Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth #1 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Howard Porter, Artist; Hi-Fi, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Character Focused
Ray: James Tynion IV is having a busy week, finishing up one mini-event for DC and kicking off another. Both spin out of the events of Dark Nights: Metal, but while The Witching Hour is a complex and horrifying thriller, Drowned Earth is more of a no-holds-barred summer blockbuster. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its appeal, but reading them back to back as I did will not make Aquaman’s star turn look good next to Wonder Woman’s.
The threat is just as big and wide-reaching – a toxic ocean from another world, transforming all of Earth into sea monsters at the behest of a trio of evil Gods from the Dark Multiverse. The issue is, these three villains – Tyyde, Gall, and Drogue – are menacing but essentially stock villains, carrying ancient grudges from dead worlds. Their designs feel like something out of Pirates of the Caribbean, a reference Flash makes later in the issue. As the issue opens, it feels like they’ve already won – they have most of the Justice League at their mercy, and the majority of Earth’s population has already been horribly transformed.
The moments that make this issue work overall are the smaller ones. The League is splintered and is trying to stem the chaos as best they can, but it’s not working very well. Howard Porter, a veteran Flash artist, does a good job with the Speedster’s chaotic rescue missions. Batman, still in his fancy Bat-brace, uses a hologram to project himself into Gotham to try to warn Commissioner Gordon.
The best segment was probably Mera and Orm’s battle to escape from Atlantis, and their dynamic picks up nicely from Abnett’s run. Orm, while arrogant, seems a bit nobler than he does in that title, eventually sacrificing himself to the hordes and being transformed. Aquaman, meanwhile, is still in the hands of the dark Gods and finds out that one of his deadliest enemies has cut an evil pact with them. This issue doesn’t slow down for a second, but that’s a double-edged sword. We get a lot of action, but there’s very little time to slow down and appreciate the mood. It’s fun and exciting, but right now it’s not much else. I’m hopeful this will turn into a deeper story as it goes on.
Corrina: I wasn’t a big fan of the beginning of this event but this chapter caught my attention. I didn’t check the writing credits until the end but I’m not surprised to see Tynion wrote this comic–I seem to be on his wavelength as a reader nearly 100 percent of the time.
First, I thought the explanation for the water–some sort of collective organic parasite/entity–was pretty damn terrifying. It also makes sense, in the context of the story, rather than water simply filled with a strange chemical that drowns the Earth. Obviously, the people will be put back together–not for a minute do I believe Gordon is lost for good–but I still question the physical damage for the world after this is over. I hope that’s not handwaved away.
Second, as Ray mentioned, the small, intimate moments work well. Gordon is perfect. Orm and Mera’s tense, unhappy relationship is handled well. Aquaman and Mera’s longing for each other drips off the page. And Batman himself shows more of his emotions than usual.
And, wonderfully, Wonder Woman has the best entrance at the end.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.