Writer: Scott Snyder /Artists: Francis Manapul and Howard Porter / DC Comics
The Earth is drowned no more! In this oversized finale to the Aquaman centered arc, Snyder and co. gave us imperfect Gods, reasonable villains, and an OP Black Manta who whines a lot.
But first, we need to talk about Aquaman. In the midst of the Earth submerging in the purple waters of the Ocean Lords, and all of humanity turning into fish monsters, it seems that Arthur Curry still managed to read Michelle Obama’s new book. Because even though the world is literally ending right before his eyes and he has the means to kill the villains responsible, homie decided to spare their lives and reason with them, because that was the only thing left that hadn’t been tried. I mean, when they go low, we go high, right? But honestly, Aquaman understood that the Ocean Lord’s had been wronged before, and they were only acting out in revenge. Arion, first King of Atlantis, invited them over to teach them some new tricks to take back to their homeworlds, and Poseidon convinced him to flip the script and imprison them instead. I mean damn, I’d be mad too if I came over to learn how to cook sweet potato pie, and you locked me in your closet instead. What are we really doing here?
So, Aquaman felt the only way to end this eons-long conflict was to just be like, “Hey man, I get it. And I’m sorry. My great, great grandad was a dick, but I can teach you those old tricks.” And you know what? It worked. The Ocean Lords were willing to give up their exploits (after almost killing everyone) and start down the path of forgiveness. It was nice to see villains who aren’t so blinded by their rage and their goals that they’re completely incapable of redemption. And it was also dope to see a hero like Aquaman use compassion instead of his fists.
We got a lot of Black Manta in this issue as well. Dude double-crossed everybody. The Ocean Lords and Lex Luthor had to double take at the audacity. See, homie got too much power. The life force that once energized Aquaman now flows through him, and he wears the bones that conjure the Space Kraken. He thought the world was his, Chico. But he flew too high. He burned all his bridges. And now he’s left to fend for himself while all his former villainous ties are surely on the hunt for him. I’m a little torn about what happened to Manta. It was dope to see him have some agency outside the LOD, and especially cool to see more of his nuanced motivations, but it seems like after the events of this issue, he’s not gonna be around anymore which is a bummer.
We got a nice little roster shakeup at the end of the issue as well. Without spoiling too much, it seems like for the time being that Mera is gonna take Aquaman’s place on the Justice League. I’m all for it to be honest. I’m sure he’ll be back in no time, but until then, Mera can bring the heat with her tenacity and royal ability to give no F’s. Plus, any way to make an already diverse book even more diverse is a win in my opinion. I’m mostly happy that an event as big as this will have lasting effects on the story as a whole. Too many times things are tied up in a nice little bow. So, it’s nice to see that amongst all the other things Snyder and Co. are doing right, cause and effect are one of them.
In the end, Drowned Earth delivered on its promise of being a 90’s influenced swashbuckling journey through the waters of the universe while putting our heroes in some weird predicaments (and costumes). But in addition to that, it created some vacuums of power and presence that will be interesting to see filled in the coming issues.
9 Cocky Black Mantas out of 10
Reading Justice League? Find BNP’s other reviews here.
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