We begin on Apokolips. The forces of Darkseid are attacking and only Jackson Hyde can save the day
Allegedly. It’s a training exercise Aquaman has set up for Aqualad in an Atlantean grotto. But Jackson does have a mission – step up while Arthur takes care of business elsewhere.
Back on land, Jackson is meeting his mother for breakfast in Amnesty Bay. It comes with a side of blushing.
A police alarm calls Jackson away but his mother won’t be bored.
And the cause of the emergency?
This is a fun read, with nice characterisation for Jackson, the best comic book Mom this side of Martha Kent, mystery in the form of the waiter and the intriguing question – why is this series called what this series is called? Aquaman is away for a few days, but even if that stay is extended Jackson has no reason to take the name.
Unless this story is going to end a few years on, in the world of Future State, my best guess is that ‘Aquaman’ in the title is simply to add on sales. Mind, there is some talk towards the end of the issue of Jackson inheriting the title.
Anyway, writer Brandon Thomas does a good job of keeping me turning the pages. Jackson is likeable and there’s a pleasant perkiness to proceedings. The big plus is that Jackson is smiling throughout, finally we get an Aqualad tale with not a single mention of his bad dad, Black Manta. Instead we have a Silver Age Aquaman villain who’s easily dispatched, and some more formidable foes as we swim towards the cliffhanger. And I love that the aftermath of the Flying Fish fracas show Jackson’s compassion.
The opening pages are striking but surely Arthur would take a more hands-on approach to training his protege? I’m sure this is more than a simple virtual reality game, but why doesn’t Arthur challenge Jackson himself? Ask Mera, whose powers Jackson shares, to throw some shapes? Take him on patrol? Employ the Atlantean guard? Bring in Tula or the shamefully ignored second Aquagirl, Lorena? Toss in Topo? Or best of all, have Tempest – the original Aqualad – throw some magic at him – that would be a great way to officially pass the torch.
One thing this issue sorely lacks is a brief recap of Jackson’s deal – his background, his links to Atlantis, his parentage (OK, that would be a single mention of Manta, but merited), his powers and potential. Why does he have uncomfortable looking sticks on his back? Isn’t he a tad young for all those tattoos? If DC wants to reach out to new audiences – and this book has the LBGT+ bullet on the cover, so it’s likely getting extra promotion – it needs to make things easier for new readers.
The art by penciller Diego Olortegui and inker Wade Avon Grawbadger is attractive, with good-looking heroes, foes who seem formidable and scary monsters (and dreadlocks, in one totally Momtastic panel).
Breakout panels make the action scenes pop, while colourist Adriano Lucas ensures seawater and sunshine looks lovely. And letterer Andworld Design’s clever way with word balloons adds a fresh element to the storytelling in a couple of instances, such as this echo effect.
I now want to see this in every Batcave scene – perhaps editors Marquis Draper and Andrea Shea could put the word out in the virtual corridors of DC.
David Talaski’s cover is just gorgeous, when was the last time we had a portrait of a comic character just smiling out at us? And the sea creatures in the image are adorable.
With no Aquaman title on the stands at the moment, you could do a lot worse than she’ll out for this joyous debut issue.