Aquaman returns to Atlantis, distressed. He has not yet found Mera. Vulko has an antidote for the people, to turn them back into water-breathers, but Aquaman is not interested. He visits his first deputy, Narkran, and tells him that he is in charge of the city while Aquaman searches.
Aquaman then visits Zancol, a wise old man, to ask if he knows where Aquaman can find a five-sided stone like the one on the ring on the fist of the guy that punched him out. Zancol tells him that the Maarzons wear that type of ring, and warns him that they are savages. They consider the rings to be good luck charms.
As the journey to the Maarzon colony is some distance from Atlantis, Aquaman decides to go there via The Depths, cutting the three-day trip to one. Zancol warns him against it, but Aquaman is determined.
Aquaman visits with Aqualad, Tula, and Artie before he goes, then vanishes into the deep...
As Aquaman travels through The Depths, he finds them dark, silent, and foreboding, but doesn't think he's in any great danger. He's wrong, as creatures are watching him and using telepathy they send hordes of small fish with big teeth after him. Aquaman senses them attacking and tries to use his own telepathy to turn them away but fails. He races deeper to escape them.
Aquaman enters deeper waters, and the fish turn back, as if afraid. Aquaman gets colder and colder, and begins to fear for his life. Even he has limits to how much cold he can endure. He suddenly sees a light, and realizes that there is a colony here. He enters, and finds people living with strange sea beasts that give off heat and light. They don't seem to care about his presence.
Amazed, he wanders until he sees one of the beasts attacking a girl. He tries to get the people to help, but they don't understand him. He attacks and kills the beast. The people then get angry, and capture him. They take him into a courtroom like setting. Aquaman wonders if he committed a crime by saving the girl.
The people aim a strange device at him, and induce a hallucination. He sees images of the monsters helping the people to survive, over and over. Then he sees images of a beast killing and eating a person. He understands, now. The beasts provide heat and light, and in exchange the people allow the beasts to eat some of them.
They take him to a cell, but he escapes. As he fights, back in Atlantis, Aqualad tries to get out to help his friend, sensing that he's in danger. He falls and hurts himself, and is taken back to his room.
Aquaman uses his telepathy to call one of the monsters to him and rides it away from his attackers. It gets him far enough away that he finds Storm and rides off, up to the colony of the Maarzons...
The cover, like many of the covers during this era, is quite striking. Little fish, that look like pirahna, attack a helpless but fighting Aquaman.
There's a letter in the letter column from Tony Isabella. That couldn't be The Tony Isabella, creator of Black Lightning, could it?
This is the second issue in a row that Aquaman brushes off Vulko like he can't be bothered with him. It's a wonder Vulko isn't getting annoyed yet.
This issue is interesting in that Aquaman is the villain of the piece. He saves a girl's life, but endangers the entire city by killing one of the beasts that allow them to survive in the cold depths.
This story is reprinted in Adventure Comics #492 (Oct 1982).
Good story, with interesting implications. Aquaman is a good guy, but he did wrong and was unwilling, due to the circumstances, to pay for his crime.