Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Aquaman: The Becoming #5 Review

Jackson Hyde plays hero... in the next issue

Written by: Brandon Thomas
Art by: Paul Pelletier, Diego Olortegui, Norm Rapmund, Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors by: Adriano Lucas
Letters by: Andworld Design
Cover art by: David Talaski
Cover price: $3.99
Release date: January 18, 2022

Aquaman: The Becoming #5 reveals secrets and lies while a plan to scuttle the Reunification talks between Xebel and Atlantis comes to fruition. Can Jackson Hyde save Mera and the delegation from a deadly terrorist plot?
Was It Good?

There's a lot to work through in Aquaman: The Becoming #5, but let's settle this up front. If your intention reading this mini was to learn more about Jackson Hyde, the hero he already is, and the journey he goes through to assuming the mantle of Aquaman (when there already is an active Aquaman?!?), this ain't it, Pally. It wouldn't be accurate to say I "hate" this issue, but it is fair to say I'm aggressively frustrated and annoyed with this comic.

"What's the problem?," you ask. "Do you have a problem with creators taking their time and letting the story get to where it needs to go?" you chide.

Oy! There's a difference between letting the story go where it needs to go for the main character, and having a story where the main character is almost entirely inconsequential to the story. I made this critique in the review for the last issue. Thomas isn't telling a Jackson Hyde story. He's telling a story about Xebel oppression VERY heavily drawn from modern American socio-political strife.

When people complain about using a comic as a platform to express their ideological views about real-world politics and social ills at the expense of the main character, fun, adventure, excitement, and good old fashioned storytelling, this issue is exhibit A.

[Spoilers Ahead]

The big "wow" moment centers around Jackson's mother. We figure out the videos of her executing government officials are fake. It's not clear why anyone was surprised by this when the identical tech was used by his own sister to frame Jackson for a bomb attack in Atlantis. It's also not clear why Jackson's mother chose not to say anything in her own defense before the discovery was made.

Next, Jackson's sister is, out of the blue, acting like a friendly, chummy older sister. Again, this is the same person who framed Jackson as a terrorist so he would come home. Less than a day later, the two are hanging out in a Xebel diner and talking as if they've somehow developed a trusting relationship.

Beyond the mismash of wildly misplaced scenes in this issue (why are there kids getting on and off a school bus dressed like they're going to school in the Fall??? You'll know it when you see it.), Thomas writes these characters behaving unnaturally in ways that don't make sense. There's no reason for Lucia to play coy with her past when it's already been exposed, but she does so dogmatically. There's no reason for Jackson to be chummy with a half-fanatical sister he only just discovered existed, yet he does so with barely any hesitation. The characters don't act like people, and that's the greatest failure in this issue.

Later, we find out the culprit behind the killings and Lucia's framing is Meeka. The more you dig into the details of how and why, the less sense it makes. Was all this Rube Goldberg level of machinations necessary simply to get Jackson to come to Xebel? Did they honestly think he would willingly become part of a terrorist plot to kill Mera? Why are they trying to stop the Reunification talks in the first place if the entire reason Meeka's merry band of terrorists exists is to stop the Xebellian government from conscripting its citizens for a war that may never come?

What was the point of all this? The more you read through the issue, the more it feels like Thomas took a collection of headlines from CNN over the last two years to say "Look! Things in Xebel are bad. Oppression is bad. Governments are bad. Poverty is bad. Now that I've shown you how bad things are and how violently desperate Xebels citizens have become, let's send Jackson-whats-his-face in to fix it in the last issue with his muscles and pretty eyes."

Again... Oy! What a waste.

Make sure to listen to our Weekly DC Comics Recap and Review Podcast to hear us talk more about this book.  Just look up "Weird Science DC Comics" anywhere you listen to podcasts, and make sure to rate, review, and subscribe!

Bit and Pieces

Aquaman: The Becoming #5 is a wasted opportunity to take one of the newer and popular characters from DC Comics and actually do something meaningful to build his character up. Instead, the main character is barely an influence on his own story. If you wanted to get to know Jackson Hyde and find out why he deserves to be the next Aquaman, this ain't it.


No comments:

Post a Comment