By Matt Tuck
Future State: Aquaman #1 put a cosmic spin on an oceanic adventure while Black Panther battled a Phoenix-infused Man-Thing in Avengers #41. Check out today’s edition of Frankie’s Reviews.
PICK OF THE WEEK:
FUTURE STATE: AQUAMAN #1
By and large, DC Comics’ Future State has been a hit with most fans.
The premise is that it is a flash forward to the future of DC’s heavy hitters. In the end, this will go down as another alternate timeline, but it gives the creative teams a chance to explore possibilities that would not be available inside the Earth One canon. Like Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, DC’s Future State gives the writers and artists a chance to try some new spins on old concepts.
Such is the case with Future State: Aquaman #1, which was a pleasant surprise this week. When this issue was recommended to me, I was not expecting much. I have never been an Aquaman fan, and alternate timelines can get a bit redundant. This comic delivered on multiple levels.
This story has an interesting sci-fi take on Aquaman. As typical with Future State titles, Arthur Curry has been replaced by his Aqualad protege, Jackson Hyde.
When I turned the first page, I expected a standard Aquaman journey. Instead, I found a new Aquaman and Aquawoman (as she emphatically corrects Jackson) who have stumbled into the Confluence, an ocean that connects time and space. Together, they traverse this interdimensional ocean, facing nightmarish monsters as they discover a literal ocean of alien worlds.
The heart of the story is one of loss, regret, and reconciliation. Our new Aquaman must forgive himself for a tragic mistake in order to be whole again. In the story, Aquaman has been captured by an advanced race who offer to free Jackson of his emotional pain by helping him forget the past. It then becomes an allegory of the need to accept your losses in order to heal and grow as a person.
In all, this was a clever take on a classic character that managed to combine the nautical with the cosmic. Once I opened this issue, I did not want to put it down. The cinematic artwork captured the movie quality of the story, and the dialogue was not overbearing while still delivering the right emotional beats. I’ll be looking forward to the second issue and seeing where this is going as Brandon Thomas and Daniel Sampere take us deeper into the Confluence.
Action fans will rejoice in Jason Aaron’s Phoenix storyline. This issue felt like a “What If…?” comic with everyone from Shang-Chi and Black Panther to Hyperion and Howard the Duck possessing the Phoenix Force. For a Chris Claremont purist like myself, seeing Howard control the Phoenix Force was sacrilege. In many ways, it felt like a “Venomized” storyline come to life only with the Phoenix Force in place of a symbiotic costume. At times, it intentionally bordered on the absurdly comical, which hit their marks as often as they missed.
The premise of the Phoenix Force pitting superheroes and villains against one another is worthy of “Contest of Champions,” but I am not sure that it makes for the most emotionally gripping Avengers story. Overall, this issue felt aimed at video game fans and readers looking for a more casual experience with fantasy matchups galore.
This was a passable issue, and I liked the clear build toward a Black Panther/Phoenix Force showdown. Namor’s positioning as T’Challa’s eventual “final boss” hammered home the idea that this is more or less a video game wrapped in a comic book. At any rate, it was good enough to make me at least give it one more issue before deciding if I want to invest my time in this story arc.
I will have more comic reviews for you at the end of the week. Drop a comment on social media or send some recommendations to my Facebook page, The Comic Blog.