[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Dan Abnett
Art: Lan Medina & Vicente Cifuentes
Colors: Gabe Eltaeb
Letters: Steve Wands
Like it says in the comic, “If you’re going to read Justice League #10, do that first, before jumping in here.” Or, something like that…I’ll wait….
Great, you’re back! This issue and Justice League #10 function as preliminary salvos in the “Drowned Earth” crossover event. So, Arthur has been abducted by alien aquatic deities and this issue opens as these, clearly dangerous gods attack Earth. Mera, Queen of Atlantis, has to face the immediate threat to her domain. These gods are not just invading, they are flooding the Earth with a liquid that is not water and not only seems poisonous, but it contains transmutative properties which turn all it touches into an alien sea creature.
Mera saves those she can and then has them all fall back to safety as she confers with her advisers, Vulko and the Widowhood. She realizes she is able to use her water powers to hold back the liquid even if it’s for a limited time. She makes contact with Batman and learns what’s happened to Arthur. Batman beseeches Mera to let go for now and focus on the threat and not the symptom of invasion. He tries to explain that her powers may be the Earth’s only hope against these invaders.
The aliens make a direct hit on Atlantis and Mera loses concentration for a moment and she loses those closest to her to the poison liquid. Realizing she now has no choice, she forms a protective barrier around herself and proceeds to enlist Orm, the Ocean Master as an ally in this fight!
Somewhat, surprisingly, the best thing about this issue is that it focuses on Mera and not Aquaman. At times, Aquaman’s character wavers, but Mera is always shown as his “better half.” No matter the situation, Mera never seems to deal with the inner conflict that Aquaman does. This makes it much easier for her to focus on her role.
The interaction between Batman and Mera is enjoyable as it depicts Batman’s respect for Mera and acknowledges her place in the hierarchy of DC characters. While unknown to the public at large (that will soon change with the Aquaman feature film), it’s clear that Batman respects Mera as much as he respects Wonder Woman.
This issue opens with a scene on Atlantis as a mother encourages her child to play in the ocean with his father, the boy is still uncomfortable with the raising of Atlantis (see Dark Nights: Metal). Mera, eventually, has to make a promise to this boy that she will save his father. It is a scene that one would normally associate with Superman, but it works here because it continues to elevate Mera’s status in the DC Universe.
Finally, when Mera enlists Orm, it recalls the character chemistry from the recent Mera mini-series. While spotlighting the titular character, this mini-series also provided a broader depiction of Orm, the Ocean Master. The mini-series and this issue both successfully play off the notion that Orm is not entirely bad and that there is a very complex relationship between himself, Mera and Aquaman.
Since the new direction in issue #25, Aquaman has felt like a bit of an outsider in his own title as his character is being portrayed more in line with his depiction in the Justice League film and upcoming solo film. There’s been a break from the character as portrayed in the first 24 issues. However, Mera has benefited greatly from this change of direction. It begs the question, do we need this version of Aquaman?
If you are a fan of Mera, then this is an issue you can’t miss. Not only does it focus on her character and highlight her attributes and status, it connects to her recent self-titled mini-series. The prospect of the “Drowned Earth” event is harrowing, but Mera seems capable and willing to thrown in with the Justice League to make a go against the aliens.