Oh boy, today is the day I am finally reviewing an Aquaman title, and this one issue gave me so much to fangirl over and share with you lovely people!
I first started reading Aquaman when I found out Dan Abbnet was writing the Rebirth run. Having already been a fan of Abnett’s non-comic adventures, mostly through Warhammer’s Black Library range, made picking up Aquaman an easy choice. Fast forward to the current day, and with Aquaman’s main ongoing series coming to an end, we are left with Future State.
For those not already following DC’s Future State, it’s fully understandable. For a lot of people, this DC event is on the surface may be very similar to many other previous events, where publishers create a short-term reason to release new “first appearance” titles with special covers or narratives to help fuel a short-term influx of buyers. However, rest assured that Future State is no such passing fad. Honestly, the more I read of one new character the more other new characters I want to try, and I’m happy to confirm that with a near 70 issue build-up, Aquaman has hit the mark beautifully.
Writer: Brandon Thomas
Artwork: Daniel Sempere
Variant Cover: Khary Randolph
Release Date: 26th January 2020
In the ongoing series, Aquaman and Mera have understandably had their troubles ruling Atlantis. With new rulers, political feuds and even dancing with ocean deities, life was every bit as hectic as you’d imagine for a DC mainline hero family. Debuting in issue #57, Andy arrived on the scene as the daughter of both Arthur and Mera and a potential future heir to the Atlantean throne.
Reading more into it, she could also be the first child of both Xebel and Atlantis in current continuity, thus strengthening their uneasy alliance. With the potential of having both Arthur and Mera’s royal bloodlines, duties and associated powers, Andy could be one to watch in years to come. As such, Future State could be the first step to a far greater narrative for her and one other member of the now extended Aqua-Family.
Another character who is following the mainline run at full steam ahead is none other than Future State’s new Aquaman. Former Aqualad, Kaldur’ahm/Jackson Hyde has aged well and looks and acts the part here. The son of the villainous Black Manta and sidekick to Arthur Jackson has had a lot to prove in every story he has been part of. With the new weight of the Aquaman mantle, I have been quite excited to see how these pressures would be applied in new ways.
Future State: Aquaman starts strongly with an introduction to both Neptune and Aquaman. Neptune isn’t solidly explained, but is the ocean that joins all others, almost like a new omni-verse within the wider DC universe. Within a matter of pages you get a feel for multiple realms within this setting. With changes to aquatic lifeforms and subtle colour changes, the vastness of this all-encompassing ocean is made a reality.
In the main series, Aquaman has visited a handful of aquatic realms and the depths of previously known areas, each with solid variation. This issue extends and improves on these already amazing artistic ventures. Artist Daniel Sampere is really showcasing his talents in all the best ways. Honestly, I think that Aquaman tends to bring out the best in writers and artists, what with the vastness of narrative options, scenic variety and endemic life.
Our first look at Aquaman gives us a broken captive barren of all hope. Having tried to escape an alien prison 300 times, his spirit and will to fight is slowly depleting. Form this point, the narrative forks into two timelines, and I’ll need to be very careful about spoilers.
The “6 years ago” timeline allows us to bond with both Aqualad and Aqualass (Jackson and Andy). At this point, we know that out of the two candidates to take on the Aquaman mantle, Jackson was chosen. That’s right, the son of the greatest villain in the Aqua-timelines is chosen over Arthur’s own daughter. With small spoilers to come, issue one begins to unpack one of the potential reasons why.
Future State poses many questions but the biggest here is why Andy hasn’t been chosen to take over the Aquaman mantle. The suspected theory based on this page is that Andy’s powers are either too strong or too unreliable. It’s been explained in a wealth of ways previously, but Aquaman can read the water and communicate with aquatic life. A fish is still a fish, even if it’s a bug, and if you follow Batman Brave and the Bold Animated series there are apparently even more flexible interpretations. This is the first time a member of the Aqua family has been described as “controlling”. Aquatic ecosystems have always been respected by the marine life, but if they are controlled, could that lead to lasting damage? Is it ethical? Is it another one of those Star Wars ‘don’t let your emotions control you’ situations?
What I have wanted to convey is that Future State: Aquaman is not another marketing event thrown out there to promote sales or tempt speculators. I haven’t read the majority of Future State titles, but those I have – and from what I’ve heard from friends – are all definitely worth a buy.
The adventure of the Aquaman saga continues here with fresh faced stars. New narratives have gripped me within 12 pages of this opening issue, and this is a very promising fresh start for the Currys without sacrificing any of the prior build-up. Aquaman has been one of the most consistently great titles in recent years, continually going from strength to strength, and this is the next step, featuring small scale world-hopping, the awakening of new powers, building on old mythos and cementing an inviting comic future.