Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth #1 review

The Drowning continues! The flood waters brought by the evil intergalactic Triumvirate rage on, and Earth is hours away from falling completely. Can the home team heroes find a way to stem the tide? Or will Poseidon’s children breathe their last? Drowned Earth officially kicks off in Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth #1.

Non-stop action

But for a short prelude and an isolated scene or two, Drowned Earth #1 is a massive battle fought on multiple fronts, and I think that’s exactly what this sort of event needs as an opening play. Our heroes are taxed to the limit, and it never seems like their stuff is enough. We get a glimpse of the probable path to victory, but the overall tone of this issue is one of hopelessness. How will the Justice League win the day when it seems like it’s already lost?

In my experience, Tynion has a tendency to overwrite dialogue, but he manages to restrain himself here—excepting one awfully-done scene with Batman and Miss Martian. The characters mostly feel like themselves, the new villains come off as genuine threats rather than jokes, and there are actually some strong thematic threads that don’t feel forced—that, in fact, make a lot of sense. The parallels between Aquaman and his captors, and between Mera and Atlanna are especially well-done.

Of course, it would be silly to talk about how well this book works and leave out Howard Porter’s artwork. As I already mentioned, this issue is action-packed, and Porter delivers all of it excellently. He doesn’t have my favorite character aesthetics across the board, but everybody is serviceable, and some of the characters—Mera, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman—actually look quite good for my sensibilities.  Hi-Fi’s colors are a great compliment to Porter’s lines, too, and manage to give definition and distinction to some rather chaotic panels.

If letterers charged by the character instead of the page, Tom Napolitano would probably be having a better year than anyone in his profession. Working with Snyder and Tynion on Justice League certainly gives him a lot to do, but he handles it just fine—even amidst some of Porter’s busiest panels. There are fantastic SFX, too—an absolute necessity in such an action-packed book. I love the split KRAKOOM from Superman, the KRA making me visualize his outstretched arms on the previous page, the KOOM the impact of his hands meeting in thunder.

Napolitano has also made some consistently good design choices here—and in the Justice League series as a whole. His time/place text is set in a nice, readable font. It has some character, and it’s aesthetically-pleasing, but its overall simplicity makes it. The credits appear to use the same font that he’s been using since “The Totality”, and that’s a similarly-simple, classy-looking font, one that would be well-suited on a movie poster or in the credits for a film. Not all letterers need to have the typographic sensibilities of Nate Piekos or Steve Wands, but it’s definitely a nice plus when they do, and I think Napolitano’s work on Justice League is a big step in that direction.

Recommended if…

  • You’re reading Justice League. This is the story that the last issue set up, and that the next two issues will deal with. You should probably follow along.
  • You like action in your comics. This one’s loaded with it, and it’s rendered really well by Porter and Hi-Fi.
  • Black Manta, people. Black Manta.


Drowned Earth kicks off with an action-packed #1. But for one exception, Tynion’s dialogue works very well, and the mounting conflict drowns our hopes—as it should—before future issues rescue us from these troubled waters. With excellent artwork from Porter and Hi-Fi, and clean, capable letters from Napolitano, this is just the start this event needs.

SCORE: 8/10