by Martin Maenza
The sea king was down in the pool swimming a rigorous set of laps when someone joined him in the room. The newcomer watched Aquaman execute a kick-turn at the far end of the pool before returning. Another moment later, the blond man hoisted himself out of the pool; the water rushed off his body and onto the tiled deck.
Aquaman nodded to acknowledge the newcomer, who was dressed in a red costume with yellow trim and a blue cape. A yellow circle with a T in the center sat squarely on the costume’s chest. “Thank you for coming, Tornado,” the hero said to the crimson-faced android.
“Of course,” Red Tornado said in a matter-of-fact way. “You called and asked if I could relieve you a few hours early. I was able, so here I am.”
Aquaman looked at his teammate. The android’s dark and empty eye sockets were focused on him; sophisticated sensors and circuits processed the data transmitted to them. “Good,” he said eventually. “I was working on something on a situation tonight while watching the monitors, and I think I finally have something to go on.”
“The strange weather patterns?” the android asked.
Aquaman raised his eyebrow. “You know about them?”
“I saw the data,” Tornado replied, “when I transported up. When you were not at the monitors, I checked them to ensure all was well. At that time, I noticed what you were working on.” The android saw the sea king’s slightly concerned look. “I hope you do not mind.”
Aquaman shook his head. “No, that’s OK. As I said, I believe I’ve figured out a pattern to it and have a suspicion to who’s behind it. It’s just a matter of determining the next target.”
“And you have determined that?”
Aquaman started to smile. “Tornado, I believe I have.”
The water level continued to rise at Peachtree Center; it was already up to the fourth-floor windows with no sign of stopping. And it was the same all over downtown Atlanta. The southern capital city was in the midst of an attack not seen there since the days of Sherman’s March to the Sea during the Civil War. At that time, the city burned to the ground and could actually have used the incredible rain that fell on this day to put out the flames.
Aquaman materialized, thanks to the JLA’s transporter system, atop one of the city’s taller buildings and frowned. The storm that was raining down on the city was so extreme that the streets were flooded to great levels, forcing many to abandon their vehicles and try to swim to safety in the raging currents.
Not everyone was that successful.
Aquaman dived into the dark water as the rain continued to fall at a heavy, steady pace. First, the victims, he thought as he swam down to where some of the cars were. It reminded him of a sunken shipyard, yet these were not vehicles that had been abandoned for decades. This sudden storm was not even an hour old.
Aquaman’s eyes easily adjusted to the darkness of the depths. He soon noticed someone trapped in a red pickup truck. Moving quickly to the vehicle, he saw the panicked look upon its occupant’s face. Aquaman grabbed the door by the handle, and with one mighty pull, he ripped the door from its hinges.
The man in the truck was shocked as the water rushed in to displace the air; he was even more shocked when a green-gloved hand firmly grabbed him and pulled him from the truck. Moments later, the man tasted fresh air as Aquaman pulled him to the surface. The man coughed and croaked out, “Thanks.”
“Get someplace safe,” Aquaman commanded. He glanced up to the skyline and saw an outline of a figure moving along the edges. “I have to take care of this situation at the source!”
Aquaman moved through the water at a rapid pace, all the while tracking the figure who raced across rooftops and walls. A small rowboat full of folks who were trying to navigate the horrid flood shouted out to the hero.
“Look! It’s Aquaman!”
“Thank heavens! We’re saved!”
The sea king saw the people were doing all right on their own. He had a more pressing matter to attend to. He saw the figure he was tracking leap down to a stone wall about eight feet above the water’s level. A bolt of lightning lit up the sky just then, allowing the hero to make out clearly who the man was. Aquaman’s suspicions were confirmed upon seeing a dark-haired man in a green costume with a high collar and a yellow-and-black-striped belt.
“The Weather Wizard!” Aquaman growled.
It had been barely six months prior since the last time the two men faced one another. The Weather Wizard was part of the Flash’s Rogues Gallery and usually kept his capers confined to Central City. However, it was while stealing an experimental vibration controlling device from a NATO cargo jet that the costumed criminal crossed paths with Aquaman. The two battled, but in the end the sea king was victorious. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Watery War of the Weather Wizard,” Adventure Comics #450 (March-April, 1977).]
Aquaman planned to be victorious again.
The Weather Wizard noticed the hero barring down upon him. “Aquaman? What are you doing here?”
“Putting a stop to your evil plans!”
“Really?” the Wizard sneered. “Well, I’ve got a shock for you!” He waved his special wand-like device, one that could easily manipulate weather conditions, and summoned forth a chain of lightning from the heavens.
The blistering bolts struck the water around the hero, and the fluid conducted the current easily. Aquaman screamed out in pain as the lightning coursed through his body. “Aaa-aaa-aah!” With that, the hero sank down below the water’s surface.
“See?” the Wizard chuckled. “I told you it would be shocking! Ha-ha-ha!” The villain started off along the wall. The water on each side continued to flow and churn as the floodwaters continued to rise. “Now that my business here is done, it’s time to go collect my reward!”
“Oh, really?” a voice called. “And what would that be?”
Weather Wizard turned just as Aquaman sprang forth from the water. “You’re supposed to be sleeping with the fishes, water-boy!” the villain growled.
“It takes more than a little electricity to take me out!” Aquaman replied, landing on the wall. “You might as well give up! I’ve figured out your little scheme.”
“Oh, have you now?” the Weather Wizard asked. “I doubt it!”
“Batman doesn’t have the market cornered on detective work,” Aquaman said. “Once I matched the unexplained floods to a series of baseball games, all I had to do was figure out where you’d strike next. First the Metros, a play on the word meteorological. Then Denver and its team the Storm. The Houston game was against the Mariners. And now today’s game with Atlanta against the Milwaukee Brewers. All the games had weather or water themes to them. Once I added in Central City, home-town of your hated foe, the five points roughly mapped out into a W pattern. Put it all together, and it pointed to you, Weather Wizard!”
“Bravo!” the villain clapped. “Not bad for someone waterlogged in the head! Now, for your reward!” He waved his weather wand.
Suddenly, the nearby floodwaters began to swirl around and then rose into the air into a deadly waterspout. Aquaman braced himself as the water came crashing down upon the spot he was standing.
“Ha-ha!” the Weather Wizard laughed. “I can keep this up all day as long as I have my wand!”
Aquaman burst out of the spinning spiral. “Then I’ll put an end to this now!” Moving swiftly through the air, he slammed into the costumed villain and knocked him off the wall. Both men splashed into the floodwaters.
The Weather Wizard struggled to try to get to the surface. Aquaman smiled. Things were in his element, now. He grabbed for the villain’s hand and squeezed the man’s wrist hard. The weather wand came loose from the Wizard’s grasp. Aquaman pushed the villain toward the surface while he snatched the stick.
Aquaman then pulled himself onto the wall and hoisted the drenched villain up as well. “OK, Wizard, it’s over!” the hero said. He gave the device a wave, and the storm started to subside. Weather Wizard was still catching his breath when Aquaman hoisted him into the air with his free hand. “Now, I figured out the pattern of your little rainmaking, but I want to know why you did it!”
Weather Wizard coughed and spat. “Why should I tell you, fish-man?”
Aquaman glared at him. “Unless you want another soaking, you’ll tell me. Now!”
Weather Wizard considered. The sea king looked rather serious about his threat. “All right, all right,” he conceded. “I’ll tell you. It was all about money.”
“Money?” Aquaman asked. “From robbing flooded cities?”
“Nothing that difficult,” the Wizard replied. “I was making money a more legit way, from placing bets in Las Vegas. You’d be amazed at all the different things you can make wagers on there! After I got out of jail, I thought maybe I’d try to convert the little cash I had into a bigger pool. I realized that in Vegas you can bet on all aspects of sporting events, even little details like whether a game gets called or not. The odds were always high on events getting rained out when the weather was supposed to be perfect, so I figured I’d put down some money and then help Mother Nature along a bit. After the first payout on opening day, I kept reinvesting the money on subsequent games. I would have made a fortune, too, if I could have kept the streak going!”
Aquaman shook his head in disbelief. He did not know what disgusted him more: that surface dwellers wasted so much of their money gambling on things in hopes to gain more, or that this criminal scum was willing to risk the lives of others to help further line his own pockets. The sea king felt anger welling up inside him. Taking the weather wand, he snapped it in half. “You’re a fool, Wizard!”
“Tell me about it,” the villain replied glumly. “Next time, I go with football.”