Aquaman #41 // Review
It’s the second part of the Drowned Earth arc, and Aquaman #41, written by Dan Abnett, with pencils by Lan Medina, inks by Vicente Cifuentes, and colors by Gabe Eltaeb, brings the readers a tale that is all-but-absent of its title character. Previously, Atlantis was risen from its home at the bottom of the ocean, and Arthur was replaced by Mera as its ruler. Now, the two must adjust to their new roles, as aquatic aliens from across the universe come to drown the Earth and turn it’s populace into sea monsters.
This seems like a fine enough story in concept, but it was, perhaps, foisted on this book at an inopportune time. The creative team just wrapped up a crossover with Suicide Squad in the previous issue, so launching into yet another crossover with Justice League is just a drag for readers. At least with the Squad story, it wasn’t completely necessary for the audience to go out and pick up another book, as Abnett was great about filling everyone in on most of the details in his half of the arc. This time around, if you haven’t read Justice League #10, you will be completely lost. Even the one scene showing you where Aquaman is, and why he is not present to save Atlantis, isn’t much help in answering why the whole situation is happening.
Mera gets a lot of panel time this issue, as she has since she took over as Queen of Atlantis, and that’s great! Between this and her recent solo miniseries, she has been given a lot to do in the DC universe lately, and it is much deserved, because she is a rich character with tons of potential. Unfortunately, that means Aquaman has been relegated to nearly a supporting character status in his own book the last few issues. If Abnett and DC want to continue this exposure for Mera (and they should), it might be best to give her a permanent solo title, or even rename the current book “Aquaman and Mera”. If they do the latter, though, they need make sure the panel time for the two characters is evened out a little more.
The story for Drowned Earth itself seems unengaging, so far. Again, that might have been remedied by having some real focus on Arthur in an Aquaman-centered arc, but, at the moment, it’s just another big alien invasion story with an aquatic twist. Fortunately, the end of the issue promises some interesting things ahead, but it might be too little, too late at this point.
Medina’s pencils are a change in style from recent artists on this title, but not all change is bad. He handles Atlantis and its citizens well, really providing a unique look for the people, but also reminding the audience how close they are to humans. Mera was particularly well-drawn, and, if they do decide to give her another solo series (hint, hint DC), Medina would be perfect for it. The inks and colors by Cifuentes and Eltaeb also provide the overall art with great depth and a sense of magic that runs throughout Atlantis. The panels of this book practically radiate with color, which has become a staple look for this title.
In the end, even though this gave some nice story time to Mera, it was lacking as a leg of a big Justice League story. Despite all of the world being overrun by toxic water that transforms anyone it touches, this issue just felt like filler while readers were waiting for Snyder to continue the real story over in his book. If you’re picking up this title just to complete the Drowned Earth arc, it’s really not necessary, and if you’re picking it up because you’re a regular reader, you’re probably just going to be disappointed.