[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
Aquaman is held captive at a place called the Blood Reef by the Ocean Lords, made up of sea gods of three worlds: Fleet Admiral Tyyde, Captain Gall, and Commander Drogue. Each were imprisoned away from their worlds by Poseidon eons ago, and now they seek vengeance upon the Earth. They are responsible for the flood and the monsters it’s creating. On Earth, Batman, Superman, the Flash, and Miss Martian are heading the rescue efforts across the world. The Justice League, its reserve members, and the Titans are doing everything they can. Mera has released Ocean Master in the hopes that he can help her save Atlantis and the world. Back in the Blood Reef, we discover who brought the Ocean Lords to Earth.
Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth #1 is the official start to the Drowned Earth story, despite it seeming to kick off already in the last issues of Justice League, Aquaman, and Titans.
This book has a price bump for the occasion, but I will give it credit in how much content is actually within this book. It’s fairly lengthy and will likely take you at least 10 minutes to read (especially if you do the right thing and appreciate the Howard Porter art).
That said, the first half is mostly recapping what we already know about the Drowned Earth story if you’ve read Justice League #10 and Aquaman #41. Admittedly, that may not be the case for everyone, but this is one of those crossovers that takes place across titles and not in a single miniseries, so I can’t see following this tale unless you’re reading Justice League and/or Aquaman on the regular.
It does a good job of showing how desperate a situation it is, but some of this is down with a lot of telling instead of showing. We don’t see Superman trying to get into the invading ships; he just mentions that he couldn’t get through their magic barriers. We don’t see other powerful heroes like Shazam, Firestorm, or any Green Lanterns (we see Simon Baz in one of the panels) trying to fight back; you just have to assume they tried.
In the back half, though, things start happening. We see the person who brought the Ocean Lords to earth, we see Mera and Ocean Master team up again (previously done in Mera: Queen of Atlantis), and we get to see the Ocean Lords clash with the Justice League.
Howard Porter does a good job of bringing this tale to life, especially on the splash pages spread throughout the comic. In the past, Porter art has had the problem of making characters’ bodies look a bit misshapen, but that doesn’t happen here. He puts in some great work and is backed up well by the vibrant color art of Hi-Fi.
Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth #1 is a hardy and solid read. The first half is mostly recap, but the second half brings it home to be a solidly entertaining read. If you’re following Aquaman, Justice League, or are just in the mood for a big DC crisis that isn’t that other one, then feel free to check this one out.
Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth #1 comes to us from writer James Tynion IV, artist Howard Porter, color artist Hi-Fi, letterer Tom Napolitano, cover artist Howard Porter with Hi-Fi, and variant cover artist Francis Manapul.