Brandon Thomas, Daniel Sampere and Adriano Lucas close one of the best stories of Future State with an action and drama-packed issue, solidifying Andy Curry as one of the most interesting new characters in DC. Readers will find themselves wondering why Future State: Aquaman must come to an end.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Future State: Aquaman #2!
Andy Curry returning on a High Tide
Thomas makes the really interesting choice to start the issue re-engaging the idea that Andy Curry doesn’t have full control over her powers, and when her powers are to take control that leaves Curry, and readers, with a moral conundrum. This becomes one of two underlying threads throughout the whole issue, and one which challenges readers in a way that they aren’t typically challenged with superhero comics.
Thomas wants to know if you think it’s OK what Andy is doing, and though she does struggle with her decision making, one might argue she makes the wrong decision. This is a depth of character which readers haven’t seen from any other new Future State character, and it makes Future State: Aquaman #2 required reading.
The other thread is that of Curry’s relationship with Jackson Hyde. They are brother and sister, and they are mentor and mentee. It’s a combination of dynamics that works to serve readers a unique relationship among most modern day superheroes. It’s made more interesting by the little hints of what’s not just sibling rivalry, but what is a moral disagreement between the two about Curry’s powers. Readers might imagine future stories where these characters truly come to blows, and one’s mouth waters at the prospect of that drama.
Combined with a strong plot, and masterful pacing Thomas hits the beats of this story like a well-trained musician. Every few pages recounts a lesson Hyde taught Curry, allowing for a steady development of their relationship, as well as Curry’s character alone, as she seeks to master these lessons alone in the Confluence.
It would also be easy to called the setting of this book a co-star. The Confluence continually pushes our protagonists into new adventures, and provides for a genuinely fresh challenge in the Aquaman mythos. Specifically readers meet the Glimmerfish, whose voice seems to be there to play Curry’s doubts out loud as she struggles to put Hyde’s lessons together. It’s a really masterful use of worldbuilding by Thomas, which both gives readers an intimate look into Curry’s mind and a cool new species to flesh out this amalgamation of worlds, which is the Confluence.
The issue ends with what is a strikingly emotional moment between Curry and Hyde. Readers are allowed a peek into this first peaceful moment when someone’s trauma is finally over. All the threads Thomas had sowed, with Curry’s moral decisions, the development of their mentor/mentee relationship, and the plot about two survivors trapped far from home, crescendos here. It’s a moment which makes one stop and genuinely take a breath.
The worlds Andy Curry lives in
Now, for every compliment readers have for Thomas, there might just be two more waiting for Sampere. There isn’t a page of this book that isn’t elevated by Sampere’s work. He’s built a beautiful and impressive world that absolutely draws readers in from the first pages.
The first thing that has to be credited to Sampere is the development of the Confluence because while it’s very interesting as a literary idea, it’s made full and beautiful because of how Sampere defines it. World’s with planets floating so close they outshine planets’ suns, humanoid turtle soldiers, and planets where sharks fly among rainforest like trees. Each random panel is a world readers are going to have a desire to go back and visit.
The last planet readers visit, which was also featured heavily in Future State: Aquaman #1, is a direct homage to the Aquaman film. It recreates a lot of the armor and weapons seen in the film, and while they aren’t Atlanteans per se, it’s exciting to see such good designs put to use in an Aquaman book.
This helps define the scale of Curry’s adventures: massive and, pun intended, deep.
Coinciding with the world he’s defining is the character Andy Curry that Sampere is portraying. Under his pencil Curry runs the gamut of emotions in a way that consistently elevates the script. It’s such a compliment to an artist when their work writes more detail into the plot and characterization and that’s happening consistently here. While Thomas defines Curry’s moral quandary, it’s Sampere who lets readers know she’s genuinely regretful about it, something that contributes to Curry being one of the most well-defined characters in all of Future State.
When the book comes to a close and there’s a final emotional beat that the story needs to hit, it works because of Sampere’s depiction. Seeing the intensity and shock in a moment of conflict between Curry and Hyde, as the dam breaks for relief to set in is conveyed almost entirely through the pencilling and it nails every beat.
Something readers can let slip to the back of their minds, but is worth noting here, is how often Sampere simply makes our protagonists look cool. It’s one of the trademark things that make superheroes aspirational and successful, that people want to be like them. Throughout the book Sampere just depicts them doing cool things, and in cool poses. It’s little panels like seeing Curry fight a giant space tiger that reader’s develop an affinity for her, and want to see her return. I’ll say nothing quite tops Hyde’s bad-ass walk-off shot from the last issue though.
Finally, credit must be given to Adriano Lucas for their incredible works on colors. So much of the otherworldly feel this book possesses come in through its purple skies and green seas. And as these things change throughout the different worlds Curry visits, the story attains a sense of grandeur it might not have achieved without Lucas’s work.
Thomas, Sampere and Lucas make a great case that they should be the Aquaman creative team going into the future. Endearing the readers to new characters, defining intriguing relationships, establishing fantastic new concepts and portraying it all in the most exciting way possible, in just two issues, is no small feat. If Future State is remembered for anything, it should be the success of this book.
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