As a new story begins, the issue opens on Del Sur Penitentiary where we see that the prison walls have been literally ripped open and are dripping with water. Cutting to the coast of San Francisco, Robin stands on the water’s edge viewing a news report about the escaped prison convicts. As a green pelican lands at his feet, the bird turns into Beast Boy and asks Damian what he’s doing. Responding that he’s playing, Gar begins to question him when Goliath flies out of the water carrying a seaweed covered log. As the two heroes walk back to Titans Tower, the panel lingers briefly on a sea lion as it quickly pulled under the water.
Inside the Tower, the Teen Titans have gathered to eat as Beast Boy offers up a tofu platter which he has cooked. Quickly looking to help, Kid Flash speeds off to Central City and returns with several pizzas. As the Titans begin to dig in, an alarm sounds signalling a perimeter breach. As several defensive turrets spring into life, Damian barely yells out “Titans…Go!” before the “intruders” are revealed as news reporters. Forgetting about their arrival, Beast Boy apologizes. Taking the crew on a tour of the tower, Beast Boy introduces Raven, Starfire, Kid Flash and Robin.
As the story shifts to New Mexico, we are introduced to Jackson Hyde…a water wielding teenager who is busy manipulating the H2O from his fish tank. As his mother enters his room and yells at him for playing with his abilities, she reminds him she made a promise to keep him safe.
Back in San Francisco, Beast Boy says goodbye to the reporter and begins to flirt with her…however, when his back is turned she is quickly pulled under the water and disappears. Cutting back to New Mexico, Jackson is sitting on the hood of a truck with his boyfriend Kenny and the two are discussing how Kenny’s father is beginning to suspect his son of being gay. While Jackson tells him to come out to his father, the conversation quickly turns to the news report regarding the tour of Titans Tower. Wanting to show his powers, Jackson begins manipulating the water from a bottle…however this freaks Kenny out who storms off and subsequently tells Jackson they’re over.
Returning to San Francisco, we see that the reporter Bonnie has been imprisoned in a facility beneath Alcatraz Island but we are unable to see who…or what has taken her hostage. In a series of panels that follow, we see Jackson Hyde packing up his belongings and leaving New Mexico behind and eventually arriving off the coast of Titans Tower. Meanwhile, the Titans themselves have been patrolling the Frisco bay in search of the missing reporter. As Robin orders Beast Boy (currently transformed into a sea lion) to search under water, the boat they are on is suddenly attacked by the vicious King Shark.
One of the best things that I have to give props to Benjamin Percy on is his character moments. And this issue is full of them. This issue isn’t exactly action packed, but we get to see the Titans as what they truly are: teenagers. Beast Boy is truly the class clown as he often shows up in various comedic animal forms; however I found it interesting that he is vegan. Not that there is anything against it, but I think it shows that Beast Boy has a real connection with animal forms and seeks to not endanger them. Damian (as I’ve written before) is portrayed as the leader and is constantly on the lookout for trouble. However it was nice to see him playing with Goliath (even if he was watching the news in between stick throws) and playing video games later on. We don’t get to see much of Starfire, Raven or Kid Flash in this issue as a large chunk is taken up by our latest introduction – Jackson Hyde.
Jackson Hyde (aka Aqualad) was originally introduced in the animated television series “Young Justice” where he was an Atlantean known as Kaldur’ahm. Kaldur eventually jumped into DC continuity during the event known as “Brightest Day” but became Jackson Hyde. Both of these incarnations were eventually revealed to be the (SPOILERS) son of the villain known as Black Manta. In this issue we are introduced to the post Rebirth Jackson Hyde who now bears and striking design resemblance to the “Young Justice” Kaldur’ahm. One new addition however, is the characters homosexuality. Being gay myself, it is great to see that DC is introducing these characters into their mainstream continuity. We see that Jackson is truly fascinated by his powers and wants to do something important with them. When talking to his boyfriend Kenny, he seems almost obsessed with showing him his hydrokinetic abilities instead of talking over a serious topic. Coming out to one’s parents is no easy feat, and Jackson seems to brush off Kenny’s insecurities just to show off. I don’t blame Kenny whatsoever for freaking out and walking away…not cool, Jackson, not cool at all. One thing that I am hoping for is that Jackson’s homosexuality isn’t brushed off and forgotten as it happened to the New 52 Alan Scott in the pages of “Earth 2.” That character had a husband for all of two minutes before he was killed off and forgotten. This could also be a chance to show off a strong, gay relationship since we lost the amazing Kate/Maggie relationship in “Batwoman.” Maybe bring back Bunker from the old Teen Titans??? Who knows, but I am cautiously optimistic in terms of this new aquatic hero.
Although not much happened, this issue opens some doors to some interesting story lines. Who or what has kidnapped Bonnie the reporter? Is it King Shark? Or is he being manipulated by someone else? Also, will Jackson/Kaldur’s past relationship with Black Manta be repeated in this new continuity? And if so, what other similarities will we see? Aqualad was the leader of the team on “Young Justice” so will Jackson also be a strong personality and will that clash Damian?
Who knows if these questions will be answered? But I can definitely say that I am looking forward to finding out. Percy has been doing an excellent job on “Teen Titans” and his partner Khoi Pham has done a great job in showcasing the teen super heroes…even if they were just eating pizza and playing with their oversized were-manbats. I think we will be in for a treat with the introduction of Aqualad as his water powers will definitely be something to behold and Pham is definitely up for that challenge.