Aquaman, Mera, and their Aquababy, Pt. 2Posted: 11/25/2014
As we left off last time, Aquaman and Mera’s son died in a horrible oxygen/reverse-drowning tragedy. Today, we get to see two parents adjust to the loss of their child, so spoiler alert: it’s going to be a bummer. But I want you to focus on why I bring this story up: the frustrating nature in which Aquaman’s coping skills vary tremendously with Mera’s — Aquaman’s proud kingly mourning versus the insane irrational rage Mera exhibits.
Look, I don’t do outrage very well. I don’t like any Facebook political statuses, I don’t chide anyone who says offensive stuff, and I try to live my life through a self-defeated wall of shrugging apathy. I’m doing this as a favor to Modern Mythologies just so I can further get their name out as one of my favorite (and enviable) comic book blogs. To be fair, I crave attention and I’ll do practically anything anyone e-mails me about, and while I don’t want to take any wind from the sail of Amnesty International‘s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign — which is deadly serious and absolutely needs proper awareness — this is not the type of article I’m particularly good at. So you and I are going to work together for the next two articles. I’ll do my best to point out the differences in Aquaman versus Mera and you’ll do your best to understand why Mera’s being unfairly portrayed, how this relates to women in comic book universes, and what you should do to solve this problem. I know I’m asking way more of you than me, but I already did my part a year ago in my article Nothing romantic about Harley Quinn & Joker. We’re even now, right? Please?
We jump to Aquaman’s solo series for a solo Mera story. Aquababy’s on life support.
Impossible mission cliché aside, Mera’s more powerful than Aquaman. She’s stronger than him, faster than him, tougher than him, and she can even make constructs of water (like a wet Green Lantern ring). What’s Vulko complaining about Mera not being able to handle it? She’s a superhero. She fights bad guys for a living — think of her more of Xena: Warrior Princess than Queen Elizabeth. Vulko’s just being rude. I mean, anything Aquaman can do, Mera can do better. Except peeing standing up. Or summon fish. Or join the Justice League.
The cover of Aquaman #62 is that super famous one I’m sure you’ve seen before. It’s when covers were not just pictures of the starring superhero lying unconscious in front of a sneering adversary. No, they had stuff like words on them to unnecessarily increase the melodrama to an uncomfortable level of disbelief. Also, this is the point where Mera starts to lose it. Watch the difference between her and her husband.
So why’s Mera the one going crazy and not Aquaman? Let’s knock out all the reasons. First, DC superheroes don’t have flaws (except Batman who has enough for the rest of them). Aquaman lacks the character weaknesses necessary for him to go emotionally off-the-wall. Seriously, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman — they don’t have the crippling personality issues that Marvel’s superheroes do, and DC (somewhat appropriately) places their superheroes high above both the morality and physicality of normal people. It’s the definition of a superhero. Second, imagine if Aquaman threatened to kill his wife. Blamed her for killing their child. Began to strangle her. His series would be cancelled overnight now much less in the 1970s. It has to be his supporting cast — and a female — if domestic abuse is to be tolerated by readers.
Now take that previous scene and compare it to Aquaman’s mourning method.
The only difference is that despite Aquaman’s incredible surge of emotions, he doesn’t lose control. Nope, he’s the Eminem of underwater ocean kings who dress like seaweed. For our ending today (everything goes to hell next time) — there’s only one thing that upsets me about their (brief) reconciliation: Aquaman never apologizes. He never so much as admits a fraction of regret that Aquababy’s death was his fault. That Mera’s fragile emotional state was somewhat caused by his actions. That he did anything but act as the most perfect superhero of all time. Even Superman feels guilt, and he’s practically a god.
I’m stopping here because so does Aquaman’s solo series (after the finale next issue) for eleven years. The divorce of Aquaman and Mera due to her irrational behavior takes a decade break between stories. Next time, we time warp to 1989, riding the dark gray flood of grit and misery that so defined that era of comics. Sorry for a second time.