Review: Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth #1

Drowned Earth - DC Comics News

[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]

Writer: James Tynion IV

Artist: Howard Porter

Colors: Hi-Fi

Letters: Tom Napolitano

 

Summary

The planet has been invaded by aliens known as the Ocean Lords and Aquaman has been captured by one them. The Ocean Lords are flooding Earth with a special water that turns anybody that touches it into an aquatic monster.

Batman sits in the Hall of Justice guiding the worldwide evacuation through a psychic connection provided by Miss Martian. The rest of the Justice League is out helping with the evacuation. Each of them feels helpless but does what they can to save lives. They each encounter Ocean Lords and soon realize how powerful these enemies are.

Mera knows she needs all the help she can in protecting Atlantis. She decides to free Ocean Master from prison. Ocean Master quickly takes her to the Hall of Crowns and tells her to take the Crown of Arion. The crown is said to be able to lead them to a weapon that can help them known as the Tear of Extinction.

To make matters even worse, while imprisoned, Aquaman learns that the Ocean Lords have made some kind of deal with the Legion of Doom.

Drowned Earth 1 - DC Comics News

Positives

For this review, I teamed up with fellow reviewer Derek McNeil, who tackles the Justice League book.  So let’s get started!

Cameron: For such a potentially massive storyline, James Tynion IV handles the script with ease. He sets up the Ocean Lords, the connection to the Legion of Doom and the danger that the Earth faces masterfully in the first issue.

Knowing the Legion of Doom is involved and seeing the entire Justice League struggle as well as images of Adam Strange fighting the Ocean Lords in far off space, it tells the audience immediately how sprawling of an epic this storyline will be.

Howard Porter’s artwork is dynamic and beautiful and full of energy in every panel. Hi-fi’s vibrant colors helps to elevate Porter’s illustrations to the next level.

 

Derek: As the regular reviewer of Justice League, I’d like to add my two cents to Cameron’s insights on the issue.

I have long felt that Aquaman is a character with tons of underutilized potential. Very often he is superfluous to a story, because writers don’t know what to do with him when he’s not in an underwater environment – so the only power he often gets to use is his super strength, which is outclassed by Superman and Wonder Woman anyway. Or sometimes the writer diverts the action towards the nearest body of water so that Aquaman can call on the help of the local marine life.

But I love the revelation that Aquaman has always been way more powerful than we ever knew. Aquaman’s power gets transferred to Black Manta, and his very first reaction is, “This… this is how you felt all the time, Aquaman? You had this much power… and you used it to speak to fish?!” I also suspect that there might be something dark about this untapped power, that Arthur mostly suppressed it, but that the malevolent Manta picks up on it immediately.

Drowned Earth 2 - DC Comics News

Negatives

Cameron: My first reaction to the invasion is, “why aren’t the Earth governments immediately suspicious of Atlantis?” This storyline follows The Throne of Atlantis and The Drowning storylines and follows Atlantis after it emerge from the seas again. These stories showed how fragile the relationship is between Atlantis and the world, especially the United States. I would think this new invasion would at least have people wondering if it is a new plan by Atlantis to take over the world. Instead it seems everyone just trusts that it is a new alien force and Atlantis is as much a victim as the rest of the world. I find that a bit hard to believe.

As much as I like Howard Porter’s artwork overall, I do feel at times it is a bit busy and takes a moment to really decipher what’s happening in each frame. But this is a rare occasion.

 

Derek: I agree with Cameron about how it seems odd that none of the world governments are pointing the finger at Atlantis, especially the United States, which has had a rocky relationship with Atlantis all along. On the other hand, the entire world is overwhelmed with just trying to survive. It could be that they haven’t had the time to sit back and start casting blame.

 Drowned Earth 3 - DC Comics News

Verdict

Cameron: Great start to what is obviously going to be an epic story. I am really enjoying how they incorporate so much of the DC Universe, from the Justice League and Legion of Doom, to DC’s past with Arion. It’s a storyline that shows how important Aquaman truly is to the world. I cant wait to see where it goes, and if this first issue is any indication, it’s going to be one helluva ride.

Derek: I wholeheartedly agree that it’s great to have a storyline that establishes Aquaman as a major player in the DCU. Even as a perennial member of the Justice League, he still gets ignored, but it great to see him in the forefront for once. I look forward to seeing wither this story leads and to see what the lasting effect it has on Aquaman and the rest of the DCU.

 

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Cameron Tevis

Hi, I'm Cameron Tevis and I've been a comic book, anime and film fan my entire life. While I like Marvel and anime my true love is DC Comics. My father, who was a fan himself, introduced me at a very young age to the amazing characters in DC (especially Hal Jordan Green Lantern). I think it's a fantastic time to be a comic book fan and I'm happy I get to write about the company that I love so much. Besides being a DC fan, I am a designer and I recently started a comic book series of my own called Event Cycle 6 published through Aporian Comics. I recently wrote and directed a short film "The Misadventures of Harley Quinn". And most importantly I am now a father to my beautiful daughter Arya Jade!