Mera: Tidebreaker by Danielle Paige and Stephen Byrne

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Mera: Tidebreaker by Danielle Paige and Stephen Byrne

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Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Teens don't have to know anything of DC's Aquaman mythology to jump on with this opening salvo in their books for this market. But this evidence suggests a lot of eager consumption of the volumes to come.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: April 2019
Publisher: DC Comics
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781401283391

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Meet Mera. She's the latest in a line of young women intent on fighting against their intended destiny for one only they can see for themselves. Her father, the king of Xebel, sees some cotton wool and a hunky man in an arranged marriage as her future – after all, Mera's mother, the territory's warrior queen, is long dead. Mera doesn't fancy the cosseting or the fella involved at all, and is in fact trying to get Xebel out from under the cosh of Atlantean power, for Xebel's royalty are merely puppets of Atlantean masters. So when she overhears her father request that her intended goes to the world of us air-breathing humans, and kill the Atlantis heir, she rushes off to get the quest (and the promised throne) all for herself. But of course, she has no idea what kind of person she will meet, and how hard it will be to get the job done…

Build-up and expectation has been high for this, the first ever book in DC's new Ink imprint, of original graphic novels for the young teen audience. We knew it was coming for almost a year, and cynics were doubting how they could make the frankly bland and unengaging world of Atlantis fresh enough, when all the adult comics concerning Aquaman and so on were a bit, well, meh. But still, I think hope was there that with their story-telling expertise, someone within DC could come up with something suitable for the teen audience and provide a worthwhile entertainment.

And luckily enough, they do that in spades. Mera, having never been in the world of air-breathers before, is actually nice to see as a fish out of water, goggling at candy-floss, struggling to comprehend the evil on the TV news, not used to gay male couples kissing on the boardwalk (although she's certainly not surprised, and reading between the lines she may well be a little homosexual herself). And of course when it comes to her intended target, well – she reels him in perfectly well only to find herself struggling to land the catch – indeed, she soon comes to see him as a most unusual fish indeed.

All this is presented in a wonderful manner. The whole book – not just the sub-aquatic scenes – is in this gentle, almost goth-seeming green wash, which really makes Mera's red hair ping. There is some subtle blue here and there, and that's it for the palette, but it makes the whole book utterly distinctive and pleasant to see – heck, it looks better than any DC adult comic I can remember.

Other observations aren't criticism at all, really – it seemed a bit rum that the long-lost Prince of Atlantis could be found by his intended enemy so easily, and a mystery then why he hadn't been a target before; and some unnecessary costume changes for Mera towards the end are a bizarre decision. One possible negative is that this is a little too slushy to be a favourite of a teen lad, but the female audience will certainly lap this up, and of interest to any gender is the subtle way the book explores the ageless teen angst about how their parents treat them. It was a well put together graphic novel, and the teams behind DC Ink's future monthly launches already have a high tidemark, sorry, benchmark, to hit.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

To reiterate, you can file this next to prose books from this author, like Stealing Snow, but every month in 2019 a different franchise from the DC world gets rebooted for the teenaged DC Ink readership. If they match this in readability and visual appeal they'll all sit proud together.

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