By Kelly Gaines
Welcome to Game of Thrones: Atlantis. If you've needed some incestuous relationships and trial by combat to hold you over until GOT's final season, you're in luck. Mera's path to a throne she did not even originally want has gotten exponentially harder, and the new complications make a solid case for why royal lineages simply don't work. Mera: Queen of Atlantis has reached its fifth installment of the six-part series. For those of you that have been buckled into DC's resident fairy-tale, the approaching ending is bittersweet. It's been a dramatic and beautifully written ride, and on a personal level, I'm very excited to see how they wrap up this side narrative in the Aquaman mythos.
As expected, Orm isn't exactly the ally Mera had hoped he'd be. At the urging of Nereus, Orm decides to make his position on the throne of Atlantis a condition of Xebel's assistance. Mera is blindsided, but not as much as Erin and Tommy are sure to be. Poor, poor Erin and Tommy. This isn't exactly a 'dad went out for a pack of smokes and never came back' story, this is a 'dad went out to fight an underwater battle to help his estranged brother and decided he wanted to be king instead' story- and somehow that feels more fucked up. To add an extra layer of 'not okay' to this cake of fucked up'ed-ness, Orm intends to strengthen his claim to the throne and alliance with Xebel by marriage- specifically, marriage to his sister Tula. Yeah. Not okay. Not okay and gross. It makes all of the encouragement Tula has been giving Erin to trust in Orm's faithfulness heartbreaking. Never mind the fact that Tula is dead set against marrying Orm. This is not Game of Thrones for her; it's normal world creepy. Mera, as not only the rightful queen and a good friend, decides to defend Tula in the only way she knows how- Trial by Combat. Mera will fight to the death for Tula's freedom and her claim to the Atlantean throne. Where does this leave Erin and Tommy? Screwed. In either outcome, it doesn't look like their beloved patriarch is ever coming home.
Mera: Queen of Atlantis has raised a lot of questions about morality and duty. As human beings, how do we decide what is and is not the right thing to do? If our personal happiness and heart conflicts with our sworn duty, how do we make a heroic call? The answer is a grey area. Mera betrayed her people and her given mission for love, a decision that has made her a hero in the DC Universe. Orm's relationship with Erin and the new leaf he had seemingly turned over also offered the character some redemption. But what about now? Yes, marrying his sister is beyond creepy and gross, and leaving Erin and Tommy behind is a massive dick move, but if his motives truly come from concern for Atlantis and his people there's a chance he's being a hero here in his own way. Orm genuinely does not believe Mera is the best leader, and yet he agreed to join her in a quest to Xebel anyway out of love for his homeland. Now he's been granted the chance to not only come to Atlantis' rescue but also become the leader he thinks they need. The problem is that this new path to the throne will cost him the love of his life and ruin his relationship with his sister. So, if Mera is not the bad guy here and neither is Orm, that leaves one puppet master tangling the complex strings: Nereus. The king of Xebel is being a class A jerk by aggravating the tension between Mera and Orm, and his guidance may cost Orm not only his happiness but also his life. If Mera has to fight her way out, she will. Unfortunately, this may make Orm collateral damage to defending her title and saving Tula.
Mera has been a painless read thus far. The story is clear and easy to follow even for readers who are not reading the current run of Aquaman. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Mera: Queen of Atlantis is worth the read. There's still time to catch up before the grand finale, and if you've been following Aquaman, this title may be the perfect lead into the next epic battle.
Mera: Queen of Atlantis #5