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 – Titans #1 (DC Comics)

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

Warning: minor spoilers, or major if you haven’t read DC Rebirth #1 or Titans: Rebirth #1!

“Then let’s get it all back, Donna. All the good stuff we lost. Make ourselves whole again.” Arsenal

Titans

Cover art by Booth, Rapmund & Dalhouse

I was fairly spoilt for choice today for new comics to review. I had Batgirl, Nightwing and Titans on the cards. Out of the three stories so far the Titans story is the one I’m most excited about, with the return of Wally West. Titans #1 (written by Dan Abnett, pencils by Brett Booth, inks by Norm Rapmund, colours by Andrew Dalhouse and letters from Carlos M. Mangual) picks up where the DC Rebirth issue left off. We begin with a quick flashback to the Rebirth issue, summing up how Wally escaped the speed force and returned to the Titans. The focus of the issue is reintroducing the team dynamic and showing how Wally will fit into it all.

As with all super team comics, Titans has to walk the fine line of giving enough members of the team involvement so none of them feel pointless in being there. Wally takes the lead, I was a little disappointed he didn’t get his own series after being so integral to Rebirth, however he is taking centre stage in the events of the early Titans comics. We’re reintroduced to Omen after the quick recap, who’s exploring Wally’s memories and trying to find out as much as possible about the entity that changed history and their memories. She’s having a tough time getting past Wally’s memories of Linda, his wife from pre-New 52 who had no memory of him when he reached out to her.

Other members of the team move the plot on in the background, while working in exposition here and there. There’s a nice touch of humour between the ever sarcastic Arsenal and Tempest. We get a set up at the end of the issue with the first main villain the Titans will have to deal with. They didn’t take up much of the issue, but I’m sure their role will increase going forward now the team is back in business.

Titans interiors

Art by Booth, Rapmund & Dalhouse

As for the art, I’m really enjoying Wally’s new costume. They aren’t giving him a new pseudo-Flash title. He’s still a Flash, though different from Barry Allen and the suit shows it, with a mix of the red of the Flash and a similar structure to his old Kid Flash outfit. He chose the design just as his identity is being established in the DC Universe. Otherwise Booth, Rapmund and Dalhouse have to work a lot into to every panel with so many characters, they do a lot of good work with the limited space they’re given. Each character’s personality is portrayed in their mannerisms, the way they sit, fold their arms and carry themselves and although the action is limited it feels dynamic and the heroes feel very powerful and in control. I have only one nit-pick with the art in the whole comic. There’s a page where we see Omen and Wally doing their mind meld and the team is there. Donna seems to be staring upwards, for no apparent reason, looking a little spaced out.

 

 

But the most important question:

Can Booth draw hands? As you’d expect with an artist for one of the major comic book players of course they can. With so many characters and so much going on they have to draw a lot of them as well, often very small and in awkward places. As I said before the art captures each character’s personality, and gesture plays a huge part in this. In the small background images and conversations, although the hands aren’t so detailed they do feel natural and look to be right where they should be. With so many there are some minor instances when maybe they look a little off if you go out of you way to look at them though. Even so, I think here we have a solid 8.5 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

The message at play here is how good it is to have Wally back and how natural the team now feels. There’s a little less meta I feel going on than the acknowledgement that the Spyral role didn’t fully suit Dick in Grayson or the apparent admission that DC have overly scrambled Wonder Woman’s back story a few too many times. But this works well in itself. DC need the fun stories, in my opinion they’ve been a little lacking, and Wally who’s classically known for his fun loving attitude and his friends in the Titans are perfect to help provide that. He’s still working things out since he’s back as he’s been through a hell of a lot, but he still comes across as a great guy. It’s a solid first issue.

Score: 8.3 Pizzas out of 10