Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Aquaman: The Becoming #4 Review

Secrets Are Revealed And Ripped From Today's Headlines!

Written by: Brandon Thomas
Art by: Scott Koblish, Wade von Grawbadger
Colors by: Adriano Lucas
Letters by: Andworld Design
Cover price: $3.99
Release date: December 28, 2021

Aquaman: The Becoming #4 uncovers the truth about Jackson Hyde's mother and the bloody path taken by those who have rebelled against Xebel's government. Will Jackson Hyde embrace his Xebellian heritage or turn his back on his legacy forever?
Was It Good? 

Aquaman: The Becoming #4 is well written with decent art and a story that reveals the secret(s) of Jackson's mother's past. Structurally, it's a solid comic. That said, I'm not too fond of it for two reasons.

First (and this is a reason that's a matter of taste rather than objective critique), Thomas is leaning HARD into the "ripped from the headlines" motif with a deep look into Xebel socio-political goings-on. We have "peaceful protests" turning violent. We have anti-fascist organizations doing the wrong things and justifying it by being on the "right side of history". And we get commentary on immigration and racism. 

Is it wrong to talk about these things in a comic? No, not at all. Does it make for an entertaining comic? No, not at all. Again, this is a point of personal preference. Still, 
where's the fun? Where's the excitement? Where's the adventure? If that's why you love comics, this isn't the title for you.

Second, (this reason falls more into formal critique) Jackson is written as a reactive character after four issues so far. As we've seen on multiple titles, reactive characters are not sustainable because they don't show you who they are. They're only a particular reflection of what's going on around them. If you took Jackson Hyde out of this comic, it almost wouldn't make a difference because he isn't participating in the story. He has no agency. No direction. No purpose other than to respond when other characters do things.

The promise of a title focused on Jackson Hyde becoming the next Aquaman was that readers would get to know him, understand what makes him tick, and feel confident that Arthur's choice of successor was the right won. As it stands now, Thomas seems more intent on telling a story about Xebel that looks like a mirror image of Chicago (for example), where Jackson is a supporting character in his book.

Bits and Pieces

Aquaman: The Becoming #4 is a well-drawn and well-structured comic, but the creators fall short by forcing a  "ripped from the headlines" narrative that doesn't focus enough on the main character.  If you're looking for an exciting adventure that shows why Jackson Hyde is worthy enough to be the next Aquaman, this isn't it.


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