Teen superhero Aqualad comes out in new YA graphic novel from DC Comics

DC Comics’ first teen superhero has gone through many iterations. The first teen hero to bear the name “Aqualad” was an Atlantis native named Garth. The Garth version of the character eventually added sorcerous powers to his aquatic ones, and took on the name Tempest. He went on to have his own self-titled mini-series and an increasingly prominent member of the adult Titans team. He was also a regular supporting character in the Teen Titans animated series and has appeared in the live action Titans show.

Following the launch of the Young Justice animated series, which introduced its own version of Aqualad – a water-manipulating black teen called Kaldur’ahm – a similar version appeared in the main comics continuity. This Aqualad, real name Jackson Hyde, would soon come out as gay – and he’s now the basis of DC’s latest Young Adult graphic novel, You Brought Me the Ocean.

Sanchez (the Rainbow trilogy) and illustrator Julie Maroh (Blue Is the Warmest Colour) brings us the story of Jake Hyde’s first love. Set in the New Mexico desert during Jake’s senior year of high school, Jake yearns for the ocean and is determined to possibly attend a college on a coast. 

Jake secretly finds himself attracted to Kenny Liu, a swim team captain and rebel against conformity. Jake’s sexuality isn’t his only secret — He’s also got strange blue markings on his skin that glow when he comes in contact with the water.

“This story will allow readers to delve deep into the conflicts of being both a teen and super-powered—and what it’s like to be friends with a super-powered teen,” Sanchez said in a statement in Entertainment Weekly. 

I believe it will be the type of book that fans will read twice — the first time, compelled to turn pages to find out what happens next, and the second time to linger over Julie’s spectacularly beautiful imagery. I hope the book will do what graphic novels do best — tell a story on two levels — through words and art.

Alex Sanchez, Author

“I’m particularly excited and proud to see this book coming to life in a crucial decade for LGBTQ+ rights,” says Maroh, whose warm palette and humanistic art help distinguish the book from normal superhero comics.

Lives of gay, queer, and trans people of color are particularly at stake. I sincerely hope that this book will bring light and strength to the daily life of whoever suffers due to discrimination or just feels different.

Julie Maroh, Illustrator

You Brought Me the Ocean debuts today, and is available wherever books are sold.

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Kyle Jackson

Kyle Jackson (He/Him) is Senior Staff Writer at Gray Jones Media, and additionally works as a writer, editor and theatre artist/actor. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, he studied at Dillard University, received a BA in Theatre from Morgan State University, an MS in Arts Administration from Drexel University, and completed the British American Drama Academy’s Midsummer in Oxford Programme in 2017. Having lived in Baltimore, the Washington, DC area, Philadelphia and New York City, he now resides and works in London, United Kingdom.