It should be a good time to be Jackson Hyde. After existing under the radar for much of his life, the young hero has found acceptance and honesty in his relationship with his mother, made peace with the truth about his father and been embraced by Aquaman, Mera and the people of Amnesty Bay. Now, with Aquaman focused on raising his daughter, Andy, Jackson is ready to step up to become the hero the people of Atlantis and the world will need.
And then it all comes crashing down on him.
Written by Brandon Thomas and drawn by Diego Olortegui, Aquaman: The Becoming is a six-issue miniseries that will shine the spotlight on the DC Universe’s newest Aqualad for the very first time. However, as Jackson’s quickly growing fanbase can tell you, this character symbolizes far more than just the continuation of Aquaman’s legacy. As a Black, gay hero who’s destined—at least according to DC Future State—to mentor and fight alongside the also LGBTQ+ Andy Curry when she eventually becomes Aquawoman, Jackson is primed to lead one of the more fascinatingly diverse corners of the DC Universe. The future of the DCU’s Atlantean superheroes is decidedly queer, and it starts this September with the release of Aquaman: The Becoming #1.
“Aquaman: The Becoming is a coming-of-age story for Jackson Hyde, marking his final transformation from Aqualad to Aquaman,” Thomas shares when asked to describe the recently announced miniseries. “When the series begins, Jackson has everything he’s ever wanted—acceptance, respect and a strong web of found family and friends around him. He and his mother are finally on the same page and his training with Arthur Curry (with an assist from Batman) is going extremely well. The shadow of his father Black Manta still looms, but he’s refusing to let that completely define him and his life. Everything is perfect.
“So naturally, we spend the entire story challenging and damaging everything he’s created, forcing him to fight for it and prove himself worthy of even having it. Jackson’s spent so much time trying to distance himself from his infamous father, but if he’s going to endure what’s ahead, he’ll need some of that darkness, that commitment to survive against all odds.”
What lies ahead for Jackson is the complete destruction of all he’s earned through his heroism and hard work these past several years. But it’s not at the hands of who you might expect—it’s not Black Manta this time around, but someone entirely new.
“A new villain called Deluge has been waiting and watching, enraged at what Jackson has built for himself, believing that he never deserved it,” reveals Thomas. “The truth puts everything at risk, because it turns out his perfect life was anything but, and this series is all about Jackson learning that the hard way and gaining a powerful new adversary that will threaten to define him just as strongly as his father has. And there’s no famous mentor (Arthur), or surrogate mother (Mera), or supportive friends in sight.”
Thomas may be a relatively new voice to DC, but he’s certainly not new to Jackson Hyde. He wrote the well-regarded Future State: Aquaman miniseries last winter that introduced Jackson’s eventual relationship with Andy Curry and revealed that Jackson does eventually inherit Arthur’s Aquaman mantle. (If you missed it, you can read it in the just-released Future State: Justice League collected edition.)
“Writing Future State: Aquaman, featuring Jackson and Andy Curry, changed my own life and the larger perception of my work at DC,” shares Thomas. “So there’s a real debt there and I will always be ready and willing to write as many stories featuring them as people are willing to read. Jackson Hyde is a great character and a worthy heir to the title of Aquaman, and this is only the beginning of big things for him in the DCU.”
Jackson is an important, significant character within queer comic book circles and Aquaman: The Becoming brings a new Amnesty Bay love interest into Aqualad’s life. However, the character represents far more than just his sexuality and Thomas believes that his journey, both up to this point and over the course of the miniseries, is one that’s relatable to many, whether they happen to be queer or not.
“I love the character and what he represents,” he says. “Here is a young man who spent a long time ostracized and estranged from his birth family, who was forced to go out and create his own surrogate one to survive and thrive, which unfortunately, is something I think a lot of people can relate to. There is also a darkness in him, that both tells him he doesn’t deserve all the great things finally happening for him and is a constant reminder that his father will always be a part of him, whether he likes it or not. Coming to grips with that is the final step in freeing himself and becoming the hero and man he wants to be.”
What will it take for Jackson to get there? How much will he have to lose in the process? Will he prove himself worthy of the Aquaman title? We’ll find out along with Jackson this fall when Aquaman: The Becoming hits comic stands.
Aquaman: The Becoming #1 by Brandon Thomas, Diego Olortegui, Wade Von Grawbadger and Adriano Lucas will be available in print and as a digital comic book on September 21, 2021.