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The Manta-Ray Means Murder!

Aquaman and Mera return to the Aquacave to find the octopus, Topo, attacking their son, Arthur, Jr. The octopus' actions turn out to be innocent, as it was unaware that it was placing Arthur, Jr. in peril. Aquaman receives a communique from Robin, who has been, unsuccessfully, searching for Aqualad, on Aquaman's behalf. Aqualad is unaware that Aquaman has been deposed as KIng of Atlantis, or that the domed city is no longer a safe place for him to go. Aquaman is desperate to get a warning, to his former partner, to stay away from Atlantis. Aqualad and Aquagirl are onboard a riverboat, in the Mississippi Delta, called the "Club Mark Twain". When Aqualad busts one of the cigarette girls for smuggling diamonds, he is taken, at gunpoint, into the boat's galley. Aqualad endures a serious beating while putting up resistance to the gunmen. At last they get the better of him. Aqualad awakes to find himself in the presence of the Black Manta. Aquagirl is caught eavesdropping, outside the galley door. Unaware that she, too, is an Atlantean, the Black Manta has her bound in anchor chains, and thrown over board, while forcing Aqualad to watch.

Aquaman uses his telepathic powers to try to zero in on Aqualad's location. Unbeknownst to the former monarch of Atlantis, the current Atlantean King, Karshon, has the Aquacave under surveillance. With Aquaman away, Karshon prepares to initiate a sinister scheme regarding Mera and Arthur, Jr. Aquaman locates Aquagirl, on the bottom of the Mississippi Delta, and frees her from the anchor chains. Meanwhile, Aqualad, in chains, has been placed in a large salt water tank, filled with manta rays and electric eels. Aquaman boards the riverboat in dramatic fashion, carried aloft on the spray of a sperm whale. Aquagirl climbs aboard on a ladder made of eels. They fight their way through the Black Manta's crew, until Aquaman decides to take them all out in one feel swoop by hurling Portuguese Man-Of-Wars on them. Alerted to the commotion, the Black Manta steps outside his cabin, just in time to take a sucker punch to the face. While Aquaman and the Black Manta battle, Aquagirl liberates Aqualad. With an able assist from his former partner, Aquaman defeats the Black Manta. Almost out on his feet, the Black Manta manages to activate an escape hatch, and flees to his manta-ship. Aquaman telepathically summons a giant squid to hold the manta-ship in place. The squid, however, is no match for the ship's hyper drive, and the Black Manta escapes. Searching the riverboat, Aquaman discovers a cache of laser rifles, outfitted for underwater use. They are the same weapons being used to arm the Atlantean military. It becomes apparent that the Black Manta has been gunrunning to Atlantis.

MInd Over Murder

Believing the Creeper is responsible for the murder of one physical therapist, at the Humboldt Institute, and assaulting another, a quartet of Gotham's finest hold the vigilante at gunpoint. Setting the rapidly reviving Dr. Joanne Russell down, the Creeper fights his way to freedom, through the four police officers, as well as some of the hospital staff. The Creeper resumes his Jack Ryder identity, and returns to the WHAM-TV studios. The station manager is furious over earlier on air allegations, made by Ryder, He gives Ryder two days to come up with some proof, or else lose his job. Ryder recalls an earlier report he'd made, at the Humboldt Institute, on Vernon Maddox, a parapsychologist and telekinetic. Maddox demonstrated his telekinetic abilities by animating a mannequin, he affectionately referred to as "Manfred". It is this same mannequin that Ryder battled, as the Creeper, when it tried to kill Dr. Russell. Ryder returns to the Humboldt Institute to question Dr. Russell. He gains access to her hospital room by posing as a doctor. At that moment, Maddox, fast asleep in his bed, subconsciously sends "Manfred" out to kill Dr. Russell. Ryder reveals himself to Dr. Russell, as the Creeper. He inquires about the details of the automobile accident that left her a paraplegic. Russell reveals that she lost control of her car when her hand, of it's own accord, jerked the steering wheel at an inopportune moment. The Creeper accuses Maddox of trying to kill Russell. They were competing for the same government grant. Maddox must have wanted Russell out of the running. As if on cue, "Manfred" crashes into the room. The Creeper leaps to Russell's defense, battling for her life against the "living" mannequin. At the Creeper's behest, Russell calls Maddox, waking him up. Realizing what he's done, Maddox uses his telekinesis to walk Dr. Russell over to the window ledge. It would seem that Maddox, again, intends to make Dr. Russell's murder look like a suicide.

Note: This issue contains the Hostess Superhero Ad, Superman Saves the Earth (inside front cover).

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