'Mera: Tidebreaker' Review: A Perfect Introduction to a Warrior Queen

The story of Mera has been told in several ways over the years, but few if any have managed to capture the character for a modern age quite like Mera: Tidebreaker. Tidebreaker is the first graphic novel from DC Comics' DC Ink imprint, and author Danielle Page and artist Stephen Byrne present a compelling mix of the relatable and epic throughout the book's 186 pages. If you're a longtime fan of Mera, your appreciation will only grow, and if you're new to the character, this is by far the best introduction you could ask for.

Paige hits the pivotal beats Mera fans will recognize from comics past, as the daughter of King Neureas is opposed to being married off to someone simply for political gain. Paige's Mera isn't a trope of a rebellious princesses that have come before, however. She's much more nuanced than that, and her wishes to be understood by her father, live up to her mother's legacy, and not be relegated to a trophy spouse at someone's side all feel genuine and organic despite the larger-than-life circumstances (she is trying to assassinate a prince after all).

This is aided greatly by the supporting cast around her. Mera's father is depicted as much more than the simplified version we've seen in other stories, and Hikara and Pilan are just as essential to giving Mera a variety of opportunities in which to grow. Pilan and Hikara's advice helps Mera to trust her instincts, and it pays dividends as Mera is exposed to new revelations in this storyline but never seems overwhelmed by the task. A character can have their beliefs questioned and proven wrong without losing themselves in the process, and Paige's Mera is a perfect and welcome example of that in action.

(Photo: DC Ink)

The handling of the suitor, Larkin, is also a welcome change. Paige adds another layer to this would be romance through their previous friendship, turning a potentially one-dimensional form of opposition into a three-dimensional character. Larkin's feelings toward Mera feel genuine, though so do his flaws, as he struggles against the man he used to be and the man he's become.

OK, all of that said, we've waited long enough to gush about illustrator Stephen Byrne and colorist David Calderon's absolutely stunning artwork. This is hands down one of the best-looking graphic novels we've ever seen, as Mera, Arthur, and the rest of this cast is bathed in a mostly monochromatic palette -- all save for Mera's vibrant red hair. It captures your eye immediately and never lets go, and somehow things only get better when we head into the sea and one memorable dive into it specifically. There's such a liveliness to the undersea life, and we'd pay to just see Byrne and Calderon take on a Mera or Aquaman book full time if this is what's in store.

(Photo: DC Ink)

Speaking of Aquaman, it's hard not to mention Arthur here, as he's a pivotal part of the narrative from both a plot perspective as well as a Mera perspective. Arthur's innate goodness shines through here, but we also see him challenged on several fronts, confronting not only his destiny but also long-hidden truths that would shake anyone. It's here that you truly see the elements and traits the two bring out in each other, though it's made clear that each one can function just fine without the other, the just enjoy life much more together.

That's the key thing with Mera: Tidebreaker; this book is all about having choices, and what happens when some attempt to take those choices away. Do you fold and let others define your path, or do you forge a new one all your own, taking your life and destiny into your own hands? Mera is a warrior, sure, but she's also someone who will never let someone else define her, and is a reminder of what every hero should be.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Published by DC Ink, an imprint under DC Comics

On April 2, 2019

Written by Danielle Paige

Illustrated by Stephen Byrne


Colored by David Calderon

Lettered by Joshua Reed