A princess of the Atlantean prison dimension, Xebel, Mera was trained as an assassin to strike against the Atlantean king. Nobody expected her to fall in love with her target – least of all her! Since that time, Mera has suffered many indignities as the consort of Aquaman – from the ignorance of surface-dwellers who call her Aquawoman or Mermaid to the scorn of the Atlantean people, who see her as unworthy of being the wife of their King.
Mera thought that was why she was being subjected to the trials of The Widowhood – a sect of women charged with observing the proper traditions of Atlantean culture. Their tests were meant to be a form of royalty school, teaching Mera the history and customs of Atlantis a queen would be presumed to know, before her marriage to King Arthur.
Mera discovered that The Widowhood are more than mere moral guardians – they are a sect of mystics, with access to some of the most ancient prophecies in the history of Atlantis. One such prophecy speaks of The Atlantean Apocalypse – the time called The Deluge. It is said The Deluge shall begin after the death of one of Atlantis’ greatest kings. It is further said his queen, stricken by grief and made more powerful in her rage, would start a war that would bring about the destruction of Atlantis and the surface world!
There is one other part of the prophecy that concerns The Widowhood – the part that says that this Fatal Queen will be one of Xebel blood…
One of the few things most would agree that The New 52 reboot got right was making Mera a more active participant in Aquaman’s adventures in the surface world. That trend began during Geoff Johns’ Blackest Night and Dan Abnett has continued that into the Rebirth series. This is not a matter of political correctness but one of practicality. With her water-shaping powers on top of the usual Atlantean abilities, Mera is a more versatile hero than Aquaman in most respects. Her background as a woman torn between two warring political factions also make her a fascinating character and a natural partner for the equally trapped-between-two-worlds Aquaman.
Given that, it’s a joy to see her take the center stage in this issue. There is a Shakespearean aura to Abnett’s script this month – not only because of the witches spouting prophecy or the Montague/Capulet feud between Atlantis and Xebel but because of the general sense of drama. For instance, there are some wonderful monologues for Mera as she curses the obstacles that Fate and Duty keep placing between her and her beloved.
The art team presents this story with all the grandeur it deserves. Brad Walker has an incredibly fluid style (no pun intended!) that lends itself well to both the vivid imagery of the destruction wrought by The Deluge prophecy and the quieter scenes of Mera enjoying a moment’s peace with her dog. Andrew Hennessy’s inks enhance Walker’s pencils without over-shading them. And the color art by Gabe Eltaeb is always excellent.
Those who would mock Aquaman would do well to read this series. No longer focused on the “friend of the fishes” from the old Superfriends cartoon, this book is fast-becoming a political thriller on-par with the better episodes of The West Wing, albeit one in which President Bartlet occasionally slugs it out with a terrorist leader whose father he killed. That is not a perfect metaphor but Aquaman is a perfect comic.