Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Future State: Aquaman #1 Review

Written By: Brandon Thomas
Art By: Daniel Sampere
Colors By: Adriano Lucas
Letters By: Clayton Cowles
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 26, 2021

Future State: Aquaman #1 is a flash-forward and a backward and sideways story about the current Aquaman, Jackson Hyde, training and caring for Arthur Curry and Mera's daughter, Andy aka Aqualass aka Aquawoman. While out on a training session, Jackson and Andy are mysteriously transported to another Earth through the Confluence, a portal that connects all oceans on all world. As Jackson and Andy hop from world to world, trying to find their way home, they're eventually separated, and Jackson is captured when he believes Andy is killed. Or is she?

Was It Good?

Surprisingly, yes. My expectations have been pretty low with the Aquaman title over the last couple of years, but this one's a keeper. The art is great, especially the designs of alien aquatic life and sentient races on an assortment of worlds. 

Storywise, this could have been put out as a main Aquaman story as none of the Future State timeline wonkiness plays a factor here. You know it's the future because Arthur and Mera's daughter is a teenager, but other than her aging up, this could easily have been a strong start to an Elseworlds story.

Short Story Long


We begin with an older Jackson Hyde (the current Aquaman) escaping a Neptunian prison. He's eventually chased down and captured by sharkriders on sharks that don't look like anything on Earth. Before he's captured, he sees something in the distance that pushes him into hysterical laughter as he's dragged down.

Immediately, this reviewer is struck with the quality of the art. The coloring, shading, anatomy, and panel angles are dramatic and powerful. 

Cut to what looks like a throne room with Jackson in chains. The warden (?) (names and titles are never entirely given) questions Jackson, and Jackson fully answers every question. Apparently, in all the time Jackson has been a prisoner in this version of Neptune, he's not spoken or said very little, but now he's ready to tell his tale.

Flas back to six years earlier. Jackson and Andy are treading water after their boat was attacked and capsized during a Black Manta escape. Through their dialog, we learn Jackson is tasked with protecting and training Andy, and her blossoming teenage angst is none too pleased. In her anger over their argument, she let slip that one of her powersets is controlling, not just communicating with aquatic life.

Jackson calms Andy down, and they begin to hash things out when the ocean and air suddenly flips. Admittedly, this part was a bit jarring because they notice a change, and you see it in the next panel, but it quietly happens randomly. Jackson says he felt a shift, but you never see it. The transition would have made more sense if the artists had given us some visual queue to get on board with the shift.

Jackson and Andy swim around to get their bearings and see all kinds of life and features that are not of this Earth. Eventually, they see what looks like a patchwork of multi-color holes in the ocean floor, and they mistakenly went through it. Again, this is hard to understand because they were motionless when they flipped. Are the holes moving? Did they swim through a hole and not realize it? How could you miss a huge, multi-dimensional hole? Bah!

What follows is a quick vignette montage where they travel from ocean to ocean on one world after another. Eventually, they encounter a massive ocean beast on one of the worlds the size of a small island. They try to get away, but it snags them. Jackson manages to get loose and tries to free Andy, but she sees it's useless and severs her leg to force him to escape rather than allow him to hang on.

This might be the only big down of the issue. If Andy could create a water blade with her hand, why didn't she sever the beast's tentacle wrapped around her? It doesn't make sense, and while the issue very good overall, resolving this plot hole would have invalidated everything that comes after.

Back to the throne room, the warden offers to purge Jackson of his pain with their technology. Jackson refuses the offer and breaks his chains. He realizes that he's allowed himself to be kept prisoner because the pain from failing to protect Andy took away any sense of purpose. Whatever he saw in the ocean during his last escape renewed his hope, and he easily breaks his chains. As the issue ends and Jackson starts fighting the guards to escape, we see in his mind that what he saw in the ocean was a bubble message that said "Aquawoman Lives."

Bits and Pieces:

Future State: Aquaman #1 is filled with great art, great action, intensely emotional moments, and an exciting Sliders/Quantum Leap-esque story with an edge. Despite only a few plot holes, the story is well-constructed, and I'm hooked to see what happens next. Where the heck was Brandon Thomas when the regular Aquaman title was running?!?


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