Over the past decade, it has been DC’s mission to transform Aquaman from being the butt of the joke to a hero that can stand proudly next to the World’s Finest. After two successful comics runs in the New 52 and Rebirth eras, not to mention the huge box office windfall of the 2018 film, it can be firmly stated: mission accomplished. But now what?
The title’s future is unclear, at least at the time of this writing. Aquaman is one of just a handful of DC titles that haven’t been slated to return in the new Infinite Frontier era. Thankfully, Future State: Aquaman #1 is here to give readers a glimpse at what could be on the horizon for the Atlanteans.
This issue opens with a grown-up Jackson Hyde, attempting a Hades-like prison break from Neptune before being captured by armored guards and being brought before the King. Jackson reveals to the King he is in fact Aquaman. Then we cut to a flashback of six years prior. Jackson is training Aqualass, Andy Curry, the daughter of Arthur Curry and Mera. Andy is a troublesome student for Jackson, though he is persistent and wants to do what’s right for her and her parents.
When Andy’s power to control marine life erupts due to her own rage, she and Jackson are transported to another ocean, a green one under a pink sky. It’s then we are taught about the Confluence, a nexus of sorts for all oceans across time and space. Not unlike the World Tree of the Marvel Universe, the Confluence allows Jackson and Andy to continue their training on many new and strange worlds.
The Confluence is a fun concept for Aquaman, and it’s this kind of don’t-think-too-hard-about-it comic book science that makes Future State: Aquaman #1 such a good read. Writer Brandon Thomas (Future State: Outsiders) can now take the Atlanteans out of Atlantis, and the well-trodden stories of monarchical drama that accompany it.
Artist Daniel Sampere and colorist Adriano Lucas (reuniting after last year’s Suicide Squad) also get to stretch their legs and explore vivid and bright new worlds. Lucas’s color work in particular is stunning. The issue starts with a lot of dark blues, naturally a staple for Aquaman. When the Confluence is revealed, we’re treated to a two-page spread looking at the many colorful worlds yet to be explored.
Thomas does a great job setting up the new status quo by giving us great character moments between Andy and Jackson. Their tense mentor/mentee dynamic isn’t wholly original, but it is a long-overdue change of pace for the title. Arthur and Mera (and Black Manta) are nowhere to be seen, but their influence on Jackson weighs on him. Fortunately, Thomas gives Jackson the opportunity to be his own Aquaman, especially in the thrilling closing pages of the book. After only one issue, I feel fully invested in this new vision for Aquaman.
The Future State: Aquaman creative team have crafted a gorgeous, compelling new status quo for the Atlanteans, one that they deserve to be a part of as we enter the Infinite Frontier era. Not knowing if this story continues after Future State might be off-putting to some readers, but for now, it’s a worthwhile adventure to dive into.
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