Super Sons #5 review

Imagine this: you’re the son of Batman, gifted with the opportunity to be his crime-fighting partner Robin.  You’re smart, cunning, and resourceful, and you have access to some of the coolest gadgets money can (or even can’t) buy.  Plus, you know, I’ll repeat: your dad is Batman.

Or imagine that you’re the son of Superman.  You have loving parents and have been blessed with superpowers whose potential is only outmatched by your exuberance and enthusiasm.

Pretty sweet gigs, either way.  You can go anywhere, do practically anything, and either way you go your dad is the coolest superhero around.  Now, what’s the worst thing that could possibly happen to a (pre-)teen with said gifts?  The Joker attacking your class field trip?  Doomsday trying to kill your dad… again?

Nope, the worst thing that could happen to a kid like that?  Getting grounded.

Yes, after saving lives and bringing down a potential supervillain, our Super Sons are under house arrest.

That there is plenty of fun on its own, and Peter Tomasi doesn’t waste any time in playing it up.  Damian is stuck in the Batcave, but even while he’s annoyed at his sentence, he still uses it as an excuse to mouth off to Alfred.

Real talk here: what’s up with Alfred’s line?  Did… did he forget about Julia?  I mean, she drove around a police blimp for Bat-Gordon for the better part of a year, which is kind of hard to forget.  And, well, she’s his daughter.  Maybe he’s being snide, I don’t know.  If not, I realize that the Superman Reborn stuff has rewritten a lot of history, but surely not that much.

Anyway, Damian’s usual mouthy self is always a delight, but it’s not enough to sustain an issue.  That’s where Jon comes in.  Not just grounded and being forced to do chores without the benefit of his powers, Jon is also incredibly upset that his family is moving to Metropolis soon.  It’s pretty standard stuff for fictional teenagers to go through, but Jon’s such a good, likable kid that you really feel for him.  I mean, I’m looking forward to his adventures in Metropolis as much as the next person (which have already started in Action Comics but whatevs), and having them live on a farm brought a new element to Superman stories.  Still, Superman belongs in Metropolis.  Jon just doesn’t see that yet.

Alisson Borges is filling in for Jorge Jimenez, and generally speaking I really like his style.  That panel of broken glass is a wonderful stylistic choice, and there are several interesting design and layout choices he makes.

There are also some questionable continuity errors as well, unfortunately.  When Jon leaves the farm he heads to Gotham (I assume it’s Gotham, what with the gargoyles) and complains about how much cities suck.  He darts off and then… winds up in the Batcave.

Through a… server closet?  I can buy that he moves between locations quickly.  He is developing superspeed, after all.  There’s just a visual disconnect between the preceding panel and when Jon arrives in the Batcave.  It’s weird, and really only connects because of Jon’s dialogue.

That’s minor, though.  It’s a very well-illustrated scene, as is most of the book.  There are some weird faces here and there and a few panels look a little sloppy, but I dug Borges’ style.  Jimenez is the heart and soul of the look, of course, but Borges’ is up to the task.  His splashes and double-page spreads are where he really shines, and he really nails the boys’ confrontation in the ‘Cave.  That’s what we’re all here to see, after all, and it mostly delivers.  Per usual, Damian is a snotty little brat and Jon is having none of it, so they start fighting.  You know, just like their dads.

It’s a fun little confrontation, and mostly played for laughs.  Nowhere is that more evident than in the resolution punchline to their fight: hiding behind the butt of a dinosaur.

True to form, Alfred is the one who talks the boys down.  Even better, he uses their fathers as the basis for why they should be more civil to one another.  After all, he’s already seen one generation of heroes grow and come into their own, so why not pass on that wisdom to the next generation?  Superman and Batman work much better together than they do apart, and their boys are no different.

I know I’ve made my stance pretty clear on Batman and Superman’s relationship before, and I’m making no apologies.  The two have been painted as antagonists and at each other’s throats for so long that it’s lost any impact.  I want to see heroes being heroes, fighting villains instead of each other.  Damian and Jon are different as they’re stubborn little kids, but it’s much more interesting to me when Batman and Superman get along and work together.  Call me crazy, but seeing two guys with different outlooks overcome their differences and actually be best friends is far more compelling than yet another “I don’t approve of you or your tactics, and I only work with you because it’s expected.”  I don’t know.  Maybe I’m off base.

Either way, this is a fitting cap to the first arc.  It is a major case of “more of the same,” so if you don’t really like the Super Sons formula this won’t change your mind.  There isn’t an awful lot of new ground treat here, but what’s there is solid and fun, just like this book has been from the beginning.

Recommended if:

  • You want more of what has made Super Sons work all this time.
  • You like to see Batman and Superman get along.  Mostly.
  • You want to see Batman and Superman argue over which of them would win in a fight.

Overall: From the beginning, Super Sons has been all about the dynamic between Damian and Jon.  That’s on full display here, as Tomasi has the boys come to a head and begrudgingly work out their differences.  The intent is better than the execution, but it’s still a relatively enjoyable issue.  The drama works, the action beats are great, and the chemistry between the leads is a blast.  Super Sons is fun, there’s no two ways about it, and that makes even lesser chapters worth reading.

SCORE: 7/10