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Aquaman 18
"The Wedding of Aquaman!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND Nov.-Dec. 1964; DC Comics; George Kashdan, editor; featuring "The Wedding of Aquaman!" Script I think is still by Jack Miller, art by Nick Cardy. The cover features the happy event as Aquaman and Mera stand up before an Atlantean minister to take their vows, and Aqualad stands by as best man (best boy?) with the wedding guests consisting of the Sea King's fellow JLA members Superman, Batman (plus Robin off in a corner), Wonder Woman, Flash, Hawkman, Martian Manhunter and Green Arrow. (All except Superman, WW and MM are wearing round bubble air-helmets.)

My previous review featured the first meeting of Aquaman and Mera and I figured I might as well cover their wedding as well. The splash page carries the title "The Wife of Aquaman!"-- but will Mera be that wife? Aquaman is confronted with a crowd of all of the eligible females of undersea Atlantis-- pretty and homely ones, tall and short, thin and plump-- and directed by an Atlantean official, "CHOOSE, AQUAMAN! Choose the one who will be your queen!" A bemused Sea King can only stammer, "But-- but, I don't want to marry ANY ONE of them!" Aquaman and Aqualad are summoned to the undersea city to learn the shocking news that the former king, Juvor, is dead, and the even more shocking news that the man elected by the people to succeed him is Aquaman. The so-called Sea King doesn't really want to make his position formal, but he is warned that he is the only candidate everyone can agree on, and if he refuses, the result may be Atlantean civil war. When he protests that he is needed in the outside world, the Atlantean officials tell him that he can still continue his patrols of the sea, but he must come to the aid of his mother's native city. (Quite a change of attitude for the Atlanteans, considering that Aquaman's mother was originally exiled from the city.) After being crowned, Aquaman is even more bemused to learn of another requirement of the kingship; he must immediately choose a bride to become his queen from among the women of Atlantis. He refuses to make an immediate choice, and swims off on his maritime patrol, with Aqualad, to gain time for thought. But to Aqualad he admits that he has no choice, in order to keep the peace in Atlantis, but to marry an Atlantean.

On the surface, Aquaman and Aqualad encounter their friend Mera, queen of an "other-dimensional water world", swimming desperately away from a man riding a sea monster-- and he conjures up another monster to attack Aquaman. Aquaman directs eels to form a chain and execute a crack-the-whip maneuver that flings him through the air and over the new monster to Mera's side.... then, as both monsters converge on our hero, he pulls Mera out of the way just in time and the two monsters crash into each other, knocking one another out. But then, Aquaman notes that Mera has fallen unconscious, and, deeply concerned, he takes her to his undersea cave headquarters for care. He and Aqualad conclude that Mera has just fainted, but as Aquaman gazes at her unconscious form, Aqualad asks, "You're in LOVE with Mera, aren't you?" "Yes, Aqualad...I guess I've ALWAYS been in love with her, but I never realized it till now!" But the realization comes too late, for now he must pick a wife from among the girls of Atlantis. As Mera awakens, she murmurs how she knew Aquaman would save her, and then explains how she came to be under attack in Aquaman's world. Xebel, the scientist who created the dimensional-warp device between Mera's world and ours, warned her that the device was about to burn out for good, blocking all access between dimensions and separating Mera from Aquaman for many years until a new device could be built. Unable to bear the thought of not seeing Aquaman until she is an old woman, Mera resolved to abdicate her throne and pass through the warp one last time to remain with Aquaman forever. But as she did so, she was pursued by Oceanus, one of her extra-dimensional subjects who proclaimed his own love for her and proposed that they combine their water powers to rule this world. When Mera spurned him, Oceanus used a ray on her, that had been designed for use against criminals in her world, that removed her own water powers forever. "But all will be well now, Aquaman-- as long as we're together!" "Suffering sardines! How can Aquaman tell Mera, now, that he has to marry an ATLANTEAN GIRL?"

In Part 2 of "The Wife of Aquaman," Mera senses that something is wrong,and Aquaman confesses the dilemma that will prevent him from spending his life with her. She doesn't take it well; "WHAT? You tell me this after I gave up my people, my kingdom-- everything-- to be with you? I never want to see you again--- I--I HATE you!" Aqualad urges Aquaman to follow her, but he demurs; "I haven't the right!" "Swimming aimlessly," a despondent Mera encounters Oceanus again, with one of his tentacled water monsters that seizes her. But when Mera despairingly says she doesn't care if Oceanus kills her, he dissolves the water-creature and offers her his love again, this time with a more positive response; "Maybe you aren't as bad as I thought! I was wrong about Aquaman-- maybe I was wrong about YOU, too!" Not only will he marry Mera, Oceanus promises, but he will make her queen of a new undersea kingdom he has found. Leaving Mera temporarily, Oceanus swims to Atlantis-- for it is the kingdom he has discovered-- and demands of the populace that they crown him king. The Atlanteans demur, for they already have a king, Aquaman-- but Oceanus creates a horde of small but powerful torpedo-shaped warriors out of the seawater. Oceanus' warriors overwhelm the Atlanteans, and they start to think King Oceanus isn't such a bad idea, especially since King Aquaman isn't anywhere in sight to protect them. Where is he? Ostensibly patrolling, but actually mooning hopelessly over Mera... until a signal fish warns him of trouble in Atlantis. Returning to the undersea city, Aquaman and Aqualad discover Oceanus' horde of torpedo warriors and do battle with them, using their great swimming speed to evade the torpedo men and send them hurling into each other. Some Atlanteans are heartened to join the fight, but then Aquaman and Aqualad are caught and trapped in tight bands formed out of water. And the people creating them are Oceanus and Mera, whom he has brought back to Atlantis to reign with him as his queen.

In Chapter 3, with Aquaman and Aqualad helplessly bound, Oceanus orders, "To insure a peaceful reign, my first command will be to order-- your ROYAL EXECUTION!" When the Atlantean prime minister urges Mera to intervene and save Aquaman, she replies, "Why should I help the man who made a fool of me? I-- I don't care what happens to either of them!" This pleases Oceanus; "Now I'm convinced it's really ME you love, my dear!" As the bonds tighten to crush our heroes, Aquaman refuses to blame Mera; "It's really ME who made her so cold and callous!" But then Mera has another idea for "a suitable revenge for what I have suffered at Aquaman's hands"; rather than a quick death, she wants to humiliate Aquaman and Aqualad by making them lowly servants at her beck and call. Oceanus consents, and so, "in the dismal days that follow", our heroes are forced to mop floors and serve Atlantis' new monarchs their meals. But when will Mera actually marry Oceanus? As soon as "a suitable temple, such as the one we had in our own world"-- with giant statues of Oceanus and Mera-- can be built. All of Atlantis is turned into a slave labor camp to build the temple and statues. But with his new project in mind, Oceanus' attention is distracted from Aquaman, and he develops an escape plan. The Sea King summons a pair of swordfish to saw off his slave chains and then has a troop of octopi topple the nearly completed giant statue of Oceanus, distracting the water-creature guards. Reaching Oceanus' sleeping chamber, Aquaman and Aqualad descend upon the tyrant, only to discover a "water-image" in his bed. The real Oceanus has escaped, and now, with one of his creatures, he will put an end to Aquaman and Aqualad once and for all. But as Mera arrives on the scene, she unexpectedly seizes from Oceanus the weapon that removes his water powers. "M-MERA! What does this mean?" "It means that I still love Aquaman-- and always will-- no matter what he's done to hurt me!" Mera and Oceanus cut a deal, allowing Oceanus to escape in return for dissolving his water-creature and sparing the lives of Aquaman and Aqualad. Then, after the law that King Aquaman of Atlantis must marry a girl of Atlantis is explained, Mera sadly accepts the situation and prepares to leave; but Aqualad has an idea; Mera's saving Atlantis from the tyrant Oceanus certainly qualifies her to become "an honorary Atlantean!" Aquaman uses his royal prerogative to put this suggestion in effect; "And now-- NOW I can ask you to marry me!" "My-- my dreams have come true!" Asked who should be invited to the wedding, Mera replies, "EVERYBODY! I want EVERYONE to share my happiness!" And so, shortly, the nuptials take place with, in addition to the populace of Atlantis, "the most sensational guests of all time," as the JLA members witness their compatriot's wedding day. "They make a great couple, (J'onn) J'onzz!", one of the eminent guests declares, and "They sure do, Superman!" the Martian Manhunter replies.