Adventure Comics #446
Title: The Manta-Ray Means Murder!
Cover Title: Showdown at Sea -- The Manta-Ray Means Murder!
Cover Date: July-August 1976
Anthology: 2 Stories
Other Stories: The Creeper: Mind Over Murder
Writer: Paul Levitz and Martin Pasko (Script)
Art: Jim Aparo
Editor: Joe Orlando
Cover: Jim Aparo
Cover Price: $0.30
Page Count: 11 pages
Aquaman and Mera return to the Aquacave in time to prevent Topo from accidently choking Aquababy. In the meantime, Robin has been searching for Aqualad, but has failed to reach him, and reports this news to Aquaman.
Robin can't find Aqualad because he and Tula are undercover trying to stop a smuggling operation. Aqualad is caught and learns that Black Manta is in charge of the operation. Tula is thrown off the ship they were on, much to Aqualad's amusement.
Aquaman goes to find Aqualad and finds Tula on the riverbed. The two then attack the boat. After taking out Manta's men Aquaman takes on Black Manta, who reveals that he knows more about Aquaman's current situation than he should. Tula frees Aqualad and with Aquaman's help they corner Black Manta. Of course, being Black Manta, he's actually over a trapdoor that leads to his ship, which escapes the Aqua-trio despite the help of a giant squid.
The cover of this issue is the classic Bicentennial cover, sometimes referred to as the "Flag" cover. At the top of the cover, the words "DC COMICS SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL" are lettered in red, white and blue. Along the left side, Aquaamn is riding a seahorse and carrying a large United States flag. The Adventure Comics and Aquaman logos are across the flag. The lower right is dedicated to the actual cover scene.
The issue starts out with Artie, Jr in danger, which follows from the cliffhanger to the previous issue.
Tula is drinking freely of champagne, much to Aqualad's consternation. They are on a floating night spot called the Club Mark Twain, floating in the Mississippi Delta, and Aqualad is trying to track down a smuggling operation. He's a bit surprised to find Black Manta in charge.
While Aquaman is hunting down Black Manta, Karshon, the ursurper monitors the Aquacave, and knows that Mera and Artie Jr are alone.
The final scene has Aquaman revealing that Black Manta is apparently gun-running to Atlantis. The giant squid didn't stop Manta, but did damage his ship and reveal some of the cargo.
Interesting twists... Aquaman deposed, and now Manta is involved.