The Justice League is trying to save the planet from the alien water transforming every man, woman, and child into sea creatures. However, alien gods seem more powerful than the heroes and even Aquaman falls before them. Meanwhile Mera, assisted by Orm, the Ocean Master is trying to escape from Atlantis. Can they recover the secret of how Arion defeated the alien gods previously?
I did not expect to enjoy this crossover and mini-series. Crossover fatigue is a thing and this one feels fresh – pun intended. I will, however, get my criticisms out of the way now. The concept of the entire Earth being flooded was briefly explored last year in Batman the Drowned, early Justice League issues during the New 52, and many times in Namor the Submariner since the Golden Age of comics. My problem with this new water-based invasion is the sheer effect it would have on a world to be submerged for days. Everything would be destroyed. All electronics, books, cars, toasters, linen. And what about animal life on the planet? Are they also transformed?
Some comics take their time to explore the ramifications of such events. Here, no such effort is at play. Only the cool factor matters, and all of the annoying questions are swept away bey the tide. And that is the problem of this latest epic. It lacks believability even though it is very enticing and fun to read. During Crisis, some of the effects of the Crisis on regular folks was shown. In fact, Crisis affected many people. I remember a sequence in Crisis #5 where an old couple saw a young woman from their vantage point in Earth One. She was from Earth Two and was equally shocked to see them. Yes, there are scenes with regular folks changing into sea monsters. However, because we know this is not permanent and that eventually all things will be resolved, and the water will leave, there is a lack of immediacy and engagement with the story. In the current Nightwing series, we know that the water and the aliens have left as it must occur a few months in the future.
I like Howard Porter, but he does tend to make people, even kids look ugly by over rendering the illustrations he draws. There is always a lot of dynamism and care in his work. He takes his time to render things and people, but I feel that sometimes it may be too much of a good thing and it ruins what would be an excellent piece, if there were more restraints in how much he draws.
No matter how much I like the story, it does not feel like it really matters and that it will affect Aquaman or planet Earth for long. An important note, DC Comics needs to simplify the way it titles some of its books. It is becoming complicated to follow. I gave up on Witching Hours, and trying t read that series in order. I skipped it instead. Whoever in marketing thinks that Justice League Aquaman Drowned Earth is a great title and necessary for readers to understand that it is a Justice League and an Aquaman book is thinking that we, even casual readers are idiots. They are making the books more impenetrable with such long titles that do not let us know in a moment what we are getting.