Writer: Danielle Paige
Artist: Stephen Byrne
Colorist: David Calderon
Letterer: Joshua Reed
Rating: 8/10 Tridents
There is a lot of ocean out there, and with it, there should be plenty of space for more than one aquatic hero in the DC universe. No one deserves that more than Mera, who is largely one of the bigger reasons I love my Aquaman comics. Where Arthur barely keeps his head above water trying to find that balance of duty, love, and heroism, Mera does it with such confidence. After her brief mini-series, I was hoping that we had not seen the last of Mera focused stories and the sea answered with Mera: Tidebreaker washing ashore in my pulls. I could no longer ignore the siren’s song of the Instagram community’s votes calling me to the depths of this graphic novel. Warning. Spoilers below.
A Splash Of Plot Summary
Danielle Paige gives us a new reimaging of our fierce ocean princess with an introduction to the city of Xebel, Mera’s home and one of the kingdoms that are under the rule of Atlantis. Here we get to Mera, who is struggling against the world around her on being who she wants to be and not who everyone (her father) expects her to be. When Mera learns that her father is offering up her claim to the Xebel throne to another man in exchange for assassinating Arthur Curry, she sets off to get the job done first to prove that she is her own person.
You would think assassinating someone would be easy when you have cool water powers and have been trained by warriors, right? Mera finds this to not the case as she arrives in Amnesty Bay and encounters her target who is...actually really nice, and offers to let her crash at his place and eat his food. Everything Mera knew begins to shift and that means trying to reassess who she is doing the assassinating for; her, or her homeland. When Arthur and Mera begin to get too close, Xebel and their allies make their move and it comes down to Mera coming clean with Arthur and his father to save them and prevent a war from starting.
Welcome To The DCU Danielle
If I had to pick out the moment that really clicked for me to know that this was going to be a good read, it would have to be Paige’s opening letter talking about her love for these superheroes we are all fans of and her journey to writing this graphic novel. She talks about one of the biggest parts of becoming a hero, figuring their own personal self out and this story of Mera’s nails it. It isn’t just about a montage of learning your powers as Paige puts Mera through a journey of proving herself to be free to make the decisions that she wants, whether that is out of duty, love or for herself. Ultimately, it’s up to her.
If I were to pick a part of the story that I loved the most, it would have to be Paige’s writing bringing up all of Mera’s “you’re going to be dead” inner monologue moments. Every moment she is presented with an opportunity to fulfill her mission is met with another stall followed by her sinister “for now” comments. Definitely a lot of fun with that part of the romance building.
You Gotta “Sea” This
This graphic novel has a lot of standout moments in it but not just with the storytelling from Paige. Byrne brings some great work to this story both on land and sea. His underwater panels are filled with flowing movements of the characters that really give that sense of being underwater. Backgrounds are minimal with subtle imagery that does well to remind you of the location, but not too much to distract you from where Byrne’s work really shines which is in the characters’ expressions. While Paige’s dialogue gives us a sense of what Mera, Arthur and other characters in the story are going through, It’s Byrne who shows the heart of these characters with his amazing ability to detail each expression, ranging through a variety of emotions that requires no dialogue to know what is going through Mera or Arthur’s head in the moment.
If the finely detailed expressions weren’t interesting enough with the art, David Calderon gives this graphic novel a unique look with simply using a pallet of soft greens, blues, and blacks, with the exception of Mera’s (and her family’s) hair, which was a beautiful and vibrant reddish-orange. Each panel with Mera on it stood out with how much her hair popped to the sea-like colors she was surrounded by.
A Conclusion Is Like A Tide...
...it always will come back in. Reading this graphic novel was both enjoyable and different as the coloring style was something new for me to experience. A new spin on the origin for Mera was both empowering and entertaining as it shows that she does not need to be reliant on Aquaman to be an amazing character, but still creates a story that has great romance in it. If you are looking for some amazing female superhero stories to add to your collection, then I would say dive into this one.