There’s been quite a bit of internet hubbub about the new Aqualad, some of it focused on the upcoming “Young Justice” cartoon and some of it is pointed to “Brightest Day.” Some of the hubbub has been positive, some distinctly venomous. One thing is for certain though: there’s a new Aqualad in town and he gets a chance to shine right here. Finch’s cover depicts young Jackson Hyde putting the hurt of Deadman, but Deadman steers clear of this issue (not the first cover of this series to provide a fake out).
What we get instead is an issue balanced between the tale of the pre-destined Aqualad and the fate of the fury of Firestorm.
What had previously seemed like inconsistent use of Jackson Hyde is addressed in this issue. In issue #4, Jackson Hyde was introduced to the reader, and we saw that Jackson has an aversion to water, but last issue Jackson was shown celebrating his connection with water in the midst of a thunderstorm. As it turns out, Jackson changes near water – something we saw last issue – and is well aware of this. Jackson’s real father (again revealed last issue) comes calling, which sparks a fabulous adventure sequence. The confrontation between Jackson and his father sets up a battle between Aquaman and one of his greatest foes. That scrum doesn’t happen in the pages of this issue, but it is going to be a slobberknocker when it does happen.
The art in the Aquaman/Aqualad sequences is as strong as any art has been in this series to this point, but it gets outshined in this issue by Scott Clark’s work on the Firestorm story. Clark’s work is perfectly matched for the story of the Nuclear Man as the next step in Firestorm’s evolution comes to play. Clark’s pages are intricately detailed, and they receive a natural boost from Steigerwald and Starr who provide luminescence to Firestorm’s abilities and appearance. Stunning artwork. It’s nice to have a comic with multiple artists that is an assembly of awesomeness rather than a haphazard patchwork amalgamation of mismatched talent.
I know some people (some of whom include some of my fellow reviewers) have been less than impressed with the progress and the stories laid out in “Brightest Day,” but I disagree.
“Brightest Day” has hit the point in the story where each character’s purpose is defined, but they are trying to determine how they got to this point and how they are to achieve that purpose identified for them. The end result is that Johns and Tomasi have started limiting the content, choosing to focus on a smaller portion of the “Brightest Day” cast, giving the reader a chance to learn more about the characters. This has allowed the stories to leg it out a bit more, but it also leaves me pining for more at the end of each issue. The downside to that is that I’m unsure when the next Hawkman installment is going to be or when that next Firestorm fix will pop up. Luckily for me, I’m enjoying the tales of all the heroes in this title, so it’s a plethora of nice problems to have right now.