In the spectacular finale to “Drowned Earth,” the battle for Earth’s oceans – and Earth itself – reaches its climax, and it falls to Arthur Curry to make the ultimate sacrifice!

AQUAMAN JUSTICE LEAGUE DROWNED EARTH SPECIAL #1

Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Howard Porter, Francis Manapul, Scott Godlewski
Colorist: Hi-Fi, Manapul
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: November 28, 2018

Previously in Justice League: The Sea Gods have returned to Earth and they are, to say the least, rather peeved. Not only did they bring an armada, but they’ve done something to the oceans – anyone who comes into contact with them is turned into an aquatic monster. Aquaman and Wonder Woman come face to face with Poseidon, who confesses that, ages ago, he did not want to share the Life Force he had been given, and created instead of the Tear of Extinction. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Legion of Doom has also stepped in – they have the Totality, and are working their way through hidden forces, ally with the sea gods, and release the Death Kraken!

A GRAND FINALE INDEED!

Aquaman Justice League Drowned Earth Special #1 is a $4.99 book; it’s also 41 pages, so you’re getting a goodly amount of comics. I have to say, it doesn’t feel like it’s that long, probably because there is so much exciting stuff going on.

We open back in ancient times, with Arion and Asteria, shortly after the towers of Atlantis were built. Arion is hoping that Clarion, his cosmic conch, will call out to other life, and the future will be an era of peace. In the present day, peace is not what we have, as Mera and Superman are the only heroes who haven’t turned into aquatic monsters – even the Flash is starting to turn. The sea gods, (Admiral Tyde, Captain Gall, and Commander Drogue) are cautious, as Mera holds the Tear of Extinction, which can kill them, but Black Manta revels in the fight.

About this time, Wonder Woman and Aquaman return from their visit to Poseidon. Arthur now has a trident from Poseidon, which he can use to strike down the sea gods, or he could, but he believes he knows better. He wants to right the wrongs from eons ago, when Poseidon lied to Arion, and he believes they must launch the towers of Atlantis, and give the trident to the gods.

As if things weren’t bad enough already, this is when the Death Kraken starts coming through the barrier. If it touches the ocean, everything within it will die! Diana volunteers to go under Atlantis to fire the towers – after all, they are part Themysciran in design, so she should be able to figure them out. As she finds the lever she must operate, Cheetah attacks and swipes her with her claws, which have been coated in the Tear of Extinction. As Cheetah monologues exultantly, someone shoots her in the back. It is Batman – his suit is programmed to take him to the team’s leader, and right now, that is Diana. Trust Batman to show up at an appropriately dramatic moment.

Meanwhile, our remaining heroes are fighting the armada, their teammates who have been turned into monsters, and the Kraken. There is a lot of action packed in here. As the towers of Atlantis rise and crash into the Kraken, Arthur tries to communicate with the sea gods. At about this time, Lex Luthor radios Black Manta, saying he’ll teleport him out. Mera urges Arthur to attack, but he tries again to reach out. The Kraken strikes their ship and they fall. The Flash brings them to safety, and Mera realizes that Arthur was right – he must transform the Clarion back.

He is able to do this, but he cannot wield it himself. He is no longer monarch – but she is. It is up to Mera to see the world as it should be, not as it is. (I love this – one of the great tools at a writer’s disposal is the ability to show us how things could be, or should be.) And she does – sharing a vision of lives and civilizations connected. This reaches the sea gods, and as Arthur offers them the trident, which should have been theirs ages ago, they realize he is sincere.

But we still have several pages to go, and Black Manta, who has decided not to retreat, attacks. His blades are also coated with the Tear of Extinction, and he kills the sea gods and tries to take control of the Kraken, which is not part of Lex Luthor’s plans. Admiral Tyde restores Aquaman’s powers, and Manta makes a joke about what good is it that he can talk with fish. In a delightful twist, this becomes incredibly useful, as he can communicate with all the Justice League members who have become aquatic monsters. Still, they are no match for the Kraken, and Arthur realizes that he carries the life force, and the Kraken’s energies are the opposite. He must make the ultimate sacrifice – indeed, he is the only one who can – and he makes his good-byes and saves the world.

There is some wrapping up, as we have a lot of team members to track down yet. No one can find a trace of Aquaman; however, Diana is certain that he is not gone. He was connected to them all by the Life Force, and she did not sense his passing. And indeed, in a final panel, we see him washed up on an unknown shore.

LOVELY, FLOWING ART

Three artists are credited on Aquaman Justice League Drowned Earth Special #1. There are spots where you can tell the artist has changed but it doesn’t detract from the story in the least. Overall, the art is impressive. There is so much happening in this issue, and there are so many interesting characters. I really like the sea monster Justice League members – you can identify them, but each one has their own aquatic quirks.

This is such a huge story, and it includes action in, above, and under the ocean. We get a strong sense of that water throughout, and the coloring complements this as well with a lot of blue and related colors. It makes a lovely contrast for the heroes, especially Mera, who has a big part in this story. Her colors really pop.

I think the use of panels helps keep the pace of the book up. There is a lot of dialogue in it, because there is so much story to get through, and so much backstory to try to connect back to the present day. But it never looks like the old-fashioned wall of text we’ve seen in past ages. A lot of the panels are large – half page, full page, double splash – so there’s plenty of room for exposition and art. The large panels also allow for great detail.

BOTTOM LINE: EXCITING CLOSURE TO DROWNED EARTH

Aquaman Justice League Drowned Earth Special #1 is a thrilling conclusion to the Drowned Earth story arc. There are some great character moments in it, and I really like that this is story where the way to win is not just to punch your way to victory. It’s truly heroic to take chances to try to make amends and stop the fighting once and for all. I like the fact that Aquaman’s communication powers are totally useful, and I think this is also a good set-up for whatever is coming next for Aquaman. If there’s anything I didn’t like, it’s that it seems like there are so many mystical items in play – the Totality, the Tear of Extinction, Clarion, Poseidon’s trident, etc. Mystical items get less special when you have too many of them around.

Aquaman Justice League Drowned Earth #1

87%
87%
Exciting Closure

Aquaman Justice League Drowned Earth Special #1 is a thrilling conclusion to the Drowned Earth story arc. There are some great character moments in it, and I really like that this is story where the way to win is not just to punch your way to victory. It’s truly heroic to take chances to try to make amends and stop the fighting once and for all. I like the fact that Aquaman’s communication powers are totally useful, and I think this is also a good set-up for whatever is coming next for Aquaman. If there’s anything I didn’t like, it’s that it seems like there are so many mystical items in play – the Totality, the Tear of Extinction, Clarion, Poseidon’s trident, etc. Mystical items get less special when you have too many of them around.

  • Writing
    8
  • Art
    9
  • Coloring
    9
  • User Ratings (1 Votes)
    8.4
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About Author

By day, she’s a mild-mannered bureaucrat and Ms. Know-It-All. By night, she’s a dance teacher and RPG player (although admittedly not on the same nights). On the weekends, she may be found judging Magic, playing Guild Wars 2 (badly), or following other creative pursuits. Holy Lack of Copious Free Time, Batman! While she’s always wished she had teleportation as her superpower, she suspects that super-speed would be much more practical because then she’d have time to finish up those steampunk costumes she’s also working on.

1 Comment

  1. Wonderful review! Thank you! I typically avoid events, but between Drowned Earth and Witching Hour I’ve had a lot of fun. They are epic in story-telling but contained enough where you do not need to read a bazillion books. And although there is A LOT going on, there is surprising character development and relationship building. Wonder Woman and Aquaman have always been my favorites since childhood…I love that Aquaman especially (and Mera!!) are getting the love they deserve :)

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