Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth Special #1 Review



DC Comics’ next big event starts here!

This week, DC Comics is imploring fans to dive into their latest big event, which loops Aquaman and his culture’s baggage into the wider world. Atlantis has a complicated history, and as is revealed in this issue, that history has opened a door for aquatic god-like alien life to take over Earth. Oh, and Batman doesn’t know what to do. Gulp.

So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

“Drowned Earth” part one! The Ocean Lords–ancient sea gods with a grudge against Aquaman and Wonder Woman–invade the Earth with an alien army and flood the globe. As Batman, Superman and the Flash race to stop the waters from rising and turning everyone into aquatic monsters, Mera seeks the advice of an old enemy, and Arthur must face down Black Manta…or lose his connection to the ocean forever!

Why does this matter?

This event is directly tied to some of the biggest comics at DC, so if you want to continue to read those you’ll need to read this to be fully in the loop. There’s no doubt this event is occurring now because of the new Aquaman movie so expect some overlap in design and story choices that will surely mirror the film. Another good reason to pick this up is that it validates Aquaman further in a universe where he’s always been second fiddle.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

What a creepy way for mom to say bye. Credit: DC Comics

I’m all in on this event in large part because it further develops Aquaman’s corner of the universe. He’s always been a bit of a loner as a king of a nation, but this story is directly spilling his culture’s baggage into the world. There’s some interesting world building going on with alien aquatic cultures, too. Aquaman has always been a strange sort of character living in a mythical world that is hidden from reality under the seas. It was a corner of the Earth that doesn’t usually get to integrate into bigger stories, until now. DC is basically turning Aquaman into a more spacefaring character, which not only allows for new stories, but bigger ones.

As first issues go, this is a good place to start, especially if you didn’t read the lead-up issues of Justice League #10 and Aquaman #41. It sets up the fact that our heroes are way in over their heads, the world is literally drowning, and there’s really no hope. It’s a scary situation and writer James Tynion IV doesn’t give us a hint at to how our heroes can win at all. Even Superman seems underpowered and Batman is clueless too. That sets up the event nicely, since it will require more than just the big three to win the day. This issue also comes with two big reveals, helping to understand how this event happened and who is leading the charge from the heroes’ side of things.

The art by Howard Porter and colors by Hi-Fi do a good job giving the rising waters and colorful enemies an appealing look. It’s cartoony in a sense, but it suits the alien aspects the heroes are facing. Porter has a good handle on perspective too, making images seem larger than life, like a looming Superman over his flooded city, or a diabolical villain rising from the waters.

TSA can sometimes really suck. Credit: DC Comics

It can’t be perfect can it?

Having read Aquaman #41 and Justice League #10 this issue has a bit of a retread going on. There are new developments to be sure, but a chunk of pages either show the world flooding or remind us what the deal is with Batman, Mera, and Aquaman. It’s a necessary element of a first issue to be sure, but it does highlight how this story doesn’t progress things too far. By the end of the issue, the heroes are in an even worse place, but the Earth is about as flooded as it was in the last two tie-ins.

Is it good?

If you’re just joining this event it’s a good first issue that sets things up and has a reveal or two too. If you read the tie-ins that lead to this story, however, it’s going to feel like a retread for a good portion. As events go, though, it’s very clear the stakes have never been higher.

Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth Special #1
Is it good?
If you’re just joining this event it’s a good first issue that sets things up and has a reveal or two too. If you read the tie-ins that lead to this story, however, it’s going to feel like a retread for a good portion. As events go, though, it’s very clear the stakes have never been higher.
Sets things up and makes it very clear how high the stakes are
Art suits the alien aspects and fluidity of the story
A couple big beat moments
If you read the lead in issues this has some definite retread
8
Good