On a dark waterfront dock, a man is killed for being a "stoolie" suspected of gathering information for the police. Aquaman, still searching for Mera, finds the man as he utters his last words. He decides to report the matter to the police and move along, when a shot is fired at him.
He pursues his attacker, and gets trapped in an alley. Ducking into a basement, he hits his head and is knocked out. His attacker searches for him in vain, then goes back to report his failure to his boss. His boss recognizes the description as Aquaman, and puts a price on Aquaman's head.
Aquaman wakes up in the basement to hear someone coming down toward him. It's a woman, who asks him what he's doing in her pad, but otherwise seems unconcerned. He asks her for paper so he can write what he saw for the police and get back to water. He entrusts her with the information, and heads for the water.
He doesn't get there, because every thug for miles around is now gunning for him to get the reward. He's almost taken out by two of them because he's so weak from lack of water.
Back in the ocean, Aqualad's captors finally release him. The Bugala has arrived and they need his skills.
Aquaman barely makes it to the water in time, but with his safety comes a sudden relaxation for Aqualad, who had been telepathically feeling Aquaman's distress. Unfortunately, Aqualad is in his own distress, facing the monster.
Back in the city, the note is delivered to the police by the woman, but she's become a target for the thugs hunting Aquaman.
Aquaman returns to the city to find out why a price is on his head... And so we leave with a triple cliff-hanger: Aqualad fighting the Bugala, Aquaman fighting the thugs, and the woman Aquaman unwittingly put into danger kidnapped...
I don't much like the cover of this one. Aquaman is going through the old cliche one hour out of water and I'll die thing...
Why doesn't Aquaman just borrow the woman's bathtub to sit in?
The thugs seem to think that Aquaman learned something from the stoolie, but he only heard mumbles as the man died. In any case, the thug leader doesn't intend to go ahead with his plan until Aquaman is dealt with.
This story is reprinted in Adventure Comics #495 (Jan 1983).
There is a circulation statement in this issue. Here are the numbers: The first column is the average over the preceding twelve months, the second is the exact numbers for the issue nearest their filing date (October 1st, 1968). The total number of copies printed: aver=331,000 and exact=325,000. The total subcribers: aver=650 and exact=383, and through dealers: aver=184,000 and exact=175,000. Total paid circulation: aver=184,650 and exact=175,383. Free copies sent out for both columns was 386, which made the total number of copies distributed: aver=185,036 and exact=175,769. Leftovers: aver=145,964 and exact=149,231. Compare these numbers to today's sales numbers for a bit of a shock.
Not as good as the other issues in this arc. Aquaman is a fish out of water dealing with the underworld.