In an ornately decorated ballroom in the underwater city of Poseidonis, Aquaman frowned as he adjusted a clasp that held a green and gold cape around his shoulders. Beneath the embroidered garment, the hero’s customary orange and green costume could be seen. Arthur Curry was a ruggedly handsome blond man with a keen mind and a normally graceful, almost regal manner. However, on this night he was clearly a fish out of water.
“You know, as uncomfortable as this thing is, I have to wonder why our friends Superman and Batman put up with capes while in costume,” he said in a whisper.
A beautiful red-haired woman in an elegant, voluminous green gown smiled affectionately up at him and playfully slapped at his hand. “Honestly, Arthur, for a former ruler of Atlantis, you do hate pageantry,” said Mera. “Just leave the cape alone. You can stand it for one night.”
Aquaman slipped one arm around his wife’s shoulders and said, “Remember, you were born royalty in Xebel. I grew up as a simple but proud lighthouse keeper’s son! For us, fancy dining meant a trip into town to the Town Grill.”
Mera pursed her red lips in amusement and said, “I think you protest too much. I know you can carry off the royal touch when you have to. After all, inspiring people is still a part of what you do, both here in Poseidonis and on the surface in our New Venice home. A champion can be as noble as a monarch. This evening’s celebration is largely due to your victory over Felix Faust and his magical legions.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice League of America: Games, Chapter 5: Invasion of the Dead.]
Aquaman nodded and said, “I’d rather be trading punches with the Fisherman than listening to speeches, even on such a happy occasion.”
As a stern-looking man in red robes lifted a conch shell to his mouth and announced them in a stentorian manner, the Justice Leaguer and his beloved wife entered the dining hall as a crowd of smiling or curious faces gazed at them.
Mera inhaled sharply and said, “Oh, my! Mara looks lovely tonight!” She nodded toward a beautiful girl whose cascading platinum blonde hair and stunning figure made her stand out from the rest even before she waved the couple over with an eager gesture. Dolphin, as the heroine was called on the surface, wore a light blue gown with matching heels.
Aquaman nodded approvingly and said, “She does, at that!”
“Well, I think Dolphin rather loves being the Lady Mara, daughter of Arion, High Mage of Atlantis!” said Mera. “She enjoys being treated like royalty!”
Aquaman grinned and said, “She deserves all the attention she gets. She spent so long as a loner without any knowledge of her true parentage. (*) She’s just thrilled to have a father of any kind. I’m just sorry Arion himself is away.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Forgotten Heroes: No Place Like Home, Chapter 2: Lost Daughter of Atlantis.]
Dolphin smiled warmly as Mera kissed her cheek and Aquaman pulled out a chair for his wife.
“Arthur, Mera, isn’t it wonderful to see everyone getting along together so well?” said the Lady Mara. “I’m just sorry it took so much tragedy to bring them together.”
Aquaman nodded as he looked toward the head of the table, where his old friend, the bald and portly King Vulko, was sitting next to a ravishing woman and an earnest-looking man. Like many of the guests assembled in the ballroom, the man and woman had fishtails where others possessed normal legs. “Felix Faust and his undead army became just the common enemy the people of Poseidonis and Tritonis needed to make them put aside their recent strife and remember their common heritage and past alliance,” he said.
“This ceremonial dinner to cement the new alliance may be the start of better times for all of Atlantis,” said Mera. “Vulko certainly looks pleased with the attention Lenora Lemaris is giving him.”
“Old Vulko always did like the ladies,” said Aquaman. “Lenora has her late sister Lori’s good looks, too. Plus, Vulko always did prefer blondes.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: The strawberry-blonde-haired Lenora Lemaris, younger sister of Lori Lemaris, first appeared in “The Strange Bodies of Supergirl,” Action Comics #284 (January, 1962).]
Dolphin leaned forward and said, “The men next to Lenora are handsome as well. Who are they, again?”
“The somber-looking man is Ronal, the widower of Lenora’s sister, Lori,” explained Aquaman. “The younger blond man is Jerro. All three of them are part of the new High Council that has ruled Tritonis since Iquila and his family fell at the hands of the invaders.”
As King Vulko rose to make a toast, the crowd grew silent, and the scholar-turned-ruler began to speak. “Friends, this is more than a mere state dinner,” he began. “This is a family reunion. For are we not all family? We all are the descendants of the original Atlanteans, whose majestic empire once spanned the surface world. When tragedy brought that fabled empire to ruin beneath the crushing waves, our ancestors adapted in different ways. Those who settled our own Poseidonis beneath its dome became water-breathers through a chemical formula, while the noble founders of Tritonis followed suit, but in a manner that led them to evolve and thrive as mer-folk. Our differences have never been as important as our common heritage and the fact that, through our peoples, the glories of lost Atlantis live on!”
The golden beauty called Lenora smiled appreciatively and said, “Vulko honors us with his eloquence and his scholarship. I may only add that the democratic Council of Tritonis will work to make certain we never forget the bonds of unity that rightly bind us to our relations in Poseidonis. It is only fitting that a symbol of our unity be unveiled here tonight by a heroine who embodies the best of our two cities and the surface world above! I give you Ulla Påske, whom the Danish honor as their Mermaid!”
Applause rang out as a girl with long blonde hair made her way over to a tarp that covered a looming object. She was escorted by a handsome young man whose purple eyes made him unique among the odd assembly. He was Garth, who as Aqualad was the youthful partner of Aquaman and Ulla’s fiancé.
Smiling demurely, Ulla said, “As you know, I am the child of a native of Poseidonis and one of Tritonis. It is with love and respect for both my parents that I unveil the statue that artisans from both cities have created of the man who was the last ruler of a united Atlantis!”
The petite girl removed the tarp to reveal the statue of a proud man with the garments of a warrior and the bearded erudition of a scholar.
The cry echoed as the assembly cheered the unveiling of the statue of the ancient ruler, whose actions set in motion the eventual founding of the two cities.
“So that’s what my grandfather looked like,” said Aquaman. “The old paintings don’t do him justice. My Aunt Atlena told me a lot about him, but her descriptions can be a bit poetic.”
The mature but far from elderly hero could claim such close descent from the ancient king, because his late mother Atlanna and her living sister Atlena had each survived far past their original eras through different but remarkable circumstances.
“I am so sorry the poor woman couldn’t join us,” said Mera. “She was so excited about the plans to honor her father. For a woman who spent the years since 900 B.C. trapped unaging in an other-dimensional limbo, she carries family pride like a flag!”
“I hope it was just that excitement that made her ill and not something more serious,” said Aquaman. “I really should have stayed with her in spite of her protests that I attend this ceremony.”
“Atlena has the iron will of a true noblewoman,” said Mera. “She insisted on staying alone with her maids. She’ll be fine.”
Aquaman said nothing as his thoughts traveled to the lovely woman who was all the family he had except for his wife Mera and daughter Nautica. He pushed aside thoughts of his villainous half-brother Orm Marius, the presumably deceased Ocean Master, as he mourned once more for his late parents and his son, Arthur Junior.
I have to tell myself my mother Atlanna died when I was a child, he thought. It does me no good to recall the way she miraculously returned from a type of suspended animation a few years ago and tried to kill me before truly dying herself. (*) For all intents and purposes, I’m going to honor her memory by thinking of her as the caring woman who loved me before dying when I was a boy. She brought joy to my lonely father Tom, and she cherished us both. Atlena reminds me so much of her. I hate to think of gaining an aunt, only to lose her as well!
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Beyond the Poseidon Adventure,” Action Comics #518 (April, 1981), “Family Plot,” Action Comics #519 (May, 1981), and “The End,” Action Comics #520 (June, 1981).]
Before Aquaman could shake off his brooding thoughts, a cry rang out as a frantic figure pushed past the guards and raced into the room, followed by two concerned attendants.
“We could not stop her!” whined the two female maids as they gestured toward the manic woman who had preceded them.
It was Atlena. Her long blonde hair was wild and fell about her face. She was nearly frantic with wild-eyed emotion as she hurled herself at Aquaman, and he caught her trembling form in his arms.
“Atlena, what is it?” he asked.
She stared up at him for a moment and then cried, “A vision! I had a vision! It was nearly as frightening and powerful as the one I had eons ago when I foresaw the sinking of Atlantis! I was the priestess of the Delphic Oracle, but no one would believe me! Father sent out exploratory parties as a precaution, but it was too late!”
Aquaman tried to calm his aunt as he gently helped her into a chair. “Shh… It’s OK,” he said in reassuring tones. “What’s wrong? Tell me what you saw. I’ll believe you, and I’ll deal with any crisis. It’s what I do.”
As Aquaman, Aqualad, Mera, Dolphin, and the others drew closer to the troubled woman, Atlena’s voice dropped to a whisper as she announced, “They’re coming! I can sense it! The Seekers are alive, and they want to destroy us all!”