|"The Trail of the Ring"|
|First Published:||October, 1968|
|Previous Issue:||Aquaman #40|
|Next Issue:||Aquaman #42|
"The Trail of the Ring"Edit
A crestfallen Aquaman returns to Atlantis. It has been nearly a week since his wife, Queen Mera, was abducted. To date, his search for her has been fruitless. The only clue he has to her abductor's identity is the image of a ring with a five-sided stone. Aquaman consults with Narkran, his first deputy and the man he left in charge of Atlantis during his absence. There has been no ransom demand. No word at all about Mera. Aquaman next turns to Zancol, an aged Atlantean who is said to have visited all points of interest beneath the seas. Zancol identifies the ring as one worn by the Maarzons, savage tribesmen who occupy a colony some three days out from Atlantis. Aquaman departs immediately for the Maarzon colony. To shave two days off of his journey, Aquaman elects to travel through an area of the sea, known by the Atlanteans as "The Depths". The Depths are largely uncharted, and the dangers that lie within are unknown. These factors do not deter Aquaman from his course. As he descends into the Depths, the sea grows cold and the light goes from dim to darkness. Aquaman's passage through the Depths does not go unnoticed. On a ridge above him lurk humpbacked humanoids with yellow skin and dark spots. Through their antennae they issue forth a telepathic command to a particularly vicious breed of fish. The fish are sent out in wave after wave to devour the intruder, Aquaman. Aquaman spies the schools of fish descending on him and issues forth his own telepathic commands to turn back. They do not. His only choice is to outrun them. To that end, he rides his steed, Storm, hard, through the Depths.
The fish are almost upon Aquaman when they suddenly slow their pursuit and, ultimately, turn back. Aquaman surmises that the fish fear whatever lies ahead of him, in the Depths. Deeper still travels the King of the Seas. Suddenly, the ink black darkness gives way to illumination. Over the next ridge Aquaman discovers a hidden colony. It's inhabitants are a beautiful looking people who seem to live in harmony with enormous sea monsters. The creatures are phosphorescent, providing the colonists with light and heat. The people take no mind of Aquaman's presence, virtually ignoring him. A scream breaks the silence. Aquaman sees one of the creatures bearing down on a young girl. None of the colonists move to help her, nor react in any fashion. Aquaman leaps into the fray. He tears the horn free from one of the creatures, then uses it to stab the monster to death. The colonists seem puzzled by Aquaman's actions. Then their eyes fix on him with anger and hatred. A trio of men, each possessing enormous strength, grab Aquaman, and haul him before the colonist's adjudicator. Aquaman must stand trial for his crime.
Though he cannot understand their language, Aquaman is quick to surmise his dilemma. Clearly, the killing of the sea beast is considered a criminal act among the colonists. Even the girl whose life he saved shows nothing but contempt for Aquaman. The adjudicator fixes a strange device on Aquaman. Aquaman fears that he's about to be executed, but the "weapon" only projects images into his mind. The history of the colony plays out in his mind's eye. The colonists maintain a symbiotic relationship with the creatures. The creatures provide light and heat for the colonists and their crops. In return, the colonists allow themselves to be used as sustenance for the creatures. Horrified, Aquaman is led away to a cage. As his captors fumble with the cage door, Aquaman breaks free, and subdues the two men who were holding him. He makes a run for his seahorse. The colonists close on him too swiftly, however, and Aquaman has no choice but to turn and fight his way out. Picking up the broken horn he had used to slay the monster, Aquaman begins furiously clubbing his way through the colonists. Meanwhile, back in Atlantis, Aqualad, who is still recovering from a terrible sword wound, somehow senses his mentor's peril. He makes an attempt to leave the Atlantean hospital, but is subdued by the hospital staff. Back in the Depths, Aquaman switchs tactics. Using his telepathic control over marine life, Aquaman draws one of the creatures to him. Leaping onto its back, Aquaman raises the horn and threatens to impale the creature. The colonists back away. Aquaman rides the monster out to where he left his steed, Storm. Switching mounts, Aquaman leaves the colony behind, and proceeds onward to Maarzon.
"The Trail of the Ring"Edit
- Mera (Behind the scenes)
- Narkran (First Appearance)
- Zancol (Single Appearance)