After what seems like an eternity, Super Sons is finally here. There’s been a lot of anticipation building up to this title, and… you know what? I’ll just cut to the chase: it’s great. Super Sons is non-stop fun, a truly remarkable first issue, and a near-perfect example of comics storytelling. I had a grin plastered across my face for pretty much the entire issue, and I can’t wait to see where this book goes.
Since the groundwork for the series was pretty well laid out in Superman a few months back, Tomasi just jumps right into the action with Jon and Damian. Fear not if you’re a new reader, though, as their individual identities and relationship to each other are made pretty clear: Robin is the son of Batman, Superboy is the son of Superman, and while they don’t dislike each other, there’s certainly a sense of rivalry between the two.
In short: they’re both kids. That right there is the best thing Tomasi does in this issue; instead of having the boys face off against some sort of world-threatening enemy or getting in too deep and over their heads, he just lets them behave like normal boys. The tone of the book is innocent and fun in the best possible way, with Jon and Damian’s reluctant partnership taking center stage. There’s dramatic weight and heft, don’t get me wrong, but the story doesn’t become overly dark or cynical.
It helps that Tomasi knows these kids and how to write them well. He and Patrick Gleason have been doing great things with Jon over in Superman, which is probably my favorite DC book right now, and they also made Damian a pretty likeable little turd in Batman & Robin, the Actual Best Batman Book of the New 52. That history with the characters pays dividends as Tomasi writes a script that can appeal to fans old and new alike, and I’d say it pays off. He nails the boys’ personalities, and does a pretty great job summarizing their parents as well.
Jon gets a lot of the focus here, which is great considering he’s the newer character. He’s sweet and likable without being boring, and manages to be the more relatable kid because that’s what he really is: just an average kid. Like his dad, he’s down to earth and human, making friends and trying to stand up to bullies. Also like his dad, he just happens to have superpowers that could solve all of his problems in a flash, but he knows that helping people is much more important than hurting them. While I hope stories don’t ever go the obvious and tired route of having a Super character turn evil, I’m really interested in seeing how Tomasi develops Jon over time. He’s a bit like Spider-Man, having great powers while still being young, though instead of being driven by tragedy he’s influenced by legacy.
Damian has some nice character moments too, proving that while he may be “only human” like his father, his privilege and circumstances make him harder to relate to. Sure, everything Batman has is theoretically attainable if you drive yourself enough, but he’s a billionaire. Even if Bruce really isn’t a jerk about his money, he can buy what he wants. Damian, on the other hand, is a jerk and feels entitled to his father’s legacy. I mean, that’s the entire reason he wanted to become Robin: he thought he deserved it.
Despite being a little pompous snotrocket, though, Damian is still endearing. He is, after all, still a kid, and as much as he would hate to admit it he still just wants to be normal and have friends. That’s a lot of what’s been driving the narrative over in Teen Titans, and the same theme is explored here. Damian may act like he’s only begrudgingly teaming up with Jon, but you can tell that’s not the case. He genuinely wants to be his friend. And Jon, being the sweet kid that he is, wants to be his friend too, though their youthful impulsiveness often gets the better of them.
On the artistic front, it would have been nice to have seen Gleason on this title as well, but Jorge Jimenez is a perfect fit just the same. His style is similar to Gleason’s, with lean figures and big eyes on the kids, yet it’s not the least bit derivative. It may share similarities, but it’s still wholly unique. I love the long, lanky look he gives Jon, making him look kind of awkward in his own skin. That’s a great design idea, as Jon is going through an awkward phase now as he discovers and tries to control his powers.
My favorite thing about Jimenez’s work is the details he puts into each scene. Everything pops off the page, even in the quieter moments around the White’s dinner table, and his use of body language is astounding. Even when you can’t see the look on a character’s face, Jimenez let’s you know exactly what they’re intending to communicate.
Damian’s clasped hands are great, but you know what my favorite thing is about that image? Jon’s sock. His left sock is stretched out just a little too far, hanging off of his foot just a tad. It’s a small detail, but it’s one that truly speaks to the time, care, and passion that this creative team is bringing to the book. The Ninja Turtle-analogues on Jon’s pajamas are a nice way of letting us know he’s a kid, and that loosely hanging sock gives him even more personality.
I do have one complaint, though it’s one I’m expecting to retract once it plays out. The issue opens with a two page prologue that doesn’t seem to have any bearing on the rest of the story whatsoever. It’s what appears to be a sitcom family gathered on set, with one of the children being given everything they want. The rest of the family appears to fear the kid, which is reminiscent of the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life” or, as you’re probably more familiar with, one of the stories in a “Treehouse of Horror” on The Simpsons. Surely this will pay off and make sense sooner or later, but given the strength of the rest of the issue it could have easily been left out. But you know what? It isn’t bad, just out of place. I loved the issue so much regardless of the prologue, so Super Sons gets a 10.
- You like great comics.
- You like fun comics.
- You like Superboy and like/tolerate Damian Wayne.
Overall: A near-perfect debut for our Super Sons, this is everything Comics should be. Tomasi nails the characters, unsurprisingly, and Jimenez infuses the visuals with energy and details that elevate it to true greatness. I loved almost everything about this issue, from Jon’s mawkish innocence to Damian’s entitled snobbery, and even more when the two play off each other with some truly hilarious banter. I was expecting to like this book quite a bit, or even love it as just a fun piece of entertainment, but Super Sons has exceeded my expectations: it’s exciting, engaging, and fun, a charming book that’s unafraid of being earnest in a far too cynical world.