Aquaman is first seen comforting a dying whale before angrily confronting its killers on a Japanese boat. He breaks off the chains holding the whales down and dives into the seas, tipping the vessel over. When he rises back up, he is joined by a large Atlantean fleet of soldiers and giant crabs, ordering his soldiers to take the ships down. Arthur himself strikes the first ship, denting its hull with a single punch and catching one of the fishermen. When the man begs for his life by saying he has a family, Arthur is outraged by the man's pleading for compassion.
But before he can do anything further to the man, Wonder Woman appears, as the Justice League had been alerted of Aquaman's attack on the fleet. Diana asks Arthur to stop his attack and reminds him of Superman's ceasefire, but Aquaman makes it clear he will not heed Superman's decree, saying, "I know what you and Superman called for! But the oceans do not answer your calls. I am the king of the sea and I will protect it."
Wonder Woman continues to try to sooth the situation over, asking that Arthur let the man go and for them to go aboard the ship and end the situation peacefully with words, all the while reaching out to Arthur. However, one of Arthur's soldiers is a little too trigger happy, and blasts Wonder Woman across her face. Aquaman harshly reprimands the soldier, telling him "It's a bad idea to piss off an Amazon!"
Aquaman is knocked unconscious from Wonder Woman's blow and is awakened by the whales he has freed, bidding him to protect them. Aquaman awakens, enraged, and snatches Wonder Woman by her ankle as she and the League battle his forces. Aquaman drags Diana under water, where they struggle before Shazam dives under and tackles Arthur, dragging him back up into the air. Shazam pleads with Arthur to surrender, but Aquaman refuses, saying the sea has more secrets.
Shazam and the rest of the heroes are shocked by the sight of a massive tsunami fast approaching, with Arthur's forces retreating. Shazam is shocked and in disbelief over what he is seeing, though Arthur taunts him, saying he knows what is the true cause of the wave. Shazam drops Arthur when the latter advises him that he will "Need both hands soon."
Arthur is not seen as the tentacles of the kraken he summoned rises from the ocean, knocking Green Lantern and Shazam out of the air while Diana watches on in horror.
Aquaman observes his kraken's attack on the Justice League when he is suddenly contacted by Batman over his secure Atlantis communication channel, shocking him, though Batman quickly informs him of Superman's approach, his pain over the loss of Metropolis, and his fury for Arthur's attack on the League. Aquaman sees Superman flying towards him and through one of the kraken's tentacles just as Batman warns him to stop. Arthur finds himself held up by his neck in the Man of Steel's grip, Clark demands Arthur to call his beast off, despite Aquaman's protests that the League attacked him first.
As Superman's eyes burn with heat vision and he gives one final warning for Arthur to stop, Batman tells him to do as Superman says. Aquaman finally relents and telepathically tells the kraken to stop its attack, the mighty beast retreating into the darkness of the sea bottom. As the League rises out of the water along with the victims of the Atlantean's attack, Superman reminds Arthur of his ceasefire with Arthur replying that even Superman's voice does not reach the ocean's floor, and goes on to say if Superman wishes to rule the surface world, though Superman is quick to interject that he only wishes to protect it.
Arthur claims that he understands Superman's pain over losing Metropolis, or "His kingdom", but once again reiterates that he can't have Atlantis. Completely ignoring Batman's protests, Arthur tells Superman that "Whether you see it or not, your reign is coming." Just then Wonder Woman flies over, telling Superman to turn his communicator on. When Superman asks what is happening, Wonder Woman reveals that Atlantean armies are rising all over the world in various countries, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Brazil and Dubai.
When Superman demands answers from Aquaman, the King of the Seas replies, "I'm not some self-appointed leader of an insignificant country who can be bullied into submission. Every port. Every ship. Everything that flies over the oceans does so with my blessing. Your world would grind to a halt if I willed it. Every land mass borders the sea. Your entire world is inside mine."
With that, Aquaman declares, "Consider this a show of strength. Now. Get the hell out of my ocean."
Batman calls Aquaman an idiot for this, saying that Superman will not respond to ultimatums. Indeed, the Man of Steel decides to show Aquaman his and the League's strength by lifting Atlantis out of the sea and placing it in the Sahara. With no other choice, Aquaman agrees to speak to Superman but the Man of Steel has had enough of words and sends Wonder Woman as his diplomat.
The King and Princess meet at the Shore of Algeria, with Wonder Woman telling Arthur that he will call his forces back and bring any grievance he has with the surface world to the League. Aquaman asks Diana if she would let Superman tell Themyscira to not defend its borders. Wonder Woman responds that Superman would not do that.
Aquaman expresses his disbelief over Superman's current actions, having believed he wasn't capable of it. He advises Diana to steer Clark from his current course, but Diana refuses, believing that Superman has the planned a course of action best for the world. Aquaman warns Wonder Woman that the League's actions have scared a lot of people, "Ordinary people who will not want gods and aliens telling them what they can and can't do."
Aquaman asks Wonder Woman to pass a message to Superman: While Aquaman has ruled peacefully for many years, if Superman should decide to take command, he should seek his counsel. He then asks Wonder Woman to tell Superman he is sorry about Lois. Aquaman then departs back to the seas while Wonder Woman returns to Superman.
Aquaman returns in Chapter Eighteen, having been summoned by Batman to attend a meeting with several other heroes for a plan of attack against Superman's Regime. This was Arthur's final appearance in the original series.
Arthur reappears after an incredibly lengthy absence, paying his respects to the fallen Green Arrow before departing.