As the reluctant Queen Mera continues to work toward a peace between the surface and the sea, her rule is challenged by the former king of Atlantis, Orm the Ocean Master.
When this Mera: Queen of Atlantis was announced, I was as excited as anyone could possibly imagine that Mera was finally getting her own mini series. The first issue was a bit of a let down, however. If I ran the zoo, I would have a Mera solo be a bit more separated from the events of current canon so that it could be recommend to people who maybe aren’t caught up on Aquaman, but still want to read about Mera kickin’ ass as she was meant to do. Of course, there’s no use crying over spilled milk. Despite my concerns that this was tied too heavily to the events of Rebirth Aquaman and even New 52 Aquaman (as well as Forever Evil, if you wanted to add that throwback into the mix,) this second issue was still very good.
It kind of bothers me on merit that a Mera SOLO comic uses Orm as basically a second main character. I like Orm/Ocean Master. I think he’s an interesting character and a good other side of the coin to Arthur, even despite the fact that the evil brother of the hero trope is overdone in superhero fiction. And in the confines of this story, I find him a good counter to Mera because both have walked the path of redemption at one time or another (in current canon at least.) He’s well characterized in this since he’s always been an asshole to Mera and them having to put aside their differences to fight for the greater good of the people and nation they love is as good an idea for a six issue series as any. It’s just that sometimes this comic feels more like a Mera/Orm team up title and less like a solo vehicle for Mera.
This issue is basically one prolonged scene, as Orm abandons his family to courtesy call Mera about how he’s going to fight Corum Rath (I think that’s his name…I’m really disinterested in Aquaman canon right now. Can you tell?) to regain the throne of Atlantis. It’s emotionally charged, and with the set up in the first issue of Orm being happy with his newfound wife and child, it adds a layer of emotional depth to him even when he’s calling the heroine of the series a sea wench. I also kind of hate that if this series is going to be so tied into canon, why did they choose THIS time in canon to give Mera a solo? When she’s depowered and weak? I guess I should save judgement until the series is over, but it just seems so weird. Orm tearing Mera a new one was just painful, and we all know full well that if Mera was at full ocean kinetic capacity, she would pummel Orm’s bitch ass. I’m sorry for speaking the truth, but that’s just how it is.
The art tells the story well, even if it’s more DC house style than I usually find interesting. Some of the facial expressions, especially Mera’s, look blank and disinterested, but not so much so that it would hinder a normal reader’s enjoyment. Medina renders water very well. It’s not so lifelike that it takes you out of the story, but it moves organically and sometimes even beautifully. This is of course very important in an Aquaman family comic, and I like that lately DC has been screening it’s artists more heavily in the “should this person be able to draw water well to be the artist on Aquaman?” sense. Brad Walker and Ivan Reis did the same thing with their rendering of water during their time on the series.
As much as I complained in this review, I did really like the issue. The more grounded and intimate look at Orm and Mera’s relationship was welcome, as well as the careful pacing. By itself it was a good issue, it’s just the more glaring problems with the series overshadow my full enjoyment of it. I should just be happy Mera has a “solo” comic at all.