Now that DC's "Rebirth" relaunch is sixth months old, several of its twice-monthly titles are reaching their twelfth issue.
Since its "Rebirth" relaunch, Aquaman's title character attempted, in his position as king of Atlantis, to establish more effective foreign relations for his country. But his efforts have been thwarted by the secret organization known as N.E.M.O. and a revamped (but still very much classic) version of Black Manta.
In our latest summary of the 12-issue changes since "Rebirth" launched, Newsarama takes a look at what has happened in Aquaman and what may be coming next.
At the end of Aquaman #1, Black Manta realizes that his revenge-minded attacks on Aquaman are much too simple and small. Instead, he's gone evil on a much larger scale, and for many of the first dozen issues of Aquaman, the villain has been enthusiastically building a gigantic, world-war-type plan that Arthur didn't fully comprehend.
It started with the sinking of the U.S.S. Ponchartrain, an act of terror that appeared to be committed by Atlantean weapons. In reality, readers are shown, the attack was orchestrated by the clandestine organization known as N.E.M.O., which is short for National Enforcement of Macrocosmic Order.
N.E.M.O. has agents embedded in governments and armed forces worldwide, and they have been framing Atlantis to cover their own activities, staging attacks to make Atlantis look like an aggressor. They want to destabilize the world economy and global society, using Atlantis as a scapegoat, so they can take control of everything in secret.
And who just recently killed the chief of N.E.M.O. so he could take over the organization?
None other than Black Manta, who murdered the leader of N.E.M.O. and has forced the organization to obey his commands.
The tensions between Atlantis and the U.S. get so bad that Aquaman ends up being (willingly) incarcerated for a while. Eventually, he escapes from jail with Mera's help, but he ends up in an issue-long fist fight with Superman, who didn't like him walking out on the American government (because, you know, Supes is all about the American way).
Superman and the rest of the Justice League eventually make up with Aquaman - after he saves a few land-dwellers from an attack by Shaggy Man (also engineered by N.E.M.O.). But that doesn't stop the rest of America - particularly the folks in the White House - from debating whether or not the Atlanteans and Aquaman can be trusted.
For much of the first 12 issues, the readers knew that Black Manta and N.E.M.O. are behind the subterfuge that implicated Aquaman and Atlantis, but the characters themselves hadn't figured it out.
In the midst of the trouble, Aquaman is also moving forward the promised wedding bells revealed in DC Universe: Rebirth #1. Mera and Arthur intend to be married.
But first, it looks like Mera might have to prove to snobby Atlanteans whether she's worthy of becoming the queen. She is summoned by an organization called the Widowhood, who look after Atlantean spiritual wellness. Ostensibly, they're going to try to train her or somehow make sure she's a queenly specimen, which doesn't sit well with her at all.
But the sisters of the Widowhood claim that they don't intend to test or train her. They instead share a vision with Mera - one gleaned from the "whispers" of the "future-tides," predicting the death of Arthur and the fall of Atlantis under the leadership of a Xebelian "Fatal Queen." Even worse, the prophecy says that during the queen's reign, "the Deluge" will "sweep" the entire world away.
Mera is frightened by the vision (which is also mentally revealed to her), but she also wonders if it's just part of the old myth she's heard before. It turns out that the Deluge "end of times" story is commonly known in Atlantis. (In fact, readers met a terrorist organization called "The Deluge" in the "Rebirth" issue of Aquaman, and we later found out that they named themselves after the ages-old myth.)
Still, the Reverend Mother of the Widowhood takes the vision seriously. "The king will fall," she says. "His queen, in her grief, will become the Fatal Queen. And she will end the world. The Widowhood opposes your match with Arthur because we are afraid."
The "seeing" sister yells a bit more gibberish: "Heed the howls of the house of light, for there the name of the enemy is hid!" And sure enough, after Mera goes to the lighthouse she shares with Aquaman (at Amnesty Bay, Mass.), and hears the howls from Salty (their Aqua-dog), she finds a letter that ends up revealing that N.E.M.O. is the secret organization behind the subterfuge.
A few land-dwelling friends have helped out Arthur and Mera - including Lt. Joanna Stubbs of the Royal Navy, who knows about N.E.M.O. because of her rotten father, and Agent Reagan Irving of the FBI, who's shares data that might exonerate Atlantis in the case of the Pontchartrain wreck.
Aquaman and his cohorts are trying to put together enough evidence to present to the president of the U.S. (outgoing President Barack Obama, who apparently won the office even in the DCU).
But before they can act, N.E.M.O.’s fake Atlantean army attacks the United States, and President Obama officially declares war on Atlantis. Never mind that the Atlanteans are only trying to stop the war - that it's the fake N.E.M.O. army that's attacking U.S. seaports.
As of the end of Aquaman #12, the United State of America and Atlantis are at war.
But readers shouldn't worry too much - DC is teasing that the wedding between Mera and Aquaman will likely happen in 2017, according to the new DC Entertainment promotional publication Direct Currents. "Save the date," the issue says. And Aquaman appears to be getting a presidential pardon from Barack Obama before his second term ends, so it looks like, even though the two countries are embroiled in war, there's a peace in their near future.
Look back at our other summations of "Rebirth" events on top DC characters: Batman & Detective Comics, Superman & Action Comics, Green Arrow, Flash, Wonder Woman, and Hal Jordan & The Green Lantern Corps.