For those of you who endured my posts a couple of months ago which were about body language because I was reading a book on body language, I will apologize in advance for the mermaid themed posts for the time being, as I am being inspired by a new book titled A Mermaid’s Tale written by Amanda Adams. The book is a bit of a personal reflection from the author who grew up wishing she was a mermaid, and using this as a frame she examines some mermaids from myth. Conversely against this background is a mermaid from fiction that I have recently become interested in, and that is Mera. I find that Geoff Johns writes female characters pretty well and his work on Mera thus far in the new 52 is no real exception. Some might like to stop me right here and say “hold on Mera is not a mermaid” which I already know to be the case. Rather instead as the author of this book raises the point, a mermaid is half woman and half fish, but the physiological difference is only the beginning. In this case I will compare Mera against Melusine (who is also not a traditional mermaid) and try to show how Mera does fit the bill somewhat.
Of course the first thing missing for Mera is the tail, as she is always depicted as a humanoid with two legs. This does not differ as much from the myth of Melusine. As the character is one of legend there is not one true origin or story of the character, but rather many that meld together. The most common depiction of her legend goes depicts a young girl raised from a magical family that plots to overthrow (or in other versions pay back) actions done against by her parents (or enemies of her parents.) She is stopped and is forced once per week to take on an animal form. Most commonly this form is taken as that of a fish, though others such as sprouting wings or even taking a dragon shape are also possible. She eventually meets and falls in love with a man (or a knight) and the two marry. She provides either power or children or both (the legend is tied sometimes to the king of Luxembourg) yet the one condition of her love and her good fortune is that one night per week she requires absolute secrecy so that she can make her transformation. Invariably an outside force or just the curiosity of her lover convinces them to spy on her and once she realizes this she flees never to return. In terms of how this relates to mermaids is through her actions. She hides who she is while providing for her love all the while hiding a great secret. In some cases as well she also absconds with her children. The relation to Mera is not as direct but there are a few things in common. Mera is sent by her people, either depicted as aliens in her early incarnations or as Atlanteans from another dimension in her later stories, to infiltrate Atlantis and to kill Aquaman. She meets and falls in love with him making this impossible. The secret which she holds is not as tenuous as that of Melusine, instead her love does not provide fortune rather it blocks a greater misfortune (that being the invasion of Atlantis.) She eventually also provides a child, though the child is taken away not by the revelation of the secret, but rather by the criminal action of Black Manta.
The connections to Melusine are not as obvious, but I think they are in fact there. Melusine is not a typical mermaid, but then neither is Mera.