Well, Arthur’s been saying he doesn’t want to be king…

If you’ve been reading AQUAMAN, and you really SHOULD be reading Aquaman, you know that there’s been some real trouble in Denmark—er, Atlantis lately. At the end of the “Crown of Atlantis” storyline, Arthur was brutally deposed as the Atlantean king and was replaced by the despot-like Rath. Arthur was forced underground, where he came to lead the resistance against Rath’s regime. Meanwhile, one of Rath’s first actions was to order the Crown of Thorns—a massive, magical barrier of thorny overgrowth that nothing can penetrate—to cover the entire city. With the Crown in place, Atlantis’ enemies are unable to attack or harm the city in any way, but no one can leave or enter the city.

Which brings us to Mera. When Arthur fell and the Crown was raised, Mera found herself on the outside of Atlantis looking in. She eventually managed to get through the Crown by using one of the magical pendants the magisters use to get through the barrier, only the pendant had been damaged, and as a result, Mera found herself unable to breathe underwater.

She had been discovered, imprisoned and given air by a member of King Shark’s underworld crew, but as the air started running out, Mera slowly started dying. Discovered at the start of this week’s AQUAMAN #32 by Arthur’s friend and ally, Dolphin, Mera is quickly rescued by Arthur, who’s both shocked and devastated to find her in such a state.

Aquaman takes Mera to the Tower of the Widowhood, where the order of healers and magic users are able to stabilize her. But for Mera to heal, she’ll need to recuperate on the surface…which is impossible as long as the Crown of Thorns is in place. The Crown will have to come down, but Arthur doesn’t believe that the resistance movement that has secretly been plotting Rath’s downfall is yet strong enough to take down such as large target. Not without the support of the underworld gangs, which doesn’t seem to be coming.

However, he may not have much of a choice, for not only is Mera the woman he loves, she holds the key to the future of Atlantis. The Widowhood never supported Arthur as king, but they believe Rath is equally as bad. Instead, they see Atlantis under the reign of someone who could unite the warring Atlantis and Xebel, while always putting the good her of her people first. Someone whom, unlike Arthur, won’t ever find her loyalties divided between Atlantis and the surface world.

Someone like Mera.

The Widowhood hopes to crown Mera as Queen of Atlantis, but Arthur isn’t so certain. As far as he’s concerned, Mera would be better served away from all of this, free to live a simple life with him by her side. But appealing as that idea is, Mera doesn’t believe it’s for them.

For Mera to be Queen, for Mera to even survive, Arthur must face Rath and the Crown of Thorns must come down. But will he be able to do it without the help of the Undercurrent or the gangs of the Ninth Tride? How? And what’s the deal with all of Dolphin’s angry looks and spying? Is she jealous of Mera? Or is there something more sinister at play?

Don’t look to us for answers—look to your local comic shop! We’ll see you there on February 21st, when Dan Abnett and Riccardo Federici’s Aquaman continues.