Mera: Character, Costume History, and Cosplay
Mera was created by artist Nick Cardy and writer Jack Miller for the 1963 issue of Aquaman #11. However, her silver age beginnings did not add a lot of depth to her character. During this time period, comic stories tended to be self-contained adventures in a single issue. A larger story might continue for two or three issues. It also did not help that women were often depicted as simple, two-dimensional characters.
Mera’s first origin story had her coming from the watery dimension of Xebel. While she was trying to get away from the evil Leron, she escaped to Earth. On Earth, Mera formed a relationship with Aquaman. At first, they were simply crime-fighting partners, but this relationship grew into love, and they eventually married.
Like many characters within the DC Comic Universe, Mera would have her origin story re-imagined. Xebel became a banished colony of Atlanteans. Mera and her sister Hila were the princesses of this small colony sealed within the Bermuda Triangle. They were sent to kill the king of Atlantis, but Mera fell in love with the man she was sent to assassinate. Unable to bring herself to kill Aquaman, she betrayed her people to be with him. Just like in her first origin story, they were married, and she became Queen of Atlantis.
First Major Story Arc
It would not be until her son was killed by Black Manta in the early 1970s that Mera would be given a major story arc and fully develop as a character. Mera was furious with her father for not being at Arthur Curry Jr.’s side when he died. This led to a fight that appeared to leave Mera dead. However, she had actually been brainwashed by Thantos and imprisoned in the hellish dimension of the Netherworld.
Aquaman rescued her, but their relationship became strained. Despite their marital woes, she was still a strong leader and ruled Atlantis during Aquaman’s exile. She and Aquaman would eventually resolve their issues and get back together.
Mera and Aquaman have had many adventures together. In typical DC fashion, she has been sent across time and dimensions, lost and regained her powers, apparently died on several occasions, seen Atlantis destroyed, witnessed Aquaman killed and reborn, and was even forced to live on land.
Mera’s ocean physiology gives her super strength and invulnerability. However, it is her ability to manipulate water that makes her such a formidable opponent. She can move water around her and alter its density to make it extremely hard. She does have limited telepathy, but she is unable to communicate with sea life. During the Blackest Night storyline, Mera was recruited by the Red Lanterns. The Red Power Ring augmented her powers with that of the ring’s. Unfortunately, she also suffered from its side effects and became filled with rage.
When Mera first swam onto the pages of Aquaman’s comic, she had on a full-body green swimsuit. There was a small seaweed design running up the costume from the side of the legs all the way up to her top. This sleeveless ensemble was attached at the top around the neck. There was a small collar, and the feet were shaped into fins.
This costume would be the basis for almost all of Mera’s future clothing designs. As princess and later queen, she would wear a gold crown. In typical DC superheroine style, it looked more like a tiara.
Mera’s second costume had more flair and showed more skin, but it kept the full green swimsuit look. Rather than having a seaweed design, the pattern now looked more like camouflage. Her feet had a normal human appearance and no longer looked like fins.
The biggest change would be seen in the upper half of her costume. While her original swimsuit covered most of her chest, this one was spread open and revealed her more than ample bosom. Perhaps it was getting too hot at the bottom of the ocean. The feature that grabs the most attention would be the huge white collar. Mera really liked the '70s, and it worked great as a sun reflector. Mera’s crown would have sharper angles, which made the triangle pattern stand out.
Given that she's a female underwater superhero, it is surprising that it took the artists so long to put Mera in a bikini. Artists are always finding ways to put their women superheroes in a two-piece. She had a seaweed miniskirt over a bikini bottom. The bottoms were essential, because the striped fabric skirt design didn’t really cover her body.
Although she had a collar around her neck and straps under her arms, the bra part of the costume looked to be two oversized pasties that magically stuck on her body. With less fabric being used on her clothing, more metal was used to create Mera’s crown. It would now come down the side and below her cheekbones. Mera also accessorized her outfit with a couple gold hooped bracelets on each arm.
I named this costume Sea Demon, because the whole ensemble managed to be sexy and menacing at the same time. It was very similar to her early white collar costume. This time around, the green bodysuit would completely cover her arms. Her muscular and voluptuous form was accentuate by this form fitting outfit.
By having the sleeves end with a strap looped around her middle finger, it made the fingers look like claws. The top was still open, but it only showed a little of her chest. The white collar drastically increased in size and now looked like it belonged to a witch or vampire. Her once regal crown, now looked like it was made from the large teeth of a creature she slayed in battle.
Mera would wear several costumes that were very similar to each other. The noticeable difference was in the top section and jewelry choice. (We will get into that in the following sections.)
The basic design had Mera once again in a completely green full body suit. This time, the costume was made to look like it made made of fish scales. This fit nicely with her underwater theme and was closer to what people image a mermaid’s tail looks like. Let’s start dissecting the “subtle” changes to this fish costume.
The first variation of the fish scale costume completely covered Mera. The only skin exposed to the elements were her hands, neck and face. It looked like a stylized version of the wetsuit a diver might wear when swimming in the freezing temperatures of the ocean. Her crown was more detailed than past versions, but retained a shape similar to what fans were used to. She wore simple gold hooped earrings, that added some much needed color.
The next version of the fish scale costume would have a large section removed from the bust. Although it still covered most of her body, the low cut design made it clear that there was no stuffing involved in her outfit. The crown was slightly larger, but kept the slim design.
For the final version of her fish scaled costume, the top portion was almost completely removed. It now stopped at the top of her bustline and looped around the back of her neck. Her shoulders, clavicle and neck were open for the world to see. Once again, less fabric being used for clothing, means more accessories. Mera had on the same crown and hooped earrings seen in previous ensembles, but now she had huge gold vambraces on her forearms.
As a member of the Red Lantern Corps, Mera would ditch her usual green duds and start wearing all red. The fabrics cut is very similar to her fish scale costume, with the low cut bust. Even her crown was colored red. The costume was outlined in a gold trim and had a thin embossed red line running along the front, that formed the Red Lantern Corps insignia at her midriff.
The most striking feature of her new uniform was the large, spiked, bone pauldrons on her shoulders. When the ring separated itself from Mera, she went into cardiac arrest. Luckily, Saint Walker and Carol Ferris were able to save her from dying. No longer a Red Lantern, Mera was able to get back into her more familiar green color scheme.
Real Life Depictions
Elena Satine: The first live action appearance of Mera would be on Smallville. This show about Superman coming into his destiny would have lots of guest stars from the DC comic universe. For the final season, Mera was introduced in episode 205: Patriot. She was played by the classically trained actress Elena Satine. Mera was already married to Aquaman, and they were destroying secret prisons designed to hold superpowered individuals who did not comply with the Vigilante Registration Act.
Models and Cosplayers
Fans of Mera have had been putting their cosplay skills to work for years, so they could dress as their favorite Queen of Atlantis.
If you enjoyed this article, check out my other articles on costume history. Explore the history of some of the greatest female superheroes in comics through their costumes.
Google Images (Images appeared on several sites and was unsure of original)