Atlantis is the sunken city of mythology that is closely linked to Aquaman in all his incarnations.
Atlantis generally refers to the main city of the sunken continent of Atlantis, a city that is also called Poseidonis. The other main city of Atlantis is Tritonis, and differs from Poseidonis in that the inhabitants are mer-people. The name Atlantis can also refer to the continent itself, and is sometimes used to indicate any city on the sea floor, just as most water-breathers are automatically considered Atlanteans by surfacers.
The people of DCU's Atlantis are fickle, petty, xenophobic, and ready to follow any leader who promises them what they want. In short, they are a mob. The population is uncertain, but many groups have broken away from the main city over the years, and other colonies exist outside of the area known as Atlantis.
In the original origin of the Golden Age Aquaman, his father discovered ruins that he believed were Atlantis and learned secrets from them. Those secrets allowed him to turn his son into Aquaman. Aquaman then used a palace in the ruins as his base of operations. The location of the ruins was never revealed, and the evidence of where it was located is contradictory.
Eventually, the Golden Age Aquaman ran across some living Atlanteans. They existed in a domed city and were air-breathers. Because of the war on the surface world, Aquaman tells the survivors that they are better off underwater, and that's the last we see of them.
In a later story, Aquaman takes a picture of the ruins of Atlantis. At this point in the Golden Age, his origin is completely de-linked from Atlantis. But that changed completely when Aquaman enters the Silver Age.
Aquaman's Silver Age origin revealed the location of Atlantis to be where the US Navy planned to test some bombs. Aquaman hadn't visited the city at that point, but his mother came from there. He knows enough lore of the city to recognize both Lisa Morel and Aqualad as exiles. He even attempts to return Aqualad to Atlantis.
Aquaman's first entry into Atlantis is in response to a distress call from the city, which was conquered by aliens from another dimension. After freeing the city, Aquaman and Aqualad are considered the official ambassadors of Atlantis to the outside world.
Aquaman later returns when Atlantis is threatened by odd explosions on the sea floor. The explosions are volcanic in origin and no real threat to the city.
In another event, sea beasts from Atlantis start to cause havoc on the surface world, and Aquaman learns that a villain named Poxomis has taken over the city. Aquaman and Aqualad help to restore order, and return to super-heroing.
When Aqualad gets sick, Aquaman takes him to Atlantis for healing, then sticks around to attend a wedding. When Aquaman is injured, Mera and Aqualad take him to Atlantis as well. Aquaman goes slightly insane and thinks he's the king and Mera is his queen. The Atlanteans humor him for fear that his injuries will get worse if they try to snap him out of it, but Aquaman turns out to be a tyrant and Mera restrains him. The Atlanteans exile him into a "lake of dense water" that he cannot escape from without help. He does escape, with the help of his finny friends, and returns to Atlantis sane again.
Later, when the Atlantean leader Juvor dies, Aquaman is elected to take his place as king. Aquaman reluctantly agrees, but is immediately told that he must take an Atlantean wife. While Aquaman leaves the city to think about it, a tyrant from Mera's world, Oceanus, takes over. Mera, rejected by Aquaman, rules at Oceanus' side, but due to her love for Aquaman she frees the city. She is declared an Atlantean and marries Aquaman after all.
Because Aquaman doesn't take her on his patrols, Mera gets bored in Atlantis and causes all kinds of trouble, including bringing people and pets from her own dimension that take over Atlantis. An old friend, Nikkor, drugs Mera, declares himself king and sells the Atlantean people into slavery. Aquaman helps them escape, and the mob returns to Atlantis to overthrow Nikkor and Mera, tossing them into the Dungeon Depths. After Aquaman rescues Mera and explains that she was drugged, the Atlanteans accept her as queen again.
Aquaman becomes a giant during one adventure, and moves Atlantis from its former location to a deeper and safer spot.
Aquababy is exiled from Atlantis shortly after his birth because of the danger from his powers, but is allowed back in when the powers fade for a time. Later, Aquababy is aged unnaturally by Tamerkhan, who takes over Atlantis. The Aqua-family overthrows the conquerors and Aquaman becomes king again. Aquababy is declared king when Aquaman and Aqualad disappear, and a visitor to Atlantis names Dr Starbuck becomes regent. Dr Starbuck leads the Atlanteans in attacks against the surface world, while disabling Mera with drugs (again!) to prevent her from stopping him. Aquaman and Aqualad escape from the Dungeon Depths and return to Atlantis to overthrow Dr Starbuck and prevent the war from escalating.
In the war against Necrus, the Black City, Aquaman is killed and Atlantis mourns its king. But Aquaman comes back, because what died was a projection of Aquaman and not the man himself.
Atlantis is plagued with seaquakes, but is built on coral sands designed to absorb the worst of the shocks. Aquaman reveals that an engineer named Dr Tryton built the dome over the city when it was threatened with sinking due to earthquakes.
When Manta infuses the dome with a chemical that causes water to boil, the dome is drained and the people are converted to air-breathers with Project X. Later, Dr Vulko finds a way to remove the chemicals and convert the people back into water-breathers, although not everyone is satisfied with a return to the status quo.
A soldier named Ragnar drugs Aquaman to make him evil and then takes over as Atlantis' ruler.
When Mera goes missing, Aquaman neglects his duties as king to find her, and his deputy Narkran takes over and becomes a tyrant. He is overthrown by Mupo after he threatens Tula. During this time, the city suffers from seaquakes and eventually must be strengthened against them.
The political intrigue in the city continues, and a politician named Noxden start to foment anger over being returned to water-breathers.
An insane underwater pirate named Captain Demo takes over Atlantis using the threat of hidden bombs in the city. Political intrigue continues, and various politicians decide that Aquaman must go as monarch. A council vote is held, and Aquaman is deposed. Karshon takes over, and works to convince the Atlanteans that Aquaman is a criminal by framing him for stealing Serum X for the Ocean Master. Aquaman learns that Black Manta is gun-running to Atlantis, and Karshon is revealed to be a villain called The Shark. Aquaman defeats The Shark in a confrontation, and Vulko becomes king of Atlantis.
King Vulko signs a deal with Universal Food Products, a surface company that wants to feed the world. But he doesn't realize that their farming methods threaten Atlantis and they have no intention of fixing the problems they will cause. Eventually the treachery is discovered by Aquaman, and the city cuts ties with the company.
King Vulko is briefly replaced with a hologram by water-breathing Nazis. He later welcomes Black Manta's troops as immigrants to the city, if they will come in peace. Later, when the Seal of Atlantis is stolen, Vulko leads the troops to war with the surface world as Aquaman races to find and restore the Seal. Fortunately, the mission is accomplished and the war prevented. Shortly after, Aquaman requests to be king again, but is turned down by Vulko.
At the very end of the Silver Age, the city is taken over by Jellyfish after Vulko dies, Mera goes insane with grief, Aqualad refuses the throne and a distant cousin of the royal family named Pletus seizes power then completely screws up the defense of the city. Aquaman frees the city then leaves it to them to find their own new king.
Silver Age Rulers of Atlantis
- Poxomis - takes over the city from unknown leaders
- King Juvor - presumably peacefully elected, passes away
- King Aquaman - elected king after Juvor, had his rule interrupted by:
- Oceanus - a tyrant from Mera's world who wants to rule with Mera
- Nikkor - an old friend of Mera's who drugs Mera and takes over the city
- Tamerkhan - an ancient being who uses Aquababy
- Dr Starbuck - an insane scientist who wants to start war with the surface world
- Ragnar - a soldier with lofty goals who drugs Aquaman and takes over the city
- Narkran - Aquaman's deputy, becomes a tyrant
- Captain Demo - takes over the city with the threat of hidden bombs
- Karshon - legally elected king after Aquaman is deposed
- Vulko - elected king after Karshon is overthrown and Aquaman refuses the throne
- Pletus - A distant relative of the royal line who seizes power in Aquaman's absence
- Jellyfish Conquerors - Creatures who take over Atlantis due to Pletus' poor leadership
Aquaman's first experience with Atlanteans is when his adoptive father, Arthur Curry, is taken by "true fish but with the limbs of men" while Aquaman is away. Later, Aquaman finds and enters Atlantis and is immediately captured by the oppressive regime and imprisoned with Vulko and many others. When the woman Aquaman believes is his mother dies, Aquaman frees himself easily and inspires Vulko to help overthrow the regime. King Thesily is the nephew of Aquaman's mother, the Queen. King Thesily insists that Aquaman take the throne as the legitimate heir.
Modern Age Rulers of Atlantis
- King Orin the First - Scientist and ruler of Poseidonis when the continent of Atlantis sinks
- Queen Cora - Ruler of Atlantis after her father stepped down
- Queen Fiona - Daughter of Cora
- Queen Fatima - Daughter of Fiona
- King Manu - Son of Fatima
- A line of kings descended from Manu
- King Honsu - A king who attempted to conquer the surface world
- A line of kings, starting with the bastard sons of Kraken, son of Honsu
- King Trevis - Called "the weak" because he allowed the council to reduce the royal power. His younger brother Uri died as a child.
- Queen Atlanna - Overthrown after her husband suicides, dies in prison
- Unknown Oppressive Regime - Possibly the Shalakites led by Kalandro, overthrown by Vulko after he's inspired by Aquaman
- King Thesily - Aquaman's cousin on his mother's side
- King Aquaman - Takes over at Thesily's insistence, leaves the regular ruling of the city up to Vulko
- King Thesily - Resumes the throne after Aquaman abdicates when his son dies
- Queen Mera
Post Blackest Night
With Aquaman's origin reverting to the Silver Age version, it is possible that part of the new origins of Atlantis have also reverted. As of this writing, we don't have enough information to judge.