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Aquaman: The Becoming #1

Writer: Brandon Thomas
Pencils: Diego Olortegui
Inks: Wade Von Grawbdger
Colors: Adriano Lucas
Cover art: David Talaski

A Day In The Life Of A Queer Black Superhero

In case you haven’t heard — and you probably have already but let me add another voice to the chorus, please, okay? – the first issue of Aquaman: The Becoming has so much to like inside its covers! Fresh, upbeat, promising, confident, happy, and sexy are words that come to mind while flipping through the story. Since the two part story by Jordan Clark, Marco Santucci, and Romulo Fajardo Jr from last year I’ve been left wanting more stories with Hyde. It’s finally happening and the wait has been worth it! Last year’s story by Clark, Santucci, and Fajardo packed so much into two issues that it felt like double the amount. Please don’t misunderstand there. What Clark achieved with his script and its amount of characterization, drama, action, quiet moments, and social commentary is something I think new writers in general could benefit from studying.

As first issue set ups go, there’s a lot happening as Thomas and Olortegui explore Jackson’s relationship on multiple levels from Aquaman, Mera, and daughter Andy to his mother, Atlantean guard Chess, the Teen Titans, and on a larger scale to Atlantis and the surface world, and the possibility of a new romantic interest with Davi who’s recently moved to Amnesty Bay whom Jackson and his mom encounter at a local diner. The most significant relationship the creators are examining in this limited series is Jackson’s role in the Aquaman mythos. After all, the title is Aquaman: The Becoming. And to anyone pining away for Garth, the original Aqualad…yes, I miss Garth and Garth is Tempest now and we could have both if only DC would follow through. Until that happens, this comic is a nice thing and we can have nice things!

The pacing feels brisk and seamless with Jackson moving from activities in Atlantis to kicking back in Amnesty Bay to the attack climaxing this chapter. The balance between drama, action, and mystery on the one hand and light moments, camaraderie, and humor on the other feels perfect. Credit to the team for managing to make the moments when Jackson’s sexuality comes up feel and read as completely natural. It seems like a small thing but so often the result falls short. Thank you for Arthur’s offer to find a cute guy to Jackson’s smitten reactions to his mother’s teasing and protectiveness and for what’s to come in the next five issues!

On the art side, Diego Olortegui’s style is energetic and crisp and his wonderfully emotive faces bring Thomas’ character bears to life. A good sense of anatomy and body language animate his figures. Wade Von Grawbdger’s concise inking is a perfect complement to the penciling. Whether the scenes are underwater or above surface, Adriano Lucas brings it all together with a range of tones to match the scene and its mood. To my eyes the artists’ combined work creates a feeling of expanding potential for Jackson. The main cover art by David Talaski stunned me the first time I saw it back in the summer. It’ll be a damned shame if a trade dress free version isn’t available as a poster either individually or packaged as one of the 20 posters in the DC Poster Portfolio: Pride book in October’s solicits.

Change can be good and I’m excitedly looking forward to read how this team positions Jackson going forward in the Atlantean realm and the greater DCU!

September 24, 2021
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