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Aqualad II/Jackson Hyde

This profile focuses on the Aqualad II version which appears in comics and does not take into account the animated character created by Greg Weisman, Brandon Vietti, and Phil Bourassa for Young Justice. A profile for the animated Aqualad (aka Kaldur’ahm) will come at a later date.

Jackson Hyde was raised by his mother Lucia in Silver City, New Mexico, a place she thought presented the ideal opportunities to keep she and her son safe from being discovered by Jackson’s father. While Lucia has refused and avoided telling Jackson anything about his father for all of his life her secrets began to unravel when Jackson’s hydrokinetic power surprisingly manifested. This happened around the same time Jackson realized his attraction to other boys. Given his mother’s penchant to withhold the truth, Jackson’s attitude is just the opposite – he doesn’t want to hide anything. This is illustrated in his debut scene in Teen Titans #6 (2016). Jackson has a boyfriend named Kenny and they drive out separately to a desert meeting spot late at night to avoid suspicion. Jackson tries to persuade Kenny to come out but Kenny won’t out of fear his conservative, blue collar father will disown him. Kenny ends the relationship in reaction to Jackson sharing another part of himself and it’s just too much.

What’s a teenage boy to do with a mother withholding information while criticizing your hair, a boyfriend suddenly ending things, and the manifestation of strange powers? Jump into your pickup truck and drive to San Francisco because destiny seems to be calling. This is the beginning of Jackson’s relatively short stint with the Teen Titans and his baptism by water is joining the Teen Titans in their fight against King Shark.

Over the course of a baker’s dozen of issues, Jackson receives training, a new suit and a device that helps him focus his hydrokinesis into weapons, builds his confidence, and faces several foes as part of the team. Benjamin Percy and Khoi Pham elaborate on Jackson’s back story in issues #9 and 10 by bringing his mother Lucia to San Francisco and having her reveal own secret – she’s the parent from whom Jackson inherited his power and not his father who just so happens to be Black Manta who shows up with a mad on to steal the necklace Jackson wears; a necklace that has its own powerful secret. Percy uses the encounter between son and father to illustrate Jackson’s resilient attitude. Shortly after this storyline Percy formally passes the name Aqualad to Jackson by having Garth, the original name bearer, bequeath it to the younger man.

With an impending change of direction and creators in the Teen Titans title, Jackson leaves the group and San Francisco. To my knowledge he next appears as a supporting character in the Aquaman series starting with issue #50. His appearances from issues #50 through #61 reaffirm his character traits of loyalty and dependability, but his inclusion is in service to the main plots involving Aquaman, Mera, and political intrigue in Atlantis.

Writer Jordan Clark and artists Marco Santucci and Leandro Fajardo Jr collaborate on spotlighting the hero in a two part story running in issues #62 and #63. Clark imbues Jackson with empathy and compassion by fleshing out a little more his family history. Jackson discovers his Xebelian grandfather is the beloved author and poet Lokua and the tragic reason why his mother was forced to leave Xebel. This new knowledge later leads to a touching scene between son and mother. Jackson’s paternal grandfather Jesse was demanding and strict raising his son David (Black Manta) in Baltimore under very challenging circumstances. This sentiment doesn’t extend to Black Manta but rather it makes for a firm resolve by Jackson to hold his father accountable for his actions and choices and to protect his mother.

Other facets of Jackson’s personality are shown. He’s equally charming with and charmed by a young Xebelian military guard named Ha’Wea. When the city is confronted by a threat Jackson doesn’t hesitate to lend his powers to mounting a defense and protecting Ha’Wea. Their meeting ends with the possibility of more to come.

Jackson has hydrokinetic power which he inherited from his mother Lucia. It’s the same ability to control water and shape it into different objects. His skill has not reached the level of Mera who also comes from Xebel. Superhuman strength endurance, the ability to swim at high speeds, and breathe underwater and on land round out his power set.

Jackson Hyde/ Aqualad first appeared in comics in Brightest Day #4. In this pre-Rebirth continuity, Jackson was adopted as a young child and raised in New Mexico. This first appearance was before the debut of Kaldur/ Kaldur’ahm on Young Justice in 2010. A cameo appearance in DCU: Rebirth #1 (2016) informed readers that Hyde is gay.

Jackson Hyde is an adaptation by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis on Kaldur’ahm who debuted in the Young Justice animated series and is created by Greg Weisman, Brandon Vietti, and Phil Bourassa.

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July 2, 2021
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