As Aquaman, Aqualad, Mera and Artie, Jr are walking along the ocean floor near Atlantis, a sudden whirlpool surrounds them. They start to feel drowsy and drugged, but push on. Aquaman loses sight of the others, then hears Mera crying for help. He manages to find her and her attackers, but is punched out by a person wearing a strange ring before he can help her.
In Atlantis, Tula wonders where Aquaman is, as the council meeting has begun without him. She swims out to find out where he is, and finds Aqualad, Artie, and an unconscious Aquaman. He panics as he realizes that Mera has been captured, but goes with the others back to Atlantis.
In Atlantis, he decides he can't sit around waiting to see what will happen next, so he and Aqualad go out to search for her. They leave Artie in Tula's capable hands.
After a couple of days they find a strange underwater village that flickers as they watch. The enter it and dress in the robes of the natives, only to see Mera leading a procession, and acting as the people's queen.
As Aquaman tries to get a closer look he is noticed, and recognized as an outsider. He is attacked by the people but easily fights them off. Aqualad stops one of them from stabbing Aquaman in the back and is attacked himself. When he is injured, an enraged Aquaman goes to help him and is quickly taken out himself.
Aquaman wakes up with Aqualad in a dungeon. Aqualad says that he's ok, only lost a bit of blood. He also heard some of their captors talking, and he thinks the leaders of the village are sorcerers. As they try to figure out what to do next, the water in their cell is removed. Aquaman figures that Aqualad won't last an hour without water in his injured state. He calls for a whale to knock down their prison and escapes. He takes the injured Aqualad back to Atlantis, and returns to get Mera.
As he gets near the village again, he decides he should rest before entering. As he sleeps, he's attacked. He quickly figures out that the beast attacking him is a product of the sorcerers, because it flickers like the village did. When he attacks it, it vanishes.
He quickly enters the village, diguised in the robes again, and finds the Queen's chambers without difficulty. The guard attacks him with sorcerery, but he fights his way forward through it and gets into the Queen's chamber. He confronts the Queen, but she doesn't recognize him. When he looks into her eyes, they are a different color. It isn't Mera after all. He leaves, wondering about the coincidence, to continue his search for Mera.
This cover isn't as good as later ones, but the layout is different and interesting.
The council is meeting to discuss the fact that Atlanteans can now breathe air or water, thanks to an incident involving Black Manta and a serum Vulko developed. Speaking of Vulko, he has found a solution to the problem Manta caused with the dome. The whole Black Manta thing happened in issue #35.
Aqualad says "Wow! Dig those crazy threads..." Oh dear. We're in the sixties, yes?
Aqualad's injury gets bad enough due to the lack of water and the trying conditions he's in that he passes out before Aquaman can get them out of the prison, and gets sicker and sicker on the way home.
You really have to wonder how this village can possibly have a queen that looks exactly like Mera except for her eyes. But then, it's the DC Universe, and magic is involved...
This story is reprinted in Adventure Comics #491 (Sep 1982).
Good story, obviously a starting point. Enjoyable.