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Kaldur'ahm, or Kaldur for short, is one of two fictional superheroes codenamed Aqualad and Aquaman in media published by DC Entertainment. The character was created by Brandon Vietti, Greg Weisman and Phil Bourassa for the television series Young Justice, and voiced by Khary Payton. His name is a reference to the character Calvin "Cal" Durham (the character's foster father), formerly a henchman of the supervillain Black Manta (the character's biological father) who was sent to infiltrate Atlantis, but defected to the Atlanteans.
|First appearance||Young Justice|
"Independence Day (November 26 2010)"
|First comic appearance||Brightest Day #4 (August 2010)|
|Created by||Brandon Vietti|
|Place of origin||Atlantis|
|Team affiliations||Young Justice|
|Notable aliases||Jackson Hyde|
The character was originally developed for television, but DC quickly moved to adapt the character into its mainstream comic book, with Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis' interpretation of the character debuting under the name Jackson Hyde in Brightest Day #4 (August 2010), some months ahead of his eventual TV debut. For television, creators were able to tell a story where Aqualad had known and worked with Aquaman for many years, while the comic book version had to be introduced to Aquaman and readers at the same time, meaning aspects of his backstory had to be changed. After less than a year of appearances in comic books, DC relaunched its comic book line and began retelling Aquaman's story largely from scratch, which meant Aqualad scarcely appeared at all between 2011 and 2016. In 2016, Aqualad was reintroduced, appearing as a slightly younger, openly gay teenager. The animated version of the character was also revealed to be polysexual, maintaining the character's prominence as an LGBTQ superhero.
Fictional character biographyEdit
In the Young Justice animated series, Aqualad (voiced by Khary Payton) was first seen as the protege of Aquaman. He was later unanimously elected by the team to be their leader after their first mission together, as he was perceived as having good leadership skills. In-between seasons one and two of the series, he uncovered he was in fact the son of Black Manta. Because the character was originally created for the animated series before being brought into Brightest Day, he has a different origin from his comic book counterpart, including being a citizen of Atlantis who developed his powers in a year studying Atlantean sorcery. Though he still maintains the birth name of Kaldur’ahm, he does not use the Jackson Hyde alias created for the comics. He is portrayed as the most mature member of the group. The episode "Downtime" reveals that he and his friend Garth had saved Aquaman's life during a battle with Ocean Master. Aquaman offered to take on both teens as his proteges, but Garth chose to remain in Atlantis to continue his studies in sorcery, while Kaldur chose to travel with Aquaman and become Aqualad. He also had an interest in a girl named Tula, who became involved with Garth after Kaldur left Atlantis.
In season two, titled Young Justice: Invasion set five years later, Kaldur is working undercover with Black Manta, for Nightwing to find out who the Light's partner is. In the episode "Depths," Black Manta sends Kaldur and the Manta Men to disrupt a satellite launch at Ferris Aircraft, where he and Nightwing fake Artemis' death to put her undercover as Tigress. In "Darkest", Aqualad, Tigress, and a team of super villains track Impulse and Blue Beetle to Mount Justice, captures them, along with Beast Boy, and destroy Mount Justice with a bomb. It is later revealed that he secretly gave Nightwing a tracking device (which corresponds to a tracker that he injected Lagoon Boy with). In "Before the Dawn", Miss Martian confronted and mind ravaged Aqualad as revenge for his supposed killing of Artemis, but drops into a state of guilt when she learns about his and Artemis' undercover mission. Artemis arrived, shocked by what Miss Martian had done, and escapes with a catatonic Aqualad. Artemis manipulates Black Manta into capturing Miss Martian to repair Kaldur's mind. After Miss Martian succeeds, Aqualad pretends to remain catatonic to keep Black Manta from killing her and arrange for her to escape. Later, during a summit between the Light and the Reach Ambassador and Black Beetle, Artemis' and Aqualad's cover is revealed and Miss Martian, disguised as Deathstroke, fakes their deaths. Aqualad subsequently reveals the Light's enduring betrayal of the Reach via a hologram and he and Artemis and Miss Martian reveal their play. During a substantial conflict between the Light, the Reach, and the gathered forces of the Team which had infiltrated the Light's foot-soldiers, Aqualad defeats Black Manta and it is soon after revealed he had also been the one to defeat Deathstroke. He is made leader of the team again by Nightwing, who soon leaves in the wake of Wally's death during the defeat of the Reach in the season 2 finale.
In the third season, titled Young Justice: Outsiders, Kaldur becomes the new Aquaman after the original retired. As the new Aquaman, Kaldur'ahm becomes leader of the Justice League with Wonder Woman as his co-chair. Later in the season, he takes an aquatic meta-girl he saved to Atlantis. Kaldur is also revealed to be in a relationship with an Atlantean man named Wyynde, who previously appeared in the Young Justice comic book series as a former follower of the Ocean-Master, thus confirming his polysexuality.
A different version of the character debuted in Brightest Day #4 (August 2010), which coincided with the appearance of Aqualad in the 2010 Young Justice animated series. A teenager from Silver City, New Mexico, Jackson Hyde was taught by his parents to fear water since he was young; they do not want him near it because his true parents would be able to locate him, not to mention certain changes happen to Jackson when he gets in the water. Jackson has kept this secret hidden for years, lying to his girlfriend about being afraid of drowning, being unable to swim and being in the dark about the mysterious tattoos he's had since birth. Aquaman is later contacted by the Entity, which tells him to locate Jackson before a second unidentified group, which is speculated to be Siren and her Death Squad.
Jackson Hyde and his on-and-off again girlfriend Maria are first drawn into the events of Brightest Day after witnessing Deadman, Hawk and Dove activating the White Lantern Battery, which had landed in Silver City after the events of Blackest Night. As the Battery begins to speak to the heroes, the tattoos on Jackson's right arm begin to glow. Jackson is seen outside his house during a rainstorm, where he displays his abilities for the first time. As he started to control the water from the rain, his tattoos and eyes began glowing. At this moment he is revealed to possess gills and webbed hands. It's also revealed that Black Manta is actually his real father, and that Mera also has some sort of connection to him. After witnessing Jackson in the rain, his adoptive father takes him to a cottage by the sea. He tells him that Mera had given Jackson to him, asking that he keep him away from his parents, and he was given an Atlantean chest to be opened when the truth is discovered. Before the chest can be opened, Black Manta, along with Siren and her Death Squad, attacks. Jackson (using his ability to create hard water constructs) defends his adoptive father, but cannot stop Black Manta from shooting a trident-shaped dart at him. Jackson's adoptive father would have died if not for Aquaman's intervention, who blocks and crushes the dart.
Aquaman gets Jackson and his foster father to safety where everything is explained to them. The chest is opened, which activates a map. Using the map, the two discover a sealed chest that only Jackson can open. Once the chest is opened, Jackson is shown a recording from Mera, who explains that his father and mother had been kidnapped and tortured by the people of Xebel (an extradimensional Atlantean penal colony) while exploring the Bermuda Triangle, where the gateway to the colony is located. Xebel's king had ordered that the child, the first "outsider" born there in centuries, be experimented on in order to serve as a key that would finally free them from their exile. Fearing for the child's safety, Mera had stolen the infant and brought him to the surface world, where she subsequently gave him to the foster family that ended up raising him. She also reveals his true name; Kaldur’ahm. Once the recording is over, Jackson discovers several items which Mera had left for him, notably a soldier's uniform from Xebel and a pair of "Water Bearers", metallic constructs that help him control his water-manipulation abilities.
Aquaman and Jackson ultimately end up in Miami, Florida, where Black Manta and Siren are leading an army of warriors from Xebel in a full-scale invasion. Jackson successfully uses his waterbearers to create blades, which he uses to fight off the attacking troops, and even briefly holds his own in a duel with Siren. After Black Manta severs Aquaman's right hand, Jackson attacks his father and berates him for siding with the people who killed his own wife, only for Black Manta to throw Jackson to the ground and coldly states that both he and his mother mean nothing to him. Just as Black Manta is about to impale his son with one of his blades, Mera arrives with Aquagirl, who saves Jackson by kicking his father square in the face. After using his bio-electrical abilities to cauterize Aquaman's wound, Jackson and Mera are able to work together to seal Black Manta, Siren, and the rest of the invaders away in the Bermuda Triangle. As the heroes celebrate, Jackson is shown to begin harboring a crush on Aquagirl. Afterwards, Mera tells Aquaman that Jackson wants to continue his training. Aquaman informs her that he has already contacted the Titans.
After Damian Wayne joins the Teen Titans, a vision of Jackson arriving at Titans Tower and confronting Superboy, Wonder Girl, Beast Boy and Kid Flash is shown as part of a collage of future events that will affect the team.
He doesn't appear in The New 52, but later returns in DC Rebirth. In this timeline, the Jackson Hyde version of the character is reintroduced as a gay teenager, and visually looking more like his Young Justice counterpart. It is mentioned that he displays a near superhuman talent for swimming. Aqualad joined the Teen Titans after the team encounters him while exploring the San Francisco Bay for a mission.
You Brought Me the OceanEdit
DC Comics released the original graphic novel You Brought Me the Ocean on June 16, 2020. Written by Alex Sánchez and drawn by Jul Maroh, the story focuses on Jake Hyde's teenage years in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico and learning to cope with his father's drowning while also struggling with his sexuality, future college plans, and burgeoning superpowers. Kirkus Reviews praised You Brought Me the Ocean as "a worthy, diverse addition to the DC Universe". The graphic novel was nominated for the 32nd GLAAD Media Awards (2021) for Outstanding Comic Book.
Powers and abilitiesEdit
Jackson Hyde has been shown to possess the ability to breathe underwater as well as enhanced strength. He can adapt his eyes to see in the darkest of ocean bottoms. He features gill slits on the sides of his neck presumably allowing him to extract oxygen from the water. He also appears to demonstrate hydrokinesis, the ability to increase the local specific density of water and then manipulate its shape, similar to Mera and other citizens of Xebel. He is later given a pair of "Water Bearers", weapons that allow him to focus that power, creating shapes and weapons with the water. In addition, he is able to discharge powerful bolts of electricity from his fingertips in a manner similar to that of an Electric eel. In the Young Justice animated series, Kaldur'ahm is also mentioned as having immunity (or at least resistance) to poisons, which Cheshire once put to the test.
- A version of Aqualad appears as a part of the Ubernet Teen Titans/Justice League in the pages of Red Robin.
- Jackson Hyde appears as Aqualad in the prequel comic to Injustice 2, where he's agreed to represent the oceans and joins Batman's efforts to repair the world after Superman's tyranny. However, he is later revealed to be allied with Ra's al Ghul and assassinates the president after Blue Beetle accidentally destroys a number of endangered species in Ra's' reserve.
In other mediaEdit
- Aqualad makes a guest appearance in the Teen Titans Go! episode "Let's Get Serious", voiced by Khary Payton. In the episode, which is a crossover with Young Justice, he accompanies Superboy and Miss Martian in taking out the H.I.V.E. as the Titans were too silly to do it properly.
- Kaldur'ahm makes a cameo appearance in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox as a member of Aquaman's army in an altered timeline. They battle Deathstroke, but are overpowered. He later reappears in the final battle with the Amazons, but is presumed dead.
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