DC Comics‘ Aquaman: The Becoming # 1 places Jackson Hyde in a coming-of-age (and Atlantean hero status) story that’s brimming with promise.
Opening of the new DC Comics Pride series, Aquaman: Becoming # 1 shows Jackson Hyde giving up his sidekick status to take on the role of Aquaman. Aqualad, a fan favorite character featured prominently in the New 52, Teen Titans, and the Young justice the television series is portrayed here as a teenager who enjoys having fun with everything – despite the love life – understood. With art by Diego Olortegui and Wade Von Grawbadger, colors by Adriano Lucas, lettering from AndWorld Design and handwriting by Brandon Thomas, Aquaman: Becoming gives Jackson’s perfect little world a rude and upsetting awakening.
Aquaman: Becoming # 1 opens onto the battlefield. Apokolips is ravaged and Aqualad is the last thing that stands between Earth and utter annihilation … And then the training simulation expires. Escaping from the Atlantis VR Center, Jackson sets aside time for his mentors Aquaman and Mera before meeting his mother on the surface. Sneaking through the admiring crowd, he catches up to his mother and is confused by the new waiter. Their breakfast is cut short when superhero duty calls, which also gives Mum Hyde time to question the new boy in town. As Jackson juggles to break up a hostage situation, it becomes clear that someone is watching him. Soon Jackson is attacked in Atlantis by a mysterious alien. After a brutal fight, it’s clear Jackson’s life will never be the same again.
In Aquaman: Becoming # 1, Thomas has crafted a solid debut album that captures the characters and their dynamics well. Thomas creates a playful atmosphere at the start of the number that suits the final dramatic tonal change. The issue has mostly a healthy quality, but its ending promises that the next issue will be high octane. At the center of this series is, of course, the LGBTQ element of Aqualad’s character. Jackson’s sexuality is effortlessly incorporated into the fabric of the narrative. Moments like Aquaman casually threatening to help Jackson find a new boyfriend or his overprotective mother feel organic and truly heartwarming, while further informing their characterization.
Olortegui and Von Grawbadger’s pencils and inking, respectively, are vibrant and striking, forming a bold illustration style that elevates the dynamic tone of the writing. Line art is especially brilliant in capturing action sequences, using a mixture of textures to convey movement and surprisingly visceral violence. The backgrounds are beautifully detailed, often with intricate line art, and their character designs are charming and well balanced between expressive and naturalistic.
Lucas’s colors match the high standards set by the number illustration. Lucas’ masterful and varied use of vibrant, graduated and pastel colors lends a distinctive flavor to each piece and sequence. AndWorld Design’s lettering is solid throughout, with inventive echo effects in the second half of the number that help establish the grim change of tone.
Aquaman: Becoming # 1 charts a bold path to a definitive Jackson Hyde coming of age story. Overall, the first issue is brimming with promise. Right off the bat, this episode of the Pride series seems like more of a DC title focused on a gay character than specifically a queer love story. Those looking for something more rom-com oriented would do well to look elsewhere. That being said, this chapter in Aqualad’s story is a pleasure to read and hopefully spark more headlines that revolve around Jackson Hyde.
READ MORE: Aqualad Champions DC’s New Focus on LGBTQ + Audiences
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