Comic Review – Mera: Queen of Atlantis #1 (DC Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

Cover art by Nicola Scott

“To my surprise I have been declared Queen in Exile” Mera

And I’m back again to pick up a new comic review. I thought it time to return to the mainstream comics having picked up an indie last time (though there will be more of these to follow). This time Mera: Queen of Atlantis caught my eye. It’s a first issue and I’m looking to expand the DC comics I read. Mera is a character I am familiar with through other media – Justice League and Aquaman mainly and she is someone I felt I could get to know better. She’s framed as a warrior queen in a similar way to a fair few other comic book heroes, and I want to see what she can do with the spotlight on her and not in a supporting role. This comic is bought to us by:

  • Writer – Dan Abnett
  • Pencils – Lan Medina
  • Inks – Richard Friend
  • Colours – Veronica Gandini
  • Letters – Simon Bowland

The plot picks up with Mera stranded on the surface, the throne lost and much of her power drained in a coup in Atlantis. Aquaman may be dead and not only does she have to recover, take back the throne and keep the surface world countries out of Atlantis through political maneuvering, she also has to deal with assassins sent by the usurper Rath. It’s a lonely task as well, as with many civil disputes it’s not an issue outsiders such as the Justice League can simply weigh in on. There’s a lot of exposition getting into this comic. In rapid succession it brings the reader up to speed with the state of play in Atlantis, Mera’s situation and how it relates to the world at large. Additionally the issue sets up the likely role of who I presume will be her ally, Ocean Master.

As for the art, Medina, Friend and Gandini have worked together to create a vibrant world, rich in colour. There are numerous different settings which they jump between, using full colour spreads during the intense action, a faded palette during flashbacks and good use of white space to slow things down during conversations and exposition reveals.

Art by Medina, Friend, Gandini and Bowland

The real test, with so many different settings and scenes is how well the hands are drawn though? Pretty solidly overall. They look great during action scenes and add a great dynamic element to Mera when she’s swimming or in water. When they are visible during character conversations they look good, however I would have liked to have seen more of them due to the emphasis they can give on body language, emotion and communication.

Final Verdict

This is a solid first issue. There is a lot to get through though and it took me a couple of reads to take everything in. I think if you’re more familiar with Atlantean DC Lore you would pick this up easily but as someone who knows their way around it less it was a bit of a tough read in places.

Score: 8 Aquakinetics out of 10

Comic Review – Squadron Supreme #1 (Marvel Comics)

Kit is taking over the weekly comic book review because Adam is in the unenviable position of attempting to finish off his PhD.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Atlantis has risen… Now watch me make it fall again!” – Hyperion

This week I should be doing coursework, and not writing comic review. Should. But I know where my priorities lie! Procrastination! So, what’s to be looked at this week? Well it hasn’t been released with a huge amount of fan-fare (as far as I’ve seen…) but Squadron Supreme (written by James Robinson, artists: Leonard Kirk, Paul Neary and Frank Martin) caught my eye. Why? I’ll get into that properly in a moment, but it’s a comic I’ve heard a bit about online before. I liked the concept and I’m sure many of you will too, I just hadn’t tried it.

Who are the Squadron Supreme? Well, we get introduced to them in the first few pages. They’re a group of heroes who have formed a “League” of sorts, to fight for “Justice”. We have Batman Nighthawk, Superman Hyperion, The Flash Blur, The Green Lantern Doctor Spectrum and Wonder Woman Power Princess. Who have united to form the Justice League Squadron Supreme. This is not subtle. It is not meant to be subtle. Marvel and DC have been ripping characters off each other for years, and this is Marvel’s take on the Justice League. Our heroes aren’t entirely the same though, most of them just have a very similar power set and pretty similar backstories…

But, the key difference here is they’re all from different universes that have ended. Why you may ask? Actually, that’s my biggest criticism of the comic. They know who did it, and we get a vague justification, but no real explanation. For a first issue this makes for a pretty glaring hole. Anyway, the team, survivors from dead universes have combined their might to make sure this never happens again, that this universe will never suffer the same fate and those behind the destruction of their homes will pay.

SquadSo who did it you may ask? Well, it was Aquaman Namor. And we kick things off with a fierce battle between the Squadron Supreme and Namor and his Atlantic forces. They’re out for revenge and Namor admits he did what he must, and shouldn’t be held to account because all he did was hasten the deaths of their dying realities. Well, OK. A bit more of an explanation here would be nice. This seems to tie in to Secret Wars? It’s not clear if it does. A hint for where to get more info would be very nice. Anyway, the battle does not go well for Namor.

We see the sorts of heroes this team is made of. They may be like the Justice League, but they cross the line the real team won’t. They kill. It feels like very family territory if you’ve read or watched Justice League: Gods and Monsters or similar. Public support around the world is mixed for the team, some loving their brutal ways. Meanwhile, a hero prepares to take on these extremists. The original Human Torch, Jim Hammond. He fought alongside Namor and Captain America in World War 2. He’s back, with his old (now literally) team mate and the Uncanny Avengers to take on the Squadron.

The art looks great, the fights are action packed and have these cool blur effects on them, the colours are vibrant and the whole thing comes together really well.

Final Verdict

I like the idea behind this, it’s fun to see a take on the Justice League that does manage to feel original if going over slightly familiar ground. I love the art… but… there are some issues: it felt too short, the whole thing was 23 pages long, and a page or two more for some exposition would have been really useful. I knew of these characters and I needed a little guidance, this is meant to be an issue #1 where complete newbies can join in. Still, I want to know what happens next and I’ll give issue #2 a shot myself!

Final Score – 7.5 DC Clones out of 10!