Navy Captain Bradley, an old friend of Aquaman, uses a shell to contact Aquaman. Their anchor is stuck on the ocean floor, and the carrier can't move. Aquaman goes to clear the problem, and finds a sperm whale and giant squid locked in a battle around the chain.
The sea creatures ignore Aquaman's commands, so he uses an underwater volcano to heat up the chain enough to make them part from it. Then they head back to Atlantis, but are trapped under a rockslide.
They awaken to three strange being pulling the rocks from them. Their leader is Dr Starbuck, a scientist who has invented a way for people to live underwater. He has also brought his pals Boduhr and Krakka, a gorilla and sea eagle. They abandoned the surface world when they were considered freaks by local villagers, and happened to spot Aquaman and Aqualad being buried by the rockslide, and saved the pair's lives.
Outcasts now, the three former air-breathers ask to go to Atlantis. Aquaman reluctantly agrees, then makes Dr Starbuck an advisor once in Atlantis. He is almost immediately called away on another mission, and he and Aqualad set out, only to be attacked as they leave the city, and dragged down into the Dungeon Depths!
Aquaman and Aqualad's seahorse mounts come stampeding through the city. Boduhr the Gorilla captures them, but there is no clue as to what happened to their riders. Mera goes off to find the pair, leaving Aquababy in charge, with Dr Starbucks as regent.
Dr Starbucks quickly takes advantage of his power, raiding a desalinization plant. The Navy follows them, and tries to stop them, but the raid succeeds. An Atlantean questions the attack, and Dr Starbuck tells him that the plant was robbing the sea of nutriments needed for Atlantis' health.
This convinces the Atlanteans that Starbuck is right, and they go along with further attacks. Which convince the Navy that Atlantis has declared war on the coast. Their new mission is to seek out and destroy Atlantis. Meanwhile, Aqualad and Aquaman try to find a way out of the Dungeon Depths.
Starbuck convinces the Atlanteans to destroy any Navy ship, because of the nuclear poison they spew. The Atlanteans despair that Aquaman and Mera will ever return. They don't know that Starbuck is holding Mera captive and drugged.
The Navy search vessel's grapple drags down into the Dungeon Depths, and Aquaman and Aqualad climb out on the line. They discover that something is very wrong, and resolve to find out why Starbuck's pets and Atlanteans have captured Navy frogmen...
Aquaman sneaks into the city as one of the captured frogmen, and discovers that Starbuck is causing war. Worse, the frogmen have homing beacons on their suits. The Navy now knows the location of Atlantis, and will shortly be bombing the city.
Aquaman, still disguised as a frogman, is chosen to battle Boduhr to the death. During the fight, his mask comes loose and the citizens realize who he is. Just as the gorilla is about to kill him, Aquababy uses his powers to save his father.
This snaps the citizens out of Starbuck's spell, and they overthrow the evil ruler. But on the surface, the Navy has already started to bomb the city. Luckily, Mera puts up a hard-water shield just in time to save the city. Starbuck is turned over to the authorities.
One of the better Aquaman-as-focus covers, with Aquaman's shocked expression overpowering the gorilla arms attacking him, and Aquababy in the background.
One of the Navy pilots promises Aqualad a ride in a jet if they clear the anchor. Aqualad doesn't have time to collect, as Aquaman is in a hurry to see his family.
Aquaman is hesitant to bring Dr Starbuck to Atlantis. He indicates that it's location is secret and no air-breather has ever been there. He obviously is forgetting about Taggert, who found Atlantis and enslaved the population back in issue 19. That same issue used the Dungeon Depths as a plot device, as does this issue.
Nuclear submarines and ships don't give off radiation, but are a danger if they are damaged. Dr Starbuck seems to be an ultra-environmentalist, with no morals to prevent him from being worse than the people he is trying to stop.
This issue's letter column is titled "The Floodgates are Open!", and features ten letters. They also say that if you enclose a stamped, self-addresses return envelope, they would try to answer your letter personally. Impressive.
Shorts and notable ads in this issue: yet another one-page Cheerios ad cartoon featuring Rocky and Bullwinkle, and a one-page public service cartoon on fighting pollution.
Good art, but the plot is pretty weak.