‘Aquaman: The Becoming’ continues to be a deeply intriguing character study of Jackson Hyde and how he fits into the various worlds he is part of, while building up just what type of hero and Aquaman he can and will be. Even with another artistic change the book retains the same energy and scope that it has for the previous issues, bringing this underwater world to beautiful and weighty life.
The truth is a delicate thing that can be bent and manipulated by those that wish to do so for their own nefarious reasons, a lesson that so many are still learning in our own reality but also one that Jackson Hyde and his newly revealed sister Delilah must learn.
Aquaman: The Becoming has been a very interesting series so far as it has taken us through a journey, focused not just on moving Jackson into a position to be the new Aquaman but also to build up his world and fully show us who he is and what he will do in order to protect those around him. We get some more of that here as Brandon Thomas gives us a deeper look at Xebel than we normally get. It really hits home here how Jackson is a character trapped between multiple worlds, yet he never lets that get to him because he knows who he is and who he stands with, and the type of hero he wants to be.
Often when it takes to the penultimate issue for the overarching threat that can feel like a negative about a story, but not in this case. Thomas has built up a solid world and story and focused on character and connections which has made each issue compelling and interesting in its own right. We get a bit more time to explore here with Delilah and Jackson, finding out more about her and realizing that she wasn’t the villain one might have thought but unfortunately was just a pawn in a larger game. It was fun watching them being heroic together while seeing also what a badass their mother Lucia truly can be.
There is another bit of art rotation in this issue, and just like the previous ones, it doesn’t take away from the story. Issue one and two penciler Diego Olortegui has returned and is joined by Paul Pelletier, Wade Von Grawbadger remains on inks with assistance from Norm Rapmund, while colorist Adriano Lucas and letterer Andworld Design return once more.
Honestly, on first read, the fact that there are two pencilers on board wasn’t something that I even noticed. Upon second inspection it was something that I could see but the styles of the two are similar enough that the difference is a smoother type of exchange, not a jarring change of style. All the work from Olortegui, Pelletier, Von Grawbadger, and Rapmund has a weight to it and smooth flowing energy that is very evident on the more action-packed pages. Even without the telltale signs, one would see in a live-action type of scene, there is the feeling that they are underwater in the movements and the way the fights go down and it works.
Another aspect that helps with this is just the really great panel work going on here, where quite a number of pages fully live up to the idea of showing rather than telling. A lot of great close-ups and cutaways that make everything flow even better.
Xebel is a place that is very different in many ways from Atlantis, especially in appearance from all that it has gone through. Yet, it’s just as gorgeous and full of life. Lucas colors help bring a lot of that out of things, so bright and popping and smooth. Yet the colors also have a bit of a muted town to them compared to what one saw from Lucas in the Atlantis scenes in previous issues or even the surface world jaunts Jackson had previously. It reminds us that this place has a darkness to it, while also having great light potential that could be unlocked.
Andworld Design does tremendous work with lettering, making the dialogue bubbles float around as needed and not feel crowded or out of place. All the SFX feel solid and colorful and distinct, especially in the scene before Lucia shows up where all we have to follow is the artwork and the SFX, very little dialogue. It works and the scene is fun and almost horror-like but still light at the same time.
Aquaman: The Becoming #5 is now on sale in print and digitally from DC Comics.