A funny thing happens anytime I read Super Sons. I go into it expecting some great action and writing, which I get in spades, of course. What seems to slip my mind, though, is just how well-rounded a character Jon is becoming. He’s been a part of the DCU for about two years now, and in that time he’s gone from “cute little kid” to “Superboy.” Not a bad progression by any means.
Sure, the kid has a bit further to go before he becomes a fully-realized character, not “just” “Superman’s son.” Even still, under the pen of Peter Tomasi both here and in Superman and, to a lesser extent, Dan Jurgens’ in Action Comics (mostly because he isn’t in that book as much), Jon is beginning to shine just as bright a light as his dad. And really, it’s scenes of his domestic life that end up being my favorite, even when his combative chemistry with Damian provides some good laughs and their adventures contain some pretty exciting action.
So yeah, I really dig the “boring normal stuff” in Jon’s life.
The idea of a team-up book between Robin and Superboy isn’t new, but it could have easily been phoned in. It’s a concept that writes itself: have the most famous sidekick in history join forces with a miniaturized version of the most powerful man in the world and send them on some adventures. That same concept has been done before to varying degrees of success, but Tomasi isn’t content to just let this be a second-string team-up book. No, he’s invested in these boys. He knows what makes them work individually and together, what they need to grow, and how to get them there together. Damian has already had a good decade’s worth of development to him so this is more Jon’s show, but even still the boys grow into their roles and learn from each other… whether they like it or not.
With their first arc behind them, the boys have worked up a plan with their parents (or at least Jon’s) where they can fight crime and protect the city… at least until bed time. The idea that Jon, a kid who could possibly become more powerful than even Superman, has a curfew is sweet and charming enough, and it’s his mawkish naivete that sells it without becoming saccharine. That’s in no small part thanks to the ever brilliant work of Jorge Jimenez, who imbues each character with personality. Look at that first image up there, where Lois gives Jon a kiss and he blushes slightly. You know everything you need to know about their personalities and relationship with one another, and that gives this book a strong heart. I particularly love that glowing, “proud mom” look Lois has on her face as Jon and Clark give each other a fist bump.
It’s that strong emotional core that makes the rest of the book work, which itself isn’t exactly lacking in quality and excitement. The boys’ night on the town is a great little sequence, following the two as they stop some mundane crimes around Metropolis. Some almost… too mundane, as Damian tries to scare the wits out of a jaywalker. It’s a fun little montage that shows the boys working together despite their methods being very different, something that Damian is quick to bring up whenever he feels like it. Despite that, though, the boys are having fun together, and it’s almost impossible to not have fun with them.
Good times are not to last, though. The real conflict of the issue comes when the Titans show up. Damian called the team in to help track down the source of some strange energy readings, and once they arrive he has no further use for Jon. It’s a scene that’s simultaneously funny and kind of heartbreaking: Starfire asks if Jon is Damian’s “big brother,” which of course sets the little punk off, yet his outright dismissal of Superboy’s involvement is pretty rough on the kid.
That last image there. Man, that poor kid.
Once the Titans leave, Jon heads home and spends the rest of the night watching TV, all while the team traces the source of the strange energy readings and solves that mystery. Nothing else happens at all, and Damian made the right choice in being a little butthead.
End of issue. Super short arc.
Yeah, you know the Titans get into some trouble.
That’s not to say that having Jon present would have necessarily helped either way. The group encounters some incredibly deep cut villains: Atom Master and Chun Yull, the Faceless Hunter. Superboy is still pretty green and undisciplined so even he may have fallen to the pair, but Damian being a little jerk and not letting him tag along “because he’s ten” was still a weak excuse. I mean, Starfire is on the team. Even if she’s the “den mother” she is probably not a teen either. Beast Boy is entirely debatable, too. So, yeah, even if Damian did Jon a favor by sending him home, he’s still a little butt.
But whatever. This whole confrontation was masterminded by the Time Commander and… just… just look at this guy.
I love this guy’s costume. It’s so old school and Silver Agey with the sweet hooded cape and that big clock emblem. Amazing. His powers aren’t exactly well-defined, but he leaves Damian in a state that… well, I’m not sure if it’s meant to be shocking or funny, so I’m leaning toward that latter.
Given that this issue starts a new arc, there’s quite a bit of setup for future payoff rather than events that can largely stand on their own. The early half of the book is really strong, focusing first on Jon’s relationship with his parents and his partnership with Damian. Not to say that the second half is bad by any means, as it alternates between sweet and stimulating rather effectively. It does lack a certain something that I can’t quite put my finger on, keeping me from ranking it any higher than I have. Regardless, it’s another strong issue in the saga that is Super Sons and, like always, I’m excited to see what’s next.
- You like the antagonistic chemistry between Damian and Jon.
- You like to see quieter domestic parts of heroes’ lives.
- Super Sons continues to be great, guys, so just read it.
Overall: This is a promising start to a new arc, and one of the things that makes it succeed is balance. Tomasi doesn’t just throw the boys into the thick of the action; instead, he lets them be boys (Jon especially) and is willing to slow down long enough to let them grow. Throw in some nice action beats and some truly obscure villains and the book is as exciting as it is moving. Because of that, Super Sons continues to be one of the most satisfying books on the stands right now.