Saturday, October 29, 2005


Mera. Do you love or hate her?

Mera was introduced into the Aquaman mythos rather cheesily, I'd say (Action 517-519). She came from a previously unmentioned, insufficiently explained, and never again explored "other dimension" where she was the princess/queen. Through some Silver Agey "science as magic", she came to Earth and suckered Aquaman into leading an extradimensional political rebellion to regain her throne. Then she immediately abandoned her throne to shack up with the big A, cut off from her dimension for a comic book forever (meaning, until a writer needs her to go back).

A clumsy and forced introduction! I assume the writers wanted to introduce a romantic interest / female counterpart for Aquaman. They figured to be appropriate for him, she'd have to be a royal waterbreather, but since there were no other royals in Atlantis and no other cities under the sea ... . Read the fine print in the "Post-Crisis Universe Declaration": There is only one universe in the DC Universe (except for the antimatter universe, and any other dimensions required by the origins of particular characters, such as Mera, the runaway bride from Dimension Glub-Blub).

They cleverly gave her a power that was complementary to Aquaman's (her "hard water" powers, a form of hydrokinesis, explained casually as "something everyone is her dimension has"). Too many dynasties have members whose powers are too similar to those of the Dynastic Centerpiece. It wasn't a problem in the Batman Dynasty, where there were differences of style and degree among the members. But it was a big headache for Superman, who had to compete with a teenage girl, a dog, a monkey, and a city full of ant-sized relatives all with the same Nth level of Superpowerfullosity. You can say Superman is stronger than they are, but when they can all move planets, break the time barrier, and shrug off any attack, it has little practical meaning.

So the writers were smart (still are) in giving Aquaman companions with different abilities. Unfortunately, over time, Mera's powers began to seem less like a complement and more like competition. Aquaman could summon a sea tortoise to ram you; Mera could crush you (and the tortoise) where you swam using a giant water hand. Who do you pick for your team at recess?

Then they had a baby who could do the same thing. Right after he's born, "Aquababy" kicks Aquaman's butt with a water-construct. Sentiment be darned; Aquaman was about to be shown up by a toddler; as if he didn't have enough trouble getting respect already! "Hello, Black Manta? This is Editorial; we have an assignment for you. No, no, you're gonna love this one...."

Babies are always trouble in comic books. We can overlook adults who don't age, even kid sidekicks who don't age. But babies? Do know when Arthur Jr. was born? October 1965. You know he died, still as a toddler? July 1977. I don't care how you feel about Aquaman; he shouldn't have to help change diapers for 12 years (under water).

This is why comic book babies are always magically aged, hidden until they are semi-adult, killed, or hypertimed into nothingness. And if you don't believe that, then you throw a little Kinderparty for Aquababy, Cerdian, Metamorpho's baby, Plastic Man's son, Lana Lang's baby, Perry White's son, Power Girl's baby, Arsenal's daughter, and Donna Troy's baby, and see who shows up. Some day, Wally's twins (once they disappear) will band all the Limbo Babies together into a Milkcarton Brigade that the WB can animate and air right after the Baby Looney Toons.

Anyway, Aquababy's demise began Mera's "Crazy-Ass Hydroharpy" Era. Mera goes crazy. Mera can't exist in our dimension any more. Mera goes crazy again. Mera is kidnapped to another other dimension. Mera goes crazier. Mera is enslaved by sorcerors. Mera needs a face lift. Mera can't breath water any more.

Mera's your basic needy ex, isn't she?

And yet....

She's a fabulous underwater "drag queen" like some fans like, complete with tiara, lip-syncing hard water action, and enormous red hair. She's Wet Phoenix, Submarine Maxima, Underwater MJ, , Bathospherian Batgirl, Aquatic Knockout, and the Looker of the Sea. Remember, blondes are supportive but ineffective allies; brunettes don't know your secret identity; black haired girls are seductive enemies; redheads are fiery troublesome love interests. That's just how life is, folks.

Thanks to Mera, Aquaman was the first hero to get married and the first to have a child, and those were part of what distinguished him from other heroes. Heck, he was the first one to even have a functioning on-going romantic relationship (until Mera started going wacko weekly). And now that she's being written sympathetically and removed from the water (making her powers irrelevant), she's starting to grow on me. I don't hate her any longer, but I don't love her yet. If they're sensible enough to leave her as Arthur's ex and not try to get them together (again!), she could be a fun and unique character.

What do YOU think of Mera?

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I've always liked Mera, but I don't think anyone really ever explored any of her potential. She's just been, in recent years, set dressing or a plot device for Aquaman.
I think it's amazing that someone else remembered Perry White's son. Not the dead one, Jerry, who was actually Lex Luthor's kid (long before Superboy got retconned), but Keith White, the one Perry and Alice adopted.

Speaking of which, anyone seen Lena Luthor lately?
Hm ...
maybe in daycare with
Lucy Lane's baby?
Does the Aquaman/Mera relationship actually precede the Hawkman/Hawkgirl one? Because I'd say that Katar/Shiera were the pinnacle of the functioning DC romantic relationship until The Truman Period (Tim, not Harry).

Even if Hawkman was a bit of a drip.
Mera was one of my favorite characters until Aquababy died and then writers turned her into whatever type of crazy harpy was needed to get the story rolling.

I'd prefer to see her brought back full strength as Aquaman's wife with the bouts of craziness and possibly even birth and death of Aquababy brushed aside as non-canonical in the post Infinite Crisis world.

However, I'd settle for the total elimination of the character if I can't be guaranteed getting a normal, rational Mera.
I think Aquaman's attraction to Mera (pre-Crisis, of course) shows that he takes after his dad. His father was a lighthouse keeper who fell in love with an exiled Atlantean princess; i.e. a beautiful woman from another world. So it took someone equally exotic and alien to win Arthur Curry's heart, namely a queen from another dimension. Makes perfect sense to me.
Was it ever established who the dad was of Power Girl's kid, or was that Zero Houred out? Wasn't it supposed to be Hal or Arthur? A horrible idea on so many levels, though: having a baby would make her more of a Power Woman, which is an even worse name. Moreover, Kara's supposed to be a sex object no one gets to have sex with, because she's saving it for you, big boy...
Power Girl's Baby was a plot device in one of those extremely annoying 'heroine impregnated by being from another dimension to enable itself to be born into that dimension and unleash EVIL'.

I forget his exact name, but the whole thing was connected into the 'Arion connection' phase of her origins.

During the decline and fall of JLA Volume 2.
Mera is in the 'ex-girlfriend turned supervillian' category, mostly. Which would be one of the categories on the other rungs of villiany, the one for the people who aren't in it for the money but to settle grudges and the like. The other major members of this category are Francis Kane and Carol Ferris. And, I suppose, Jean Loring.

(Cheshire doesn't count, since she was a supervillian before she was ever an ex-girlfriend.)

Keep Mera there, and she works out.
Isn't Iris West, from that Crisis epilogue (and various other stories) one of Wally's twins? They obviously needed to plant her in continuity for something upcoming...
Carol Ferris! Holy crap, wait wait! Star Sapphire had a baby too! Oh merciful Lordy yes she did. Even this blog's readership has mercifully been able to forget! They must have an excellent stash of Amnesium(tm). And the DC editorship absolutely did, because they cranked out a new ill-starred pregnancy every, what? every three years on average, and never learned jack from any of the previous ghastly outcomes.
Memory: not always a blessing.
Very worthwhile piece of writing, thank you for this article.
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