Steve Skeates takes over the writing on Adventure 449 (Feb 77), introducing a new villain, the Marine Marauder, while Jim Aparo stays on the art.
The Marine Marauder has developed a tech that allows him to command air-breathing sea creatures, and has been using whales in his piracy, stealing rare vaccines.
Aquaman’s investigation brings him back into contact with General Morgan, but the long-awaited confrontation between the two men does not happen. In fact, they work pretty well together in this story.
The Aqualad storyline progresses as well, as he and Tula are stalked by the man from the previous issue.
The climactic battle between Aquaman and the Marine Marauder ends as it must. Aquaman has far more animals under his control than the Marauder does, but at least the battle between the creatures makes for some interesting visuals.
Although this version of the character never appears again, a female Marine Marauder shows up in the 80s, and proves more of an enduring foe.
The Martian Manhunter begins a three-part story in this issue, written by Denny O’Neil, with superb art by Mike Metzer and Terry Austin.
This was my first introduction to the character, who had made occasional appearances, mostly in Justice League of America, since his last series in House of Mystery ended in the late 60s.
J’onn is about to be sworn in as leader of New Mars for the second time, but senior stateman R’es Eda is murdered at the ceremony, and mentions “Sol” as the place the killer was from. Interpreting this to mean Earth, J’onn assumes one of his former Justice League comrades must be the killer, and determines to return and find out who was responsible.
N’or Cott tries to stop him, but J’onn commandeers a ship and heads off back to Earth.
A simple start to the tale, though certainly dramatic enough. The art was what really grabbed me as a child. And looking back on this now, I cannot help but notice that this introductory story does not utilize any of J’onn’s powers or abilities.