With a successful Aquaman movie in 2018, it’s not surprising that DC Comics would choose to feature Mera as the inaugural book in its DC Ink line dedicated to the teen audience. Teens who are curious about the movie character will undoubtedly pick up Mera Tidebreaker to learn more.

What they will find is a teenage Mera struggling to find her place in the Xebellian royal court. Her father is king, but all of Xebel is under the rule of Atlantis. Mera is secretly responsible for defaming the symbols of Atlantis around her home city of Xebel. Her actions are hot-headed and they result in consequences for her friends and family. Soon, she hatches a plan to seek out the heir to the Throne of Atlantis and kill him so that Xebel can reestablish its independence. Mera travels to the surface to find Arthur, the son of Queen Atlanna, to kill him herself. Yet she finds a kind, thoughtful and strong young man who isn’t the tyrant she thinks he is. He doesn’t even know he is Atlantean. Can Mera become a killer to protect her home? This becomes the central question of the tale as Mera explores what it means to be a warrior and a queen.

Young adult author Danielle Paige ably creates an underwater world with political intrigue and diverse characters which is not the Atlantis we normally see in Aquaman comics. Mera is depicted as a strong young woman who is finding her footing. Yet, I also found her Arthur to be quite appealing in his own right. He was not the headstrong Arthur that we know from the comics, but a thoughtful, kind young man with a strong moral compass. His dark hair alone sets him apart from the blond Aquaman we are used to. Paige succeeds in establishing a connection between Mera and Arthur. The reader is rooting for their relationship by the end of the book.

Artist Stephen Byrne has a consistent, appealing style that conveys the idea that this is a comic directed at teens. It’s not as detailed as a typical comic and the lines are cleaner too. The colorist, David Calderon, makes the book stand out as all the pages have a slightly bluish hue as if you are underwater. All the colors are variations of blue except for Mera’s and her father’s red hair, which is striking. Even a giant crab misses out on the red coloring.

Most public and school libraries with comic sections devoted to teens will want to add this to their collection. Hopefully, mixing YA authors with superhero characters will be a winning gamble for DC, but only time will tell.

Mera Tidebreaker
By Danielle Paige
Art by Stephen Byrne
ISBN: 9781401283391
DC, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: Teen

  • Mark

    | He/Him Young Adult Librarian, Cedar Mill Library

    Reviewer

    Mark Richardson is the Young Adult Librarian at the Cedar Mill Library in Portland Oregon where he selects adult and young adult graphic novels, YA fiction & nonfiction, video games and adult music for the library. He also plans lots of activities for local teens ranging from art contests to teen trivia to Pokemon parties. If this sounds like a dream job, it is. Sometimes he has to pinch himself to make sure he really gets to do all of this. He’s been reading comics for as long as he can remember and has been known to present an occasional conference sessions on graphic novels at the Oregon Library Association’s annual conference.

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