Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artwork: Lan Medina (pencils), Richard Friend (inks), Vero Gandini (colours)
Release Date: 28th February 2018
Spinning out of the pages of Dan Abnett’s Aquaman series, Mera: Queen of Atlantis gives one of the most intriguing quote-unquote “supporting” characters in the DC Universe a well-deserved turn in the spotlight.
For those of you who may not be up to date (and SPOILER WARNINGS in advance), here’s the story so far: Arthur Curry has been removed as King at the request of the people of Atlantis in favour of a leader who “has their best interests at heart”. Unfortunately, his replacement Corum Rath – in a somewhat predictable turn of events – immediately tried to kill Aquaman and, shortly thereafter, called on ancient magic to cut off Atlantis from the rest of the world with a powerful shield called the ‘Crown of Thorns.’
Desperate to find out what happened to her seemingly dead husband, Mera managed to break through the shield but was badly injured, losing some of her abilities in the process. And, as the not-dead-after-all Aquaman-led revolution managed to bring down the Crown of Thorns once and for all, Mera was declared Queen by the Widowhood and taken back to the surface to convalesce.
Abnett uses a lot of this first issue to give us a pleasing recap of (or introduction to, depending on your point of view) Mera as a character, as well as running down some of the recent developments I mentioned above. She’s always been an intensely likeable protagonist as a result of her no-nonsense approach to diplomacy and fierce loyalty to Arthur, and it’s great to see her standing on her own two feet here ahead of what should be a fascinating character arc as the (somewhat grudging) ruler of Atlantis.
The issue lays the groundwork well for the series to come, and it should probably go without saying that Abnett has a pretty firm grip of the character by now. A significant portion of the chapter is taken up with a skirmish between the near powerless Mera and hired assassin The Eel, which actually ends up being pretty damn intense, presenting the somewhat D-list bad guy as a legitimate threat to our recovering heroine.
On the visual side of things, Lan Medina and Richard Friend do a solid job in what is very much a ‘house style’ DC book, with a far more ‘comic booky’ look than Sejic and Federici’s work on the main Aquaman title. The action flows smoothly, particularly during the aforementioned skirmish, and while there’s the occasionally wonky facial expression along the way (particularly in the case of two entirely unnecessary ‘guest stars’ who show up for no real reason midway through the issue), Vero Gandini’s colours help give the book a suitably solid and vibrant aesthetic.
Perhaps most importantly, this first issue is bookended by a pair of genuinely intriguing scenes featuring Orm adjusting to his new family life on dry land, and if the fantastic final page is anything to go by, these are scenes that definitely promise to shape the whole direction of the miniseries as it unfolds.
An enjoyable opening chapter then, and I honestly hope this series does as well as it clearly deserves to, leading to a fully fledged Mera solo series, because to be perfectly honest, she’s one of the most interesting DC characters not to already have one. Well worth a look if you’ve ever been curious about the character, and an absolutely essential purchase if you’re already following the main Aquaman series.
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