DC's Drowned Earth: A song of grace
DC Comics’s Drowned Earth event comes to a close this week with Aquaman/Justice League: Drowned Earth #1, and it’s a fine conclusion. Scott Snyder, Francis Manapul, Howard Porter, Hi-Fi, and Tom Napolitano all turn in fine work, and here at the end of it, I can say that Drowned Earth is the best event we’ve seen from DC in years.
This one has it all. You like exciting, action-packed battle scenes? How about crazy, murderous beasts being physically held back by mighty heroes? True love? Self-sacrifice? Superman looking like a pirate? I won’t revisit my affection for this run on Justice League in general, because it seems I do that nearly every two weeks over at Batman News, but suffice it to say that this final installment of Drowned Earth delivers yet another outstanding blend of tones, depths, and meanings.
On the surface, this is the sort of wild battle royale that got me—and probably many of you—interested in comics in the first place. The Justice League square off against a multitude of foes, including at least two ridiculously huge ones, and both Francis Manapul and Howard Porter do outstanding work bringing these confrontations to the page. There’s so much going on, and yet we always seem to get a perfect balance of big scope and intimacy.
At its heart, this issue is a love song—a song for Arthur and Mera, but also a song for Atlantis, for the stars, and for redemption. Beneath the highly-entertaining, physical war lies a war of the soul: a struggle between that to which we consider ourselves entitled, and kindness toward those who have made themselves unworthy of it. It is a song of grace—a picture of the deepest sort of love there is: the love of the will, the choice to show love to the unlovely.
Hope. Optimism. Such were the promises of DC Rebirth. Some of us have wondered whether DC have abandoned these promises, because across much of the line, it seems they have. But Drowned Earth has brought to a fine point what Snyder’s Justice League has shown all along: that hope and optimism are still there—that we should never abandon our friends nor write off our enemies.
Heady stuff for a book about super-powered muscle-heads fighting intergalactic monsters, no? Here, in this larger-than-life reflection of our world, we see more clearly. Somehow, we perceive our truer selves in the abstraction. That’s the magic of comics.