Aquaman emerges from the Depths and arrives at the land of the Maarzons, where he finds his enemy Black Manta in charge. Black Manta claims he has information on Mera and challenges Aquaman to a duel!
The search for his abducted wife has led Aquaman to the outskirts of the Maarzons, a warlike tribe of primitive savages. Almost immediately, Aquaman is attacked by a Maarzon tribesman. A pitched fight ensues with Aquaman readily gaining the upper hand. However, two more Maarzon warriors ambush Aquaman. Held in place by the two Maarzons, Aquaman is left open to his original attacker's spear thrust. While waiting for the fatal blow, Aquaman's mind turns back to the events that led him to this dire state of affairs. Mera's abduction. The search for the ring with the five-sided stone. Aqualad's near mortal wounding. Aquaman's reverie ends as the Maarzon tribesman lunges forward with the spear. Aquaman suddenly wrenches his arm forward, thrusting one of the Maarzons holding him into the spear's path. Aquaman quickly puts down his original attacker, then follows the last Maarzon standing back to the Maarzon colony. As Aquaman approaches the Maarzon colony, he is nearly hit by another spear. Aquaman, however, is not under attack. A group of Maarzon tribesman are warring with one another in the middle of the colony. Fighting and violence seem to be all the Maarzon know. Aquaman searches for the seat of authority for the Maarzon people, but can find no such structure. Suddenly, his attention is drawn to the strange manta shaped submersible descending on the colony. It is the signature ship of his old enemy, The Black Manta. Aquaman rushes to engage the Black Manta. The Maarzons, however, worship the Black Manta as a God, and are quick to defend him.
Engaging the Maarzon warriors in battle, Aquaman accuses Black Manta of Mera's abduction. He threatens to bring every denizen of the sea down on Maarzon unless the Black Manta gives up Mera's location. The Black Manta strikes a deal with Aquaman. He will reveal all he knows about Mera's whereabouts, but only if Aquaman can defeat him in a personal duel. They will fight in the Maarzon arena, using the traditional Maarzon spear as their only weapon. Though the Black Manta is confidant that he will be the victor, he, nonetheless, sends one of the Maarzons to his manta ship. If the Black Manta should lose, a pre-arranged escape plan will be initiated. The Black Manta keeps Aquaman on the defensive for much of their conflict. Finally, Aquaman sees an opening and takes back the offensive. The Black Manta, however, resorts to treachery to regain the advantage. Powerful beams of light are emitted from his helmet, preventing Aquaman from looking directly at his adversary. While still able to parry the Black Manta's thrusts, Aquaman can no longer take an offensive tact in the combat. Meanwhile, back in Atlantis, Narkran, the man Aquaman left to rule in his absence, is rapidly becoming a tyrant. Aquagirl seeks the advice of Aqualad on how to handle the situation. Aquagirl, however, is turned away, at the Atlantean hospital, by the doctor's tending to Aqualad. The young hero's situation is such that he is kept constantly sedated, until the doctors can determine a better course of treatment for him. In the Maarzon arena, The Black Manta finally lands a piercing blow, with his spear, into Aquaman's shoulder. In short order, The Black Manta disarms Aquaman, and prepares to deliver the killing thrust.
As the Black Manta moves in for the kill, Aquaman suddenly springs headlong into him, taking the Black Manta by surprise. Then, Aquaman rains blow... after blow... after blow... after blow, down on his hated foe. Seeing the Black Manta's obvious distress, the Maarzon onboard the manta ship throws a switch. The Black Manta fades away, followed by his vessel. Before he departs, the Black Manta taunts Aquaman, revealing that he knows nothing at all about Mera's kidnapping. Then he orders his Maarzon followers to attack and finish off the wounded Aquaman. Aquaman furiously fights free of the Maarzon tribe. Once he's gained a bit of space between himself and his attackers, Aquaman swims rapidly in a tight circle around them, creating a whirlpool. The Maarzon warriors are scattered, as Aquaman rides the whirlpool, higher and higher, to freedom. Suffering terribly from his injury, and distraught over hitting another dead end in his search for Mera, Aquaman bellows his rage and frustration into the ocean depths. This is not the end.