BY MATT TUCK
Brandon Thomas and Daniel Sampere are building a modern masterpiece with the tour de force, Future State Aquaman.
FUTURE STATE AQUAMAN #2
Written by Brandon Thomas
Art by Daniel Sampere
As I finished the final panel of Aquaman #2, I only had one word - wow.
This truly has been an impressive combination of writing and artwork. Only two issues into this run, and Thomas and Sampere have put together what has been the best Future State series on the market. The only series that is equal to it may be Last Ronin. It is that good.
DC Comics has been batting 1.000 with their Future State titles, and Future State Aquaman is shaping up to be its cleanup hitter. That is a high compliment, considering the standard set by the likes of Next Batman, Teen Titans, Dark Detective and Wonder Woman.
In the first issue, Thomas and Sampere managed to merge Aquaman’s undersea adventures with the cosmos in the most intriguing of ways. They invented the Confluence, basically Future State’s version of Marvel’s Nexus of Realities. Through this ocean that connects all manner of worlds and dimensions, the former Aqualad and Aqualass find themselves lost in time and space. As they wander the Confluence, they mature and grow into the mold set before them by Arthur Curry.
Where Aquaman #2 exceeds its predecessor is by raising the emotional stakes. At the conclusion of the first issue, we bear witness to Andy, the former Aqualass, as her leg is torn off by the Great Beast, a mythical creature of the Confluence. Issue #2 begins with a gorgeous shot of Andy lying on an alien beach, bleeding out from her severed leg. Prowling in the surf are the curious and form-fluid glimmerfish. As Andy begs for help, Sampere expertly captures her torment as she cries out to the glimmerfish. Only they don’t help. Instead, they tell her it will be six months before they can make a decision, which comes across as a subtle jab toward the modern healthcare system.
In her agony and desperation, Andy calls upon her control of sea creatures and unwittingly commandeers a glimmerfish, forcing it to take the form of her missing limb. It saves her life, but at the cost of abducting a sentient creature to serve her, thus robbing the glimmerfish of its freewill. Communicating telepathically, the remaining glimmerfish demand she return their brethren, to which she promises to give him back as soon as she completes her undefined task. From there, the glimmerfish haunt her every moment, taunting all her efforts to survive on their island. It creates a moral dilemma for Andy. While the guilt mounts, she keeps delaying her empty promise to return the glimmerfish that has become a part of her very body. For six years, she makes the same promise, though we know it is already broken. The thing is, Andy is broken, too, and that makes her such a wonderful and relatable character.
What cannot be overstated is the immaculate scenes Sampere draws in every panel. Page after page, he is creating masterful portraits with colors that grab your attention as much as the superb writing. The achingly beautiful backdrops become the perfect canvas for this wonderful story that is unfolding before us.
Thomas is playing a bigger game here, and this issue is hinting that he is cleverly telling a villain’s origin story. He is slowly molding her into the role of sympathetic antagonist, and it is engrossing. We can see her struggling with her choices, though in the end, she tends to put her own needs above those of others. As her leg was ripped from her body, so was she ripped from her home, and it has filled her with rage and an overwhelming urgency to survive that justifies her questionable actions. She is shaping up to be the antithesis to Jackson Hyde’s Aquaman, and Andy could very well become an outstanding villain who could rank above Ocean Master or even Black Manta.
This journey may turn out to be more about Andy’s progression down a dark path, and that will make for a modern-classic run.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is also a teacher, freelance writer, comic collector, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.