Tomasi and Gleason did not create Damian Wayne, but they perfected him in Batman and Robin. And they did not create Jon Kent, but they are already setting a high standard for him in Superman. So what happens when the most dynamic duo in the comics industry brings together the sons of the World’s Finest heroes? Spoilers follow.
The best book I’ve read in years (or, I really like it)
After an attempt at surveillance ends in near-disastrous fashion, Robin sedates and secures the young Superboy and begins to interrogate him. The brash son of Batman’s attempts at intimidation are soon interrupted by the arrival of not one, but two dissatisfied fathers.
And then things get absolutely amazing.
If you love Damian Wayne, the turdish ball of hubris in a cape that Batman calls his son, then you will absolutely love this book. If you hate Damian Wayne, the irredeemably nasty little jerk who considers himself superior to his superiors, then there’s a very good chance that you will absolutely love at least one panel in this book, and that this one panel will be enough to make you absolutely love the entire thing.
Let me be a little clearer: Superman #10 is the most delightful book that DC has published in the few years that I’ve been reading comics. I’m not being lazy with my adjectives, either. This issue delights in several distinct ways, all throughout its twenty pages. Sometimes the pleasures are the shallow follies of childhood, like a bully getting put in his place by a teacher, or a richer, more powerful bully getting put in his place by a superfist. At other times, these delights are wide-eyed wonder: the larger-than-life Goliath filling half the title page, or the warm awe in Maya’s eyes as she gazes up at the Man of Steel thanking her for something. And at its best—at its most delightful—Superman #10 makes the conflict between Robin and Superboy just real enough to matter. Disarmed by the absurd humor that comes before, we are prepared neither for Damian’s unfiltered cruelty nor Jon’s violent response. But neither are we prepared for their uniting in fear when confronted with the displeasure of their fathers. Really, the last half of this book is a string of relentless joys, as Tomasi and Gleason move deftly from one beat to the next, hitting us with another before we’ve finished processing the last.
Losing ourselves to find ourselves (or, I like the pictures)
All of this awesomeness is brought to paper by the same super-team that’s been churning out pages since Batman and Robin: Gleason, inker Mick Gray, and colorist John Kalisz. Gleason’s figures are delightfully cartoony, but they transition perfectly into moments of greater gravity. Gray’s inks are super-clean, and he puts a bold line over Gleason’s, so the characters really pop. Kalisz’s color work is bright and bold, and overall the perfect compliment to the line art: gentle on blends and lighting effects, more interested in producing an accurate mood than a realistic picture.
My drippy heading is definitely drippy, but I really mean it, too. There are some artists who aim for something very realistic and hit it. Someone like Jason Fabok comes to mind. But the vast majority of folks making the attempt don’t get close enough for it to be convincing. Gleason’s style is deliberately more abstract and exaggerated, and yet I find that it draws me in much more deeply than even the best realists. A realist might give you a stunning depiction of a young girl’s eyes, but Gleason’s artistic liberties point us beyond to the source of those eyes’ light:
Maybe I’m getting too philosophical for some of you, and if I am, I’m sorry. Comic books are definitely good for an escape, and some of the best can—and should—be enjoyed without extensive analysis. But these stories and these characters can also be used to show us a truer reflection, or a higher aspiration, than we can see or hold in our everyday lives. They are the caricature of our greatest hopes and our darkest fears, held captive on the page so we can dream and dread in safety.
Promises kept (or, it does what it says on the tin)
Superman #10’s cover promises a historic meeting between Damian Wayne and Jon Kent. It promises hilarity, awkwardness, and attitude. It delivers on those promises in delightful (and sometimes unexpected) ways, and it ends at just the right spot, leaving me hungry for more. Tomasi and Gleason continue to make Superman the jewel of the Rebirth line, and they aren’t showing any signs of slowing down.
- You love Damian Wayne.
- You hate Damian Wayne.
Giving me everything I wanted from this collision of worlds, and a few things I didn’t even know I wanted until I had them, Superman #10 pushes the series to a new high. As far as I’m concerned, this title is the standard for superhero comics, and this issue proves it with enormous spectacle, bold characters, and one heck of a good time. Whether you love or hate the brash son of Batman, his intrusion into the world of Superman and his son is one for the ages, and well worth your time, again and again.