Thrown Into The Deep End: Reviewing ‘Aquaman: The Becoming’ #2
by Scott Redmond
Jackson Hyde hits some patches of rough waters as ‘Aquaman: The Becoming’ #2 pits the hero against some hard hitting foes that one can’t fight with their fists, tapping into the real world in a really relevant and well done way. Every page is a gorgeous journey through Atlantis and Amnesty Bay as this team brings vivid deep life this slice of the DC Comics universe. It’s a really fantastic time to be a fan of the Aquaman family and their world.
Every superhero has their moments where it feels like the entire world is against them, accused of a crime they didn’t commit. Unfortunately for Jackson Hyde, one of those moments has come right on the heels of him finally ascending to hold the title of Aquaman.
What was really great about the first issue of Aquaman: The Becoming was the fact that it took all the room within the first issue to really hit home who Jackson was as a person and as a hero. It set up the solid foundation for this character that has been around for a good number of years and showcased who he is as he becomes even more in the DC Universe. This type of building has to be done especially when one plans to tear it all apart right away.
That’s where we are in the second issue, as Brandon Thomas continues this story by putting Jackson in one of the most harrowing of spots: having your life and world ripped away from you in the blink of an eye. There are a great number of really solid and wonderful character moments here (especially between Jackson and Mera) but the handling of some really pertinent real-world issues really caught my attention here.
Thomas does not shy away from the bigotry at play here as the Atlanteans assume that the Xebellian characters like Jackson and Mera have turned on the Atlanteans, despite the moves to bring peace between the two groups. The ways that the two Atlantean officers are with Mera during their interrogation, how they treat Jackson’s mother, and how they go after Jackson himself would be very familiar to most members of a marginalized group in reality.
Here Thomas deals with xenophobia, perceived terrorism, and bigotry in a very upfront and matter-of-fact way that gets the point across very simply and effectively. Sometimes when creators try to tackle stuff that pertains to moments within the world around us, it can land flat or feel hollow. That is not the case with this book, as it feels very full and real in the amount of attention and detail put into these elements alongside the rest of the story.
Also, the choice to repeat the same moment with Mera but from the two different time points, waiting to show the view with Jackson till after the other moments with the officers, was a fantastic choice. Not only did we get to see a ton more with her and how she handles things, Queen or not, and what the Curry/Hyde family means to each other really helps anchor the issue.
When working within a world like Atlantis where everything is fantastical and beyond the scope of our own real world, it takes a very solid and imaginative team to bring that to life. The gorgeous nature of this book proves that the right team was found. This issue finds Diego Olortegui still on pencils but joined by Skylar Patridge who also works on inks alongside Wade Von Grawbadger, with Adriano Lucas still on colors and Andworld Design bringing the lettering magic.
There is just such a fluid (sorry had to do it) energy to the artwork alongside a real weight and depth, this is especially on display within the first pages with a double-page spread (seen above) that shows off Jackson’s very short fight with the Atlantean guard that comes for him. There is a ton happening on that page but it’s all so distinct and easy to follow while also being bright and colorful to boot. Alongside the action, there are a bunch of well-placed SFX that highlight everything as well as word balloons that dance among the action in all the right spots.
All of the book follows the lead of these opening pages, as even in these dark times everything about this underwater world is bright and gorgeous and just amazing to behold. All of the emotion is clearly on display as we get a bunch of great close-ups or POV style shots, and there are little things thrown in that help to clue the reader into a great many things. Such as a moment with the officers, where they realize that Mera had bugged one of them previously.
This could have just been a moment where it was revealed through the dialogue alone, but instead, the team worked to make sure we the reader knew something was up. Little SFX showing that the guard had been scratching his hand through the entire scene, as well as making sure to progressively get closer and closer shots of the hand as this scratching was being done. Both ways work, but one of them shows a bigger use of visual storytelling that is so very integral to a medium like comic books and lets the world feel real and not so static.
Right now, the Aquaman-related side of DC Comics is in fantastic hands, and it bodes well for the future of the line and the upcoming ongoing series coming in 2022.
Aquaman: The Becoming #2 is now on sale in print and digitally from DC Comics.