The Queen of Atlantis faces off against the Ocean Master in Mera: Queen of Atlantis #6! Writer Dan Abnett and artist Lan Medina gamble with the fate of Atlantis in this final issue in the popular miniseries. Though Mera is the Queen of Atlantis, Arthur’s ever-present brother Orm has his eyes set on the throne. In Queen of Atlantis #5, Orm made a treacherous deal with Mera’s birthplace, Xebel, that would make him King of Atlantis. In an attempt to thwart his efforts, Mera challenged Orm to a traditional Xebel battle. The winner would take the throne of Atlantis.
The majority of this issue features the one-on-one fight between Mera and Orm. While Mera struggles near the beginning, her aquakinesis is strong and she’s able to defeat the Ocean Master. Though she doesn’t kill him as Xebel tradition insists, she does imprison him. Her victory over Orm assures that Xebel will always recognize her position as Queen…even if they don’t want to.
While Mera did get a spotlight role in this issue, I still wonder if Mera: Queen of Atlantis was an appropriate title for this series. True, she’s on every cover of almost every issue, but her character is hardly the star of the show. It’s clear that Orm, a.k.a. Ocean Master, is who Abnett really wanted to highlight with this series. The conflict between Orm’s surface life and Atlantis life is interesting and could become a compelling solo series in itself, but it doesn’t belong in a Mera solo series. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense.
With the DCEU’s Aquaman film coming out soon, I can’t help but think Orm’s prevalence in Mera: Queen of Atlantis has something to do with the film. Fans already saw Mera in Justice League and might have become invested enough to pick up an issue of Queen of Atlantis. By including Ocean Master, Abnett is priming fans for the classic villain who (according to the trailer) will appear in Aquaman. It’s a good idea on Abnett and DC’s part, but it does feel a little dishonest. Fans bought Mera: Queen of Atlantis for Mera…not for Orm.
Thankfully, issue #6 does push the focus back onto Mera. However, in an issue that’s primarily just a long fight scene — there isn’t a ton of time for quality characterization. While Mera’s inner narration is enlightening, I would’ve liked to see a few more scenes detailing Mera’s development.
With all of that negativity out of the way, let’s focus on what made this issue a successful conclusion to the series: the art. Penciller Lan Medina demonstrates some fantastic skills, as does issue colorist Veronica Gandini. Fight scenes are notoriously hard to illustrate. A penciller needs an extremely strong grasp on anatomy to be able to create realistic action poses from compelling angles. Medina doesn’t hit every panel perfectly, but overall he delivers his best work of the series in this issue.
What I noticed that was a little different from past issues of the series was Medina’s use of composition. He keeps readers engaged during the fight scene by varying how he positions characters and how he lays out the panels. Much like a director or cinematographer would, Medina uses angles to keep things fresh. I think a lot of comic book artists could learn a thing or two from Medina’s work in this issue.
Paired with Medina’s work, Abnett’s writing isn’t bad. As a true Mera fan, I don’t think Abnett is as devoted to the character as a lot of readers are, unfortunately, but he does try. The end of this issue shows a Mera filled with determination, which is a version of Mera anyone who read the New 52 Aquaman series will be familiar with.
Though Mera: Queen of Atlantis #6 is far from flawless, it is one of the better issues in the miniseries. If you love Mera, this issue, and the series, might be a letdown, but if you’re a fan of the Aquaman universe as a whole, Mera: Queen of Atlantis #6 is for you.