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From Xebel to Atlantis: The Origins of Mera, Aquaman’s Queen

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The World of Atlantis wouldn’t be complete today without his Queen, Mera. As the wife of Aquaman, Mera has lived many adventures undersea and on land, showing what a formidable force she represents in the DC Universe.

Mera possesses the ability to control and manipulate water, showcasing strength and durability. She stands as a formidable superheroine in her own right, although she hasn’t consistently received such recognition since her debut over 60 years ago.

Mera, Queen of Dimension Aqua

During his first two decades, Aquaman swam in the sea mostly alone. While he had occasional companionship, there was no one with whom he could truly share his adventures.

The situation changed in the sixties when the Silver Age was in full swing, and Arthur Curry found himself battling monsters, sea creatures, aliens, and sorcerers. He was first joined by a boy he called Aqualad.

Then, the powers at DC Comics believed that cute creatures appealed to young readers. In February 1962, inspired by the well-known Bat-Mite, Quisp was introduced in Aquaman #1. This tiny imp from the fifth dimension shared several adventures with Aquaman and Aqualad. If you have forgotten all about Quisp, no one will blame you, as the imp discreetly vanished after the introduction of a certain red-haired woman in a green jumpsuit.

Created by writer Jack Miller and artist Nick Cardy, Mera made her first appearance in Aquaman #11 as a damsel in distress. To be more specific, Mera was crowned Queen of Dimension Aqua following the death of her father before being forced into exile by the warlord Leron. She fled to Earth, where she met Aquaman and Aqualad. Aided by Quisp and Aqualad, Aquaman saves Mera and defeats Leron.

While Mera returned to her kingdom at the end of this issue, she made her comeback quickly with issue #13 and became a regular. Together, they made history in Aquaman #18 by having the first major superhero wedding shown on-panel.

Since then, Mera and Arthur’s whirlwind affair has always been part of Aquaman, though Mera stayed in the shadows of her superhero partner for many decades, when she wasn’t missing or in an asylum or busy somewhere else.

The most important development affecting Mera happened during the past 15 years.

Cover for Aquaman #11, the first issue with Mera

Mera’s Origin Story

For a significant time, Mera’s backstory was only loosely hinted at. Pre-Crisis, she was the refugee queen from Dimension Aqua, escaping an usurper. Her origin was only fully explored in 2010’s Brightest Day, later revisited in Secret Origins Vol 3 #5.

Mera grew up in the aquatic realm of Xebel, an old Atlantean penal colony, born to King Ryus and his wife. Orphaned at an early age, and raised by her father, and was close to her grandmother, Lammia, who trained sea animals for Xebelian wars. Under the guidance of Leron, her father’s primary taskmaster, Mera received training as an assassin. She was also instructed in the royal art of hydrokinesis.
 
Her story took a turn when, as a young adult, she was promised to marry military chief Nereus. Before this union, Mera was tasked by her father to assassinate the King of Atlantis. She embarked on a vengeful mission, but encountering Aquaman changed everything. Upon reaching the surface, Mera discovered that Arthur Curry/Aquaman was not the tyrant she believed but a hero. Falling in love with him, she chose to follow her mother’s final advice – forging her own path rather than blindly following Xebel’s orders. She then Deliberately maintained her cover story as her past to avoid friction with Aquaman.
 
Since then, Mera has spent her life reconciling Xebelian hatred for Atlantis with her own personal love for Aquaman.
 
Aquaman (Vol. 8) #10 Variant Cover by Joshua Middleton

Mera: Recommended Reading

As Mera didn’t receive noticeable development for a long time, there are not a lot of vintage Aquaman stories to recommend. You can still dive into the classic wedding issue (Aquaman #18), read about the birth of her son (Aquaman #22-23), and then dive into the Death of a Prince storyline (especially issues #58–60) where Mera embarks on a quest after the kidnapping of her child by Black Manta.

Despite being a Green Lantern event, Mera started to have a more prominent role and be explored in the Blackest Night/Brightest Day, written by Geoff Johns. Following this event, the writer became Aquaman’s main writer during New 52, continuing to give material to Mera.

But if you have to read only one run for Mera, it’s without a doubt Aquaman Rebirth by Dan Abnett where she shares a more equal billing with Arthur during this time. The character even finally has her own miniseries during that period!

Finally, for an out-of-continuity story, you can read Bombshells.

Last Updated on March 15, 2024.

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