All this month we’re posting up articles exploring the queer side of comics in celebration of LGBT History Month. Today we’re taking a look and a rising star of DC comics, Jackson Hyde.
Jackson Hyde – most commonly known as Aqualad – is an half-Atlantean, half-Human, with hydrokinetic powers in addition to all of the enhanced physical abilities and senses that his Atlantean physiology provides. He is most often depicted the son of the supervillain Black Manta and a Xebelian women, Lucia. When Lucia learned of her partners villainous ways she took her son and hid him on the surface so that the supervillain could not find him and bring him up to use his powers for evil. Versions of Jackson have been members of the Teen Titans and Young Justice, as we as serving as a sidekick to Aquaman. In the DC Future State event (January-February 2021) that showcased potential heroes of the future he has become the new Aquaman, with Andy – the daughter of the original Aquaman and Mera – serving as his sidekick, Aqualass.
Jackson has had rough time of it in the books over the last 10 years and regular retcons and continuity shifts and moved him around the board without really giving him the chance to settle in. However he is set to be a major played in the DC Infinite continuity launching in March 2021nso we are looking forward to seeing this strong gay man leading a book.
Earth-Prime: Brightest Day #4 (Aug 2010)
In the pre-Flashpoint continuity Jackson Hyde is introduced into the comics as part of the 2010 event series Brightest Day. He is introduced as part of a complex quest given out to 12 dead characters after the Blackest Night event who are each given the chance to undertake an epic quest, which is completed will return them to life. Aquaman is tasked with ensuring that the new Aqualad joins the side of heroes and does not side with his evil father. In this continuity Jackson is first shown as having no idea of his powers and actively afraid of water. His powers are activated and his lineage revealed to him over the course of the year-long event,
The Flashpoint event happened not long after this series so Jackson does not get much more time in the comics before the New 52 continuity arrives and he is written out of the books until DC Rebirth 6 years later.
Earth-16: Young Justice (Nov 2010)
At the same time as the Brightest Day comic was on the stands, the Young Justice cartoon began. Within the DC Multiverse the show takes place on Earth-16 and introduces a character called Kaldur’ahm – a powerful Atlantean warrior who becomes leader of the new Young Justice team and eventually of the Justice League itself. This version of the character was ground breaking for presenting a gay male kiss on screen in season 3 and showing that a strong male character and leader could also be in a homosexual relationship.
DC Rebirth #1 / Teen Titans #6 (2016)
Jackson did not appear in the rebooted New 52 continuity, but when the timelines began to merge after Titans Hunt and the return of Wally West, Jackson returned and in this new continuity he became a member of the Teen Titans. He is first introduced in DC Rebirth #1 which hints at all the major storylines to come. We meet Jackson here in an antagonistic relationship with his mother who is less upset at him for openly using his superpower than she is for him being gay. In issue #6 of the Teen Titans he joins the new team and remains with them up until the Drowned Earth event where he leaves the team to go and work with Aquaman in order to develop his powers.
You Brought Me The Ocean
As part of DC’s expanding range of Young Adult standalone graphic novels, 2019’s You Brought Me The Ocean
Jake Hyde doesn’t swim not since his father drowned. Luckily, he lives in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, which is in the middle of the desert, yet he yearns for the ocean and is determined to leave his hometown for a college on the coast. But his best friend, Maria, wants nothing more than to make a home in the desert, and Jake s mother encourages him to always play it safe. Yet there s nothing safe about Jakes future not when he’s attracted to Kenny Liu, swim team captain and rebel against conformity. And certainly not when he secretly applies to Miami University. Jakes life begins to outpace his small town s namesake, which doesn’t make it any easier to come out to his mom, or Maria, or the world. But Jake is full of secrets, including the strange blue markings on his skin that glow when in contact with water. What power will he find when he searches for his identity, and will he turn his back to the current or dive head first into the waves?
Future State: Aquaman #1 (Jan, 2021)
In the current Future State comics, Jackson is seen to have taken over the mantle of Aquaman from his past mentor and is serving as the protector of the seas. At time of writing only the first issue of this story has come out so there has been no mention yet of Jackson’s sexuality in this continuity, but previous DC marketing has noted that he was and will be a gay character.
As is perhaps fitting for a water-based superhero, Jackson’s sexuality has been fluid throughout his appearances. This is fairly common within the DC Multiverse as many different version of characters exist simultaneously so relationships and sexualities are not fixed across all occurrences of a character. His initial introduction in Brightest Day he is shown as a having an on/off girlfriend called Moira and later on to have crush on another female character.
However, his Earth-16 version in the Young Justice cartoon it is indicated that he is bisexual because while in early episodes it is hinted that he is attracted to Tula, however by the end of the series – once he has taken over as King of Atlantis – he is shown to be in a relationship with a male guard member.
In the DC Rebirth continuity Jackson is introduced as a gay character and is in an interracial relationship. His relationship with his boyfriend doesn’t last after his powers manifest however and later he is shown as having developed feelings for his straight friend Kid Flash.