This issue proves to be a very important one and maybe even a turning point for this miniseries. For the first time in this series, I really felt there were things at stake for Mera and Orm and that the ending for this series could prove more impactful and exciting than what the first three issues had led me to believe. A lot of important things come to light in this issue, as well as a few twists I didn’t see coming. It also marks the end of Orm acting like a massive douche and then the audience being told “Oh he really has changed! Can’t you see?!” which is always a good development.
The issue starts with a very well done fight scene, picking up almost immediately after the end of the last issue, with Orm and Mera being forced to fight a Xebellian kraken as a ritual battle for the right to speak with the Xebel king, Nereus. The fight scene didn’t take up too much page space while still providing the important action for the issue, leading to a more Game of Thrones style political intrigue feel to the rest of the issue. The scene when Mera and Orm first speak to Nereus was a bit drawn out, but it was peppered with important revelations – like that Mera will rule Atlantis when Rath is finally usurped. This wasn’t that much of a shock, but the weight it held within the scene was strong, and if it does really come to pass by the end of the series and even into the pages of Aquaman, it could prove to be a really important move for the mythology as a whole. #imwithmera.
The other half of the issue takes place on land with Erin and Tula, and this is where the “Orm is a great guy” part of the issue comes into play. It’s amazing what even a few moments of backing up development can do. Case in point, the part where Erin shows Tula the pictures of Orm, Tommy, and Erin being a loving family actually really did make me see a different side of Orm that the earlier issues hadn’t elobarted on. It maybe even makes up for my continuous claims that Orm shouldn’t be a secondary main character in a Mera solo. This is even more evidenced by Orm acting like a normal, level-headed person in his interactions with Mera and Nereus. Mostly.
This is the first issue where most of it takes place underwater, and it really showcased Medina’s art as a whole. One could argue that he could have gone harder on showcasing the movement difference underwater, but again that’s hard, and I won’t fault him because you could definitely tell the difference between the surface and underwater parts. The little water bubbles coming out from the characters’ mouths when they spoke was a nice touch as well. As I mentioned earlier, the fight scene was well done, especially because multi-limbed monsters can be hard for artists to render and to keep track of where the tendrils are at different times, so props to Medina on that.
Overall, this issue did a lot to overcome the problems the series has had and fix them. It’s still not amazingly wonderful, but it is shaping up to not be a chore to read. There was a bit too much talking in this issue, but that’s a usual problem for the fourth issue in a six issue mini, so I’ll let it slide. Maybe at this pace, Mera: Queen of Atlantis will be worth the read in trade.