Some say the world will end in fire. Some say ice. Yet, in JUSTICE LEAGUE/AQUAMAN: DROWNED EARTH #1, the world meets its end in water. This first installment of writer James Tynion IV’s features our titular heroes facing catastrophic losses with little hope in sight.

Furthermore, chaos dominates the issue; provoked by those seeking to take Earth as their own. Unfortunately, though, this chaos bleeds through the issue’s panels, making for a piece that teeters too closely to a muddled state.

Warning, potential spoilers for JUSTICE LEAGUE/AQUAMAN: DROWNED EARTH #1 are below!

justice league/aquaman: drowned earth #1
JUSTICE LEAGUE/AQUAMAN: DROWNED EARTH #1 page 47. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Rise of Atlantis

JUSTICE LEAGUE/AQUAMAN: DROWNED EARTH #1 opens with a flashback to Tom Curry and Atlanna’s life long before their son became the hero known as Aquaman. During this time, they experienced a brief period of bliss. Of course, said bliss was merely fleeting and would come to an end when the couple’s son began developing aquatic abilities. It was at this time that Atlanna took it upon herself to leave her family and return to her duties beneath the sea in order to protect her beloved child.

Fast forward to the present: Aquaman’s life has changed exponentially since then. The villainous and contemptuous Fleet Admiral Tyyde has apprehended him. Ultimately, this group of gods wishes to drown the planet and make it their own. Fortunately for them, their plans go off without a hitch.

Gotham City, Metropolis, and various other locales around the world slowly begin succumbing to the Drowning throughout this issue. Except, it’s more than just a flood. The water actually transforms people into monstrous beings, including familiar characters such as Commissioner James Gordon.

Thus, the Justice League and other heroes across the world embark on a desperate attempt to save the planet. In fact, Mera finds herself so desperate that she breaks Orm out of prison, requesting his aid.

Meanwhile, Superman searches for the source of the Drowning. This happens to be a giant monster known as the Flood, a monster that descends from a race of Krakens. Though Superman puts up a good fight against the creature, Commander Drogue makes his move and nearly kills the Man of Steel.

JUSTICE LEAGUE/AQUAMAN: DROWNED EARTH #1
JUSTICE LEAGUE/AQUAMAN: DROWNED EARTH #1 page 48. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Rise of Black Manta

At this point, it truly doesn’t seem like things can get any worse for the Justice League, but that assumption is proven false. The final pages reveal that Fleet Admiral Tyyde has greater plans for Aquaman than to just imprison him. She actually removes his powers and transfers them to none other than Black Manta!

Now, overall JUSTICE LEAGUE/AQUAMAN: DROWNED EARTH #1 isn’t only a mouthful of a title, it’s also a turbulent piece. Chaos reigns supreme as the issue continuously wavers between perspectives and battles. Thus, it’s difficult to get a grasp on the characterizations of some of the more major players.

With that being said, JUSTICE LEAGUE/AQUAMAN: DROWNED EARTH #1 is certainly an enticing work. The transfer of power from Aquaman to Black Manta is by far the highlight of this issue, opening the door for some exciting developments on Hyde’s side.

Ultimately, though, much of this series’ direction remains to be seen. I do hope future issues will ground themselves better than this introductory one did to better solidify the states of the characters.

JUSTICE LEAGUE/AQUAMAN: DROWNED EARTH #1
JUSTICE LEAGUE/AQUAMAN: DROWNED EARTH #1 Variant Cover. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Many Hues of JUSTICE LEAGUE/AQUAMAN: DROWNED EARTH #1

In regard to the artwork of JUSTICE LEAGUE/AQUAMAN: DROWNED EARTH #1, it too has its ups and downs. Firstly, Hi-Fi’s coloring is quite magnificent. The brownish-red hues of the opening flashback sequence serve as nice contrasts to the emotional gravity of the scene. Additionally, Howard Porter’s work alongside Hi-Fi’s in the brief action sequence between Black Manta and Aquaman is exceptionally detailed.

Unfortunately, though, I did find much of the artwork to be inconsistent. Some of the character depictions felt off, particularly Superman and Mera’s. To me, it almost appeared as though they had a childlike appearance. As a result, their visuals didn’t flow with the nature of this work.

I also felt as though many of the broader-scaled panels appeared muddled. Thus, these sequences lose a lot of detail that could have brought more to the table. Hopefully future issues find a more cohesive direction in their art. There’s plenty of action and characters involved in this series’ narrative. So, I hope upcoming issues capture all those elements in a more structured manner.

What Lies Beyond

JUSTICE LEAGUE/AQUAMAN: DROWNED EARTH #1 might not meet expectations, but it surely screams potential. The scale is ridiculously huge, and the villains appear to be worthy foes in the context of the narrative. Therefore, I’m still looking forward to what lies ahead for this series!

JUSTICE LEAGUE/AQUAMAN: DROWNED EARTH #1 by James Tynion IV, Howard Porter, Hi-Fi, & Tom Napolitano
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
This first installment of the DROWNED EARTH saga may feel repetitive from time to time, but its chaos is undoubtedly a tense and rousing read.
70 %
A deluge of chaos
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