Atlanna was a scientist in Atlantis who the King of Atlantis Trevis the Weak pursued and eventually abducted and dragged back to the palace. Trevis wanted an heir, but Atlanna wanted none of it and eventually escaped to the surface where she was found on a beach by ex-navy man turned lighthouse keeper Thomas Curry. Knowing nothing of the surface world Atlanna played to Thomas' ideas that she was a shipwreck survivor with amnesia. While Tom cared for her and taught her about the world Atlanna gradually fell in love with him. In time the two were married and had a son they named Arthur Joseph. When Arthur was almost fifteen Atlantian soldiers finally tracked down and came to retrieve Atlanna. She and Thomas managed to drive them off, but Atlanna was gravely wounded in the encounter. On her deathbed Atlanna finally told her husband and son the truth about her origins and Arthur's legacy. After the funeral Arthur dove in to the ocean and never returned. Thomas would eventually recover from the loss of both his wife and son and fall into a relationship with Mary O'Sullivan. Although they never married they had a son, Marcus. When Marcus finished high school he joined the merchant marine only to be thrown out for reprehensible behavior. This would lead him to hook up with the smuggler and pirate Black Jack. After seeing Aquaman in action defeating the rest of Black Jack's crew Marcus realized this was his long lost step brother about whom his father only spoke when heavily intoxicated. Marcus disappeared then only to return years later as the villain Ocean Master. After Arthur left his home in Maine he swam with a pod of dolphins until he found himself on the arctic coast of Alaska. There he met and got to know a girl named Kako. When Arthur was driven off by the goddess of the people he left Kako pregnant. She would in time give birth to their son Koryak.

Arthur would finally meet another aquatic human when he happened upon Lisa Morel swimming off the coast of France. She was an exile from the Atlantean nation of Idylia and her adoptive father Dr. Hugo Morel was something of an expert on Atlantis. Arthur stayed with the Morels for some time learning everything he could until with nothing more to learn from Dr. Morel he decided to finally see Atlantis for himself. Lisa who had fallen in love with Arthur went along. When they reached the capitol Shayeris they saw a young boy with purple eyes like Lisa being but into a raft to be sent to the surface to dehydrate and die. Arthur and Lisa rescued the boy who's name was Garth and the three adventured together eventually saving Poseidonis from the usurper Black Manta. Arthur was crowned king, but wanting nothing to do with ruling returned to the surface and became the hero Aquaman. Arthur Lisa and Garth had many adventures until the end of the second world war when Arthur returned to Atlantis and took the throne ending a civil war between Poseidonis and Tritonis. Lisa would die in childbirth with their son Arthur jr or AJ. Garth and the Princess of Poseidonis Tula continued adventuring as Aquaman and Aquagirl.

AJ would eventually call himself Aqualad and become a founding member of the Teen Titans.