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Aquaman 11
"The Doom From Dimension Aqua!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND Sept.-Oct. 1963; DC Comics; George Kashdan, editor; featuring Aquaman, Aqualad, and a new addition to the Aqua-cast in a book-length story, "The Doom From Dimension Aqua!" Script by Jack Miller (I think), art by Nick Cardy. The cover by Cardy depicts Aquaman, Aqualad and a curvy redhead in a green bodysuit being swept downward, pursued by two undersea thugs, as Aquaman exclaims, "This fantastic whirlpool is endless, Mera! These criminals from your water world have us at their mercy!"

On the splash page (an appropriate term for this title), Aquaman, Aqualad and Mera are treading water on the surface, and a trio of submarines are being hurled through the air at them, as Aquaman, who seems to have a penchant for stating the obvious, says, "Great waves Mera-- that pal of yours is firing SUBMARINES at us -- like missiles!" "On a routine patrol of the ocean," Aquaman and Aqualad spot an abandoned ship "running wild", its engines still going, and attempt to get it under control before it accidentally rams another ship. But a big pinkish tentacle formed out of a coral reef reaches out, grabs our heroes and pulls them away from the ship. They manage to wriggle out of the tentacle, dive back into the sea and swim back to the ship, only to find that a giant magnifiying glass has been formed and is somehow being held aloft over the ship by a solidified wave. The glass focuses sunlight on the ship, heating it up and causing a cargo of dynamite above to explode, destroying the ship. Searching for the person responsible, Aqualad spots "a-- a girl, swimming at fantastic speed! But NOBODY can swim THAT fast!" "Nobody but US! Come on!" They pursue the girl, through seas covered with burning oil from the exploded ship, though Aqualad fears she may be a "sea witch" with yet-unknown powers. And indeed, as they catch up to her, the girl forms a bubble around herself and starts to float away into the air, out of reach. But then the bubble pops, and the girl falls into Aquaman's arms, exclaiming, "I've lost all my powers! Please... please don't hurt me!" She explains that she was actually saving Aquaman and Aqualad by getting them out of the way of the runaway ship, which was about to explode anyway. Who is she, and what are her strange powers? "I am-- or was-- Queen Mera of a watery world in another dimensiion! You see, everyone in my world has the ability to WILL the water to do his bidding!" But Queen Mera was not as successful at getting her subjects to do her bidding; the "evil pretender, Leron", led an assault on the royal castle, forcing Mera to take refuge through a dimensional gate into our world. Now her water-controlling powers have mysteriously vanished. "Don't worry, Mera," Aquaman promises, "we'll take good care of you while you're a visitor in this dimension!"

But then, as on the splash scene, the trio find themselves under attack from submarines being thrown through the air. A suspicious Aqualad wonders if Mera is somehow causing this, but she insists not. Then the true culprit appears; Leron, the pretender from Mera's world, riding a waterspout and wielding the powers she has lost. He traps the three in a chunk of solidified water and demands that Aquaman and Aqualad turn over Mera to him, or else all three will be left to perish.

Part 2, "The Super Sea Sleuth!" has its own splash page on which Aquaman buzzes extra-dimensional invaders riding surfboard-like on a "flying raft" made out of water-- but how has he acquired powers like Mera's? Back to our story...Aquaman at first seems to accede to Leron's demand, leading an angry Aqualad to object and Mera to conclude, "*Sob* I can't expect you to sacrifice your own life to save me -- a mere stranger!" But then, "the very surface of the sea bubbles up with endless masses of twisting forms," as Aquaman summons hordes of his fishy subjects to attack Leron. Distracted by swarms of aggressive fish, Leron loses control of his hard-water power, enabling Aquaman, Aqualad and Mera to break free and dive for safety. Aquaman reassures Mera that he never seriously considered surrendering her, but was only "stalling for time to give my finny friends the chance to arrive in large numbers!" Meanwhile, Leron finds his own water powers overwhelmed by the vast numbers of fish, but he resolves to bring back more followers from his own dimension. Aquaman directs Aqualad and Mera to keep an eye on Leron from hiding while he pursues a plan of his own. But as Leron brings more of his henchmen through the dimensional warp, Aqualad and Mera are forced to flee, and Mera finds that in addition to losing her water powers she can no longer swim at super-speed. Aqualad gives her a hand and Aquaman rejoins them, but then all three are caught in "a big, swirling pit in the sea" created by Leron and his followers. With his strength, Aquaman manages to break through the wall of the whirlpool and pull Aqualad and Mera back into calmer waters. But then, inexplicably, he swims to confront Leron and his army. "Go back where you came from-- unless you want a sample of MY powers!" He lost his"powers" temporarily, Aquaman says, but now they are back.... and he proves it by creating a giant watery shield to deflect a giant sword created by Leron. Next, he skims through the air on a "watery magic carpet" and hurls giant hard-water balls at Leron and his men, forcing them to retreat. Aqualad and Mera are delighted but puzzled at how Aquaman has suddenly acquired powers like Mera's people. The answer is a hidden ally, Quisp (a magical water-sprite who had appeared in previous AQUAMAN issues). Aquaman had gone to fetch Quisp, whose magical abilities can match Leron's water powers. "Always happy to help...tee-hee!" Moreover, if Quisp brings back an army of his water-sprite people, they could help Mera regain her throne in her own dimension. Quisp willingly sets off to recruit more allies-- but the suspicious Leron is hiding within a watery replica of a shark he has created, and, hearing our heroes' plan, he swims in pursuit of Quisp to stop him from bringing back his people.

The splash for Chapter 3, "Prisoners of the Water World!" has our heroic trio in trouble again as they are trapped within a coral cage at Leron's mercy. He demands that Mera's loyal scientist Xebel "Give me the secret of the dimension-warp...or Mera and her friends are doomed!" but Mera urges, "Don't trust him! Leron intends to destroy us anyway!" With a sneak attack upon Quisp, Leron puts the sprite out of action and prevents him from summoning his people to Mera's aid... then leads his own followers in a new attack. Alerted by a "signal fish", Aquaman directs, "Head for the surface! We'll try to reach dry land!" But before our heroes can reach land, one of Leron's men fires a weapon which traps them in a giant unbreakable bag. Pulling them under the surface, Leron and company head for the dimensional warp to return to their own world. As the trio are transferred from the bag into a coral cage, Aquaman wonders why Leron has brought Mera back to her kingdom. The answer appears as Leron brings Xebel, the scientist who created and controls the dimension warp, and demands that Xebel give him the secret of the warp or he will destroy Mera. As Leron gives Xebel a short time to decide, Aquaman schemes escape by summoning a troop of octopi through the open dimension warp. They seize the hanging coral cage, whirl it around and smash it against a reef, cracking it open and enabling the prisoners to escape. Aquaman, Aqualad and Mera return to our world through the warp, only to be pursued again by Xebel's men, but they flee into undersea caverns to evade them. However, a subsea landslide leaves them trapped in a dead end....but then, a mighty wave sweeps away Leron's men. Is it Quisp to the rescue again? "No...it's ME!" Mera declares. "Somehow my powers have returned!" But as the pursuit continues, Mera's powers alone are not enough to stop Leron's army without the element of surprise. However, Aquaman has an idea. Directing Mera and Aqualad to hide, he leads a pair of swordfish to puncture the side of a nearby oil tanker, covering the sea in an oil slick. As Leron's men swim through the oil, they find that their hard-water powers and super-swimming abilities have vanished, as Mera's did earlier after she swam through the oil from the ship she destroyed. Aquaman has discovered their weakness. But how, Mera wonders, for her people do not have a weakness to oil-- only to lead! "Practically all refined oil contains a high percentage of lead!" Aquaman explains. Leron and his men are taken prisoner and returned to Mera's world, where Mera's loyal followers have rallied to take control. Before returning through the warp, Mera clasps Aquaman's hand and says, "AQUAMAN! You have become very dear to me! May I visit you again?" "Anytime, Mera!" As the warp closes behind her, Quisp swims up, upset that he has missed the chance to say goodbye, but Aquaman assures him, "I have a hunch that you'll be seeing her again, Quisp!" "How about YOU, reader? Would you like to see Mera again in another undersea adventure?" Apparently the answer was favorable, for Mera made further guest appearances and then, in issue #18, became the bride in "The Wedding of Aquaman!" As drawn by Nick Cardy, Mera was one of the sexiest heroines in comics, and she and Aquaman made one of comics' cuter couples, at least until DC's much later trend of "deconstruction" of heroes ended with the two of them becoming estranged and Mera going mad.