What’s Apocalyptic Prophecy Between Friends?
Cover:Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessy & Gabe Eltaeb
On Sale Date: November 2, 2016
**NON SPOILERS AND SCORE AT THE BOTTOM**
Good day, undesirables. My name is Mother Cetera and I am supposed to welcome you to the Tower of the Widowhood. Unfortunately, I am not accustomed to welcoming vile pieces of excrement, so you find me at a social disadvantage. You are attending classes in the Tower designed to transform you from putrid urchins into respectable young ladies that can comport themselves within civilized Atlantean society. Frankly, I am quite concerned. I do not think this feat can be performed successfully for the majority of you gathered before me today. I have half a mind to send this class to the military academy to become fodder for the churning war machine. For the time being, read this review of Aquaman #10 where the Tower of the Widowhood attempts to change a low-class strumpet into a woman fit for royalty. Are we successful? Don’t ask stupid questions, girls, read the review and find out yourselves.
Here’s the thing about prophecies: they nearly always foresee doom. You rarely hear about a prophecy about unending peace and unlimited candy. It’s always like “ten horrific demons shall visit your home, each smellier than the last.” So it is with the visions stirred by Seer-Sister Nerid at the Tower of the Widowhood, which portend the fall of Atlantis and King Arthur (Curry) at the hands of Mera’s people, the Xebels. Yeah, but I want to know about the wedding presents. Do they get that Panini press Arthur just had to put on the registry? Seems this prophecy has not only to do with the eradication of Atlantis, but the destruction of the entire world as a result of the Deluge! Which we know as a pro-Atlantean terrorist group but in reality is just a noun so it’s not like they “own” it. Strange thing about Nerid’s vision, though: it’s also a generally-known Atlantean myth, and indeed the terrorist organization named themselves after the story. So this is just a scam like those late 19th century séances, right? I mean, you can’t rightly psychically predict a fable.
Mera ain’t having it, though, and yells at Mother Cetea for buying into such nonsense. Cetea Tells Mera that this is nothing personal against her Xebelian heritage—it’s more the red hair that she doesn’t trust. And this is why they had her tested, uh, by way of having Sister Nebris see a vision in some glowing coral. Look, it’s not like they’ve developed a foolproof test, here! A potential Xebel Queen doesn’t come up every six months, you know. Sister Nebris says a bunch of cryptic phrases that will become pertinent later on, and then…Mera and Mother Cetea have the same conversation again, for some reason. It’s a sort of collapsed version of the one they just had, but Cetea tells Mera it’s nothing personal, Mera acts all angry about it…and the outcome is pretty much the same. I’m not sure why they decided to have the same conversation two times in a row, maybe there was a pregnant pause in the conversation and one of them just blurted something out to break the awkward silence. Point is, Mera’s none too happy about being fingered as the harbinger of the planet’s demise, so she swims to the surface to get away from these crusty old crones.
She heads to the lighthouse at Amnesty Bay, since this apparently is the only location on the surface that Atlanteans ever visit. There, a few incidents seem to align with the creepy shit Sister Nebris was saying, and then she finds a note to Arthur asking him to come to Boston to have dinner and also share some dire secrets. I love this touch, by the way, that Aquaman gets his mail at the lighthouse, because of course he does. Mera decides to meet the letter writer in Arthur’s stead, and finds it’s none other than her old pal, Lieutenant Joanna Stubbs of the Royal British Navy! Between bites of shrimp, she tells Mera that this whole business with the Deluge and Aquaman is being engineered by N.E.M.O., that surreptitious nautical organization now led by Black Manta. Just then, a N.E.M.O.-hired assassin tries to blow the both of them away, but Mera is eventually able to subdue him, so he drops some super mine that takes Mera’s attention and allows him to escape. Mera says Aquaman is going to have kittens when he heard about this mess, and that’s when Stubbs says she thought Mera arrived because Arthur couldn’t—and so is the first to tell her that Arthur fell into a coma after a calamitous fight with Shaggy Man in the last issue!
You might think that an issue consisting of all Mera would turn me off, but you would be wrong. I liked this issue and the further exploration of Mera’s attachment to Arthur, as well as some more explanation as to why those bitches in the Widowhood are so mean to her. It was also cool to see Lt. Stubbs brought back into the mix (I was actually just beginning to wonder about her) and move the story along a little. It’s unfortunate that this advance happened largely due to Mera learning things we already knew, but it’s still a big step towards some kind of conflict. I didn’t love the duplicated dialogue in the early part of the book, but it was only two pages so it’s not like it broke my heart. The artwork on this series continues to be phenomenal, this week handled by Brad Walker. A two-part action story about Aquaman fighting a giant Sasquatch followed by a one-off containing more exposition and explanation…this feels like a comfortable publishing formula to me. I hope the book continues in these more incremental, shorter arcs.
Bits and Pieces:
A very Mera-centric issue that provides some answers and serves to humanize those Mean Girls at the Tower of the Widowhood. The return of a not-disliked character is pleasant, if inconsequential, and this issue directly continues the story from previous issues--but can be read as a standalone! It's a one-off! This doesn't look like it will be some bloated tale, padded out for the trade collection! It's the dawn of a new day, my fellow comics enthusiasts! The 5-7 issue story arc is defeated!