In addition to jumping into the near future of DC’s comics, the publisher’s Future State line is set to introduce updated versions of classic heroes, some of whom are characters we know from the past who have taken on new mantles, powers, and responsibilities in the years to come. Aqualad Jackson Hyde has been a mainstay of teams like the Teen Titans, and an invaluable asset to Arthur Curry during his tenure as Aquaman, but now he has a new duty.
In writer Brandon Thomas and artist Daniel Sampere’s Future State: Aquaman, it’s Jackson who bears the Aquaman title as he embarks on a new journey alongside Arthur and Mera’s now-grown daughter Andy. Future State: Aquaman introduces us to these versions of Jackson and Andy at a point after the world’s been rattled by an event involving the previous Aquaman that’s at least partially responsible for why the ocean’s still a dangerous place.
When we spoke with Thomas by email this week about the series, he explained how, even though the new series is focused on Jackson’s adventures, Andy’s presence is actually a key component to the strange world explored in Future State. Much as the two water-breathers might not see eye to eye, Thomas elaborated, their bond is going to be what makes them the heroes that Future State needs.
Charles Pulliam-Moore, io9: Future State’s all about establishing a new status quo in DC’s future—what does that mean about Jackson’s new title as the Aquaman that sets this series apart from other DC stories where we’ve seen him take on the mantle after Arthur Curry?
Brandon Thomas: Andy makes everything different here. Having to carry the mantle and the history connected to it is one thing, but being entrusted with the safety and development of THE most important thing in her parents’ lives is another. You’re talking a level of responsibility that just feels immense every time Jackson suits up and goes to work with Andy at his side.
He is fighting hard to live up to the name, but those thoughts have become entirely secondary in recent months. Jackson’s main mission every day is get Andy back home to her parents, no matter what, no matter how. Having a young, headstrong apprentice wasn’t something Jackson was prepared for, and that’s definitely manifested in their relationship in some unpleasant ways.
io9: Beyond being a classic experienced hero/relative newcomer duo, what sort of dynamics define Jackson and Andy’s relationship? How do they see one another, and how do they make each other stronger?
Thomas: The main dynamic between them is conflict. Neither of them is particularly thrilled to be attached to the other, and there’s a definite brother/sister vibe happening, and Andy is at the age where she’s probably the most annoying, and judgmental, and mean she’s ever going to get. She does not think Jackson deserves to be Aquaman, she hates her current codename Aqualass—Andy’s a real handful when our story picks up, which makes writing them together a lot of fun. Really up in the air whether either of them is making the other stronger or more effective, but that’s what The Confluence is there to provide—some much-needed clarity about what they should mean to each other.
io9: Without giving anything away, what’s the significance of the Confluence teased in this first issue? Should readers think of this as Aquaman’s answer to the Speed Force or the Green?
Thomas: Definitely in that vein, and another point of reference to consider is The Bleed. Imagine if every ocean on every world in every dimension was connected somehow, and you could use that crossing as a way to travel back and forth…if you know what you’re doing. Which, unfortunately, Jackson and Andy do not, and once they stumble inside, things quickly turn into one of those classic, life-changing adventures that will test their partnership like never before.
io9: With this being a new era for Jackson and Andy, what were the things about their powers can readers expect to see in the series’ illustrations?
Thomas: Andy is sporting a new ability that is very similar to one her father has, but with one very important distinction that comes into play during the story. On top of that, this is definitely going to be a place where both of them are unleashed in several ways, and using their powers with a discipline and maturity that we haven’t seen from them in previous appearances.
Experiencing that through the lens of Daniel Sampere and Adriano Lucas’s amazing artwork, in addition to watching them go on this interdimensional journey, filled with gorgeous locales and constant dangers, feels like this big secret we’ve been keeping from everyone else, but soon everyone gets to learn why we’ve been so excited while working on this. You always want to end a project feeling like you’ve made some new friends, and that’s definitely the vibe we all felt putting this story together. Cannot wait to finally share.
Future State: Aquaman #1 drops on January 26.
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