DC Comics is getting ready to reboot its superhero universe (again), with Wednesday’s DC Universe: Rebirth No. 1, which will see changes major and minor to heroes, villains and supporting characters.
Some have already been announced—Superman has an adolescent son, Wonder Woman has a twin brother, the Justice Society is returning. But in a preview of Rebirth on Newsarama, we meet a new version of Aqualad who’s gay.
The character of Aqualad, traditionally Aquaman’s teen sidekick, debuted in 1960. He was Garth, a mutant outcast from Atlantis who joined up with Robin, Wonder Girl and Kid Flash as the crime-fighting Teen Titans.
After some time, Garth graduated to become Tempest, with more magical-based powers.
In 2010, DC introduced a new African-American Aqualad, Jackson Hyde, in both the comics and the Young Justice cartoon on Cartoon Network. This version could manipulate water and was the son of Aquaman foe Black Manta.
But when DC rebooted its comics universe in 2011, Jackson was erased. Now, it seems, he’s back.
In Rebirth, we see a young black man identified as “Jackson” being confronted by his mother, who says what he does isn’t “normal.”
When he asks if she means what he can do in the water, she says “no, I’m talking about the boys.”
“It’s not boys, mom, it’s boy. As in my boyfriend,” he replies, staring into an aquarium. “And in all of this, its who I am—even if I don’t know why.”
The previous Jackson Hyde had an on-again, off-again girlfriend, but he was around so briefly it’s no clear if having him come out later was the editors’ intention.
He wouldn’t be the first gay titan: Miguel Jose Barragan, a.k.a. Bunker, was an out-and-proud Latino hero during the last run of Teen Titans. It’s not clear if Bunker will reappear in the DC Rebirth universe.
Whether the new Jackson Hyde will join the Teen Titans—or perhaps make an appearance in the upcoming Aquaman movie starring Jason Momoa remains to be seen.