MERA: QUEEN OF ATLANTIS #1 by Dan Abnett, Lan Medina, Richard Friend, Vero Gandini, and Simon Bowland
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
This book may be named for Mera, but this clearly isn't her story. A great amount of her identity has to do with her relationship to men, specifically Aquaman. She quite simply isn't her own person. The plot is mediocre, though there's room to improve in the coming issues. The art, thought, is pretty superb. It's one of the few things that will keep readers from dropping the series completely.
55 %
Pretty Disappointing

Sometimes a comic far exceeds expectations, and sometimes it falls depressingly short. MERA: QUEEN OF ATLANTIS #1, sadly, fits in the latter category.

Some serious red flags pop up, and we simply cannot ignore them. For one, the story doesn’t seem to really be about Mera. For another, we don’t really know who’s telling us this story. Lastly, there’s way too much talk about Aquaman for a book that isn’t named after him.

Warning, there are potential spoilers below!

Not The Queen’s Story

This book both opens and closes with Orm, Arthur’s brother. He has a quaint life on land with his seemingly wonderful family. He has a cute moment with his stepson, the first in which he’s called “dad.” Mera shatters the sweetness when she appears on the television as a reporter tells of a civil war in Atlantis. Orm assures his wife he wants nothing to do with it.

MERA: QUEEN OF ATLANTIS #1
MERA: QUEEN OF ATLANTIS #1 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Mera, meanwhile, is battling the Eel, a villain who really isn’t intimidating at all, despite his ability to make bullet-like projectiles with water (like, let me fight him. I think I could handle it). During this brawl, Mera flashes back to the initial events of Rebirth, just in case we don’t know who Aquaman is. She also remembers some of her combat training, which is definitely more helpful considering she’s in a fight.

Using her quick wit and power, she defeats the Eel. She says that his powers are too dangerous for normal police to handle (people keep saying this, but I truly don’t see it). Mera brings him to Wonder Woman and Superman. She explains that the sitting King of Atlantis, Rath, probably sent the Eel to kill her, knowing that she is weak from exposure to harmful magic. She also denies the help Wonder Woman offers in Aquaman’s battle for Atlantis.

Mera then meets with an American ambassador to request that the U.S. stay out of the Atlantis conflict until she can get it under control. The ambassador agrees. The book ends when Orm decides to become Ocean Master once more, which could really complicate things for Mera and Arthur.

Some Red Flags

It’s pretty common for titular characters to narrate their books. MERA: QUEEN OF ATLANTIS #1 doesn’t follow this norm. There appears to be a third person narrator since the voice belongs to none of the characters we follow. It’s an admittedly interesting choice, but it’s the wrong one. We don’t have enough female voices in the genre, so to decide against giving this character the narrative power is pretty indefensible.

MERA: QUEEN OF ATLANTIS #1
MERA: QUEEN OF ATLANTIS #1 page 7. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Also, Mera’s main motivation seems to be her relationship with Aquaman. When she’s fighting, we’re told she misses Arthur. When she leaves the embassy, the reader sees that Mera wants all of this to be over so she can finally get married. It’s all a little too much about a man, as opposed to what she wants for herself.

The fact that a woman is in love with someone and want to be with that person isn’t the problem. These are all good things! They just shouldn’t be the only things we know about her.

When I heard about this book, I was excited to learn more about Mera. Unfortunately, MERA: QUEEN OF ATLANTIS #1 told me almost nothing I didn’t already know, and that’s not much.

The Upside of MERA: QUEEN OF ATLANTIS #1

Despite its obvious faults, this book looks pretty damn good. The last image of the book — Orm seeing himself as Ocean Master once again in his reflection — may be ill-advised and cliché, but it’s still very striking. The Eel may be a lame villain, but he looks slick and slippery. His design is really the only impressive thing about him.

Arthur Breaks the Crown in AQUAMAN #33

Mera also looks pretty badass. She stands tall and strong and looks like she can hold her own in battle, even when she’s just sitting in an ambassador’s office. This is all due to the work of Lan Medina (pencils), Richard Friend (inks), and Vero Gandini (colors).

Simon Bowland’s lettering plays perfectly into the rest of the art, adding nice flourishes where it can, and using skillful but mundane techniques where the pencils, ink, and color need to pop on their own. The control is impressive. Their work comes together beautifully, making this books as fun to look at as it’s not fun to read.

Bearing in mind that this is only a first issue, we can remain a little hopeful that MERA: QUEEN OF ATLANTIS #1 is simply a rough start in a good series. Yet considering there are only five more installments of this story, there isn’t a ton of room for growth. MERA needs to take a pretty sharp left turn to redeem itself, and it has little time to do so. Let’s hope that this team can prove me wrong and pull it off, because I’d really like to read a good story about this character.

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