like a couple of felons I could name back in Gotham City,” said Batman.
Imperius entered with Wonder Woman. “I was used by those scoundrels,” explained the weary monarch. “I regret that, and I have made amends. The Leviathan II is no more. I vow to never allow my isle to be used for any enemy of Atlantis or the other surface realms, either. Now begone.”
“What about the claim she made?” asked Aquaman slowly. “We could be siblings.”
“Consider it enough this day that we part as friends!” declared the proud New Roman.
“Wonder Woman, what of mother?” asked Octavia. “Did you make contact with her via the mental radio in your plane?”
Diana smiled. “Indeed I did. She has recovered fully. I’d say that’s due to Johnny, here.”
Johnny Thunder blushed and said, “I just tried to help!”
In Venturia, Queen Clea faced an angry Queen Sharkeeta.
“You deny us prey! We won’t allow it!” cried the fierce shark-maid.
“You have no say in the matter,” replied Queen Clea. “I seeded the very air itself and all surrounding waters with a spray designed to devolve you all back to ordinary sharks! I would hurry back to sea before you all choke to death!” laughed the evil blonde.
Sharkeeta gasped as all around her her sisters lost their ability to fly and regressed into their original shark forms, and many died on the sandy shores before they could reach the nearby waters. Others escaped to the waters off the city state of Venturia.
“You’ll pay! I alone am immune to such tactics!” hissed Sharkeeta. She flew toward the blonde Amazon, wrestling with her foe in the air until they both plunged into the nearby sea beneath the shark queen’s fierce form. Neither emerged again.
Some weeks later, an assembled group of people were called back to witness a historic wedding ceremony in a new building built amongst the ruins of Tritonis. Present were Johnny Thunder, Batman, Robin, Guida, Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor, Darius, Selena, and Kano. Other rulers of Atlantean city-states, including Queen Paralea, and a mermaid named Princess Kuella of the Undersea People, were also in attendance. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The City Under the Sea,” Superman #67 (November-December, 1950) and “The Undersea City,” Superman #14 (January-February, 1942).]
“With Taro and Lanya dead, there is no one to rule in Tritonis,” said the old high priest Kano, who had performed the ceremony of union for Aquaman and Octavia.
“I also renounce my throne due to age and the way I was used by Manlius,” announced Queen Eeras of Aurania. “It is my wish that my daughter Princess Octavia not only resume the rule of Venturia now that Clea has vanished, but also hold rule of this city-state as well!”
Octavia held Aquaman’s hand. “And it is my wish that the city-states of both North Atlantis and South Atlantis, and all residents thereof — both air-breathers and water-breathers alike — swear loyalty to my chosen husband, who may well be the true heir to Tritonis, anyway! I give you Arthur of Atlantis!”
Aquaman smiled and kissed his new bride. “I still think of myself as a surface man and an adventurer, but I welcome this new role. I love the sea and all beneath it. I’ve championed the surface of the seas for years and now embrace both the defense of a strong, united Atlantis and a lovely queen by my side!”
Johnny smiled. “Gosh! He’ll make a swell king! Too bad we never got to know him better. He could have been a fine JSAer!”
“Don’t worry, Johnny,” said Batman. “Think of it this way — now he has a family and can always be counted on to keep all the water realms as allies to the nations above!”
Robin nodded. “Yes, and I think Lanya and Taro would be proud of their possible kinsman.”
Wonder Woman nodded. “As Shakespeare said in paraphrase of another hero, ‘He’ll prove most royal’!”
“All hail King Arthur!” cheered the crowds.