Wednesday, January 29, 2020

#IReadsYou Review: MERA: Tidebreaker

DC COMICS/DC Ink – @DCComics

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

STORY: Danielle Paige – @daniellempaige
ART: Stephen Byrne
COLORS: David Calderon
LETTERS: Joshua Reed
EDITORS: Ben Abernathy and Michelle R. Wells
ISBN:  978-1-4012-9339-1; paperback; (April 2, 2019)
208pp, Color, $16.99 U.S., $22.99 CAN

Age Range: 13 and up

Mera created by Jack Miller and Nick Cardy

Mera is a DC Comics character that is part of the Aquaman line of comic books.  She was created by writer Jack Miller and artist Nick Cardy and first appeared in Aquaman #11 (cover dated: September 1963).  Mera is “queen of the sea” and Queen of Atlantis to Aquaman's “king of the sea” and King of Atlantis.  Once a supporting character, modern versions of Mera emphasize her own super-human strength and magic power (to control water), and she is portrayed as a superhero.

DC Ink is a DC Comics imprint that offers original graphic novels for readers 13-years-old and older.  DC Ink titles will feature, according to DC Comics, coming-of-age stories that encourage teens to ask themselves who they are and how they relate to others.

Mera: Tidebreaker is the title that kicks off the DC Ink line.  It is written by novelist Danielle Paige (the Dorothy Must Die series).  It is drawn by Stephen Byrne, colored by David Calderon; and lettered by Joshua Reed.  Mera: Tidebreaker focuses on a teenage heir to the throne who believes that murdering a prince of a rival kingdom will allow her to rule her kingdom independently.

Mera: Tidebreaker introduces Mera, teenage royalty and heir to the throne of Xebel.  Once one of the seven kingdoms of Atlantis, Xebel now is oppressed by Atlantis.  Xebel seethes with the potential for rebellion against Atlantis.  Mera's father, Ryus, expects his daughter to marry Larken, the son of the ruler of “The Trench,” a kingdom allied to Xebel.

The Xebellian military plots to overthrow Atlantis and break free of its oppressive regime, and one of the most important moves in this rebellion is finding and assassinating Arthur Curry, the long-lost prince and heir to the throne of Atlantis.  Mera decides to take that mission on herself, as she believes that killing Arthur will allow her to sit on the throne of Xebel without having a man at her side.

Arthur lives on land, in the beach town of Amnesty Bay.  Mera not only takes her first steps on land, but she also gets sidetracked when she finds herself having unexpected feelings for the target of her assassination mission, Arthur.

I first came upon Mera as the dutiful, but powerful wife of Aquaman decades ago.  While the comic books I read depicted Mera as quite the fighter in her own right, I would never have imagined a Mera comic book like Mera: Tidebreaker.  This graphic novel explores the themes of duty, love, heroism, and freedom with depth and substance.  Mera is a strong, complex, and messy character in ways that makes it hard for the reader not to attach herself to this engaging young woman.

I think what makes Mera: Tidebreaker work is that writer Danielle Paige presents Mera's coming-of-age as a work-in-progress.  The hero, in this case, Mera, does not learn about herself and her place in the world, nor does she develop relationships with others.  Instead Mera is learning about herself and her place in the world.  She is developing relationships with others.  Mera's journey is ongoing; nothing is really complete, and there are few if any easy answers.  Every resolution is part of an evolution, so, without spoiling things, I can say that Mera: Tidebreaker looks as if it will be the first in a new original graphic novel series.

Stephen Byrne tells this tale in brawny, effective graphical storytelling.  [It is hard for me to believe that this is the same Stephen Byrne who drew the recent, detestable Wonder Twins comic book.]  Byrne tells Mera: Tidebreaker as if it were some hot, television teen soap opera, using intense emotions and powerful moments of drama and confrontation to shape the characters.  Byrne makes Mera: Tidebreaker a cover-to-cover read.  [I read it in one sitting.]

Colorist David Calderon uses his colors to accentuate Mera: Tidebreaker and to give it an unusual visual appearance.  I might describe that appearance as some kind of realism.  Joshua Reed's lettering is effective and effectively sized and placed to make the story flow smoothly.

Mera: Tidebreaker has an all-around excellent creative team, and they make this the high-quality launch an imprint needs, especially DC Ink, with its particular ambitions.  One might even argue, that Mera: Tidebreaker gives young readers the kind of select original graphic novel that older readers take for granted.

8 out of 10

[This book contains a preview of the original graphic novel, Under the Moon: A Catwoman's Tale, from writer Lauren Myracle; artist Isaac Goodhart; colorist Jeremy Lawson; and letterer Deron Bennett.]

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2019 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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