Despite their best efforts, the Teen Titans are in a state of disarray. After suffering a loss at the hands of the appropriately-named Forgotten Villains, the team has retreated to regroup and lick their wounds. Beaten down and humiliated, there’s a far more oppressive foe the teens (and Jon) have to face, a villain who strikes almost unpredictably. That foe?
Yes, poor Damian is still super old after his run-in with Time Commander, and he has the unreliable bladder to prove it.
If that doesn’t set up the tone then I don’t know what will. Not to say this is a crude outing lacking in heart or anything like that, just that this issue of Super Sons is particularly light-hearted even in the face of conflict.
I know I’ve said it before, but despite Robin and Superboy sharing top billing, this is all Jon’s book. While Damian is certainly a big part of it and has some great moments of his own, Super Sons is all about Jon Kent becoming Superboy. He takes the training he’s gotten from Robin and the moral guidance he’s gotten from his parents and tries to be the hero he can be. It’s fun to watch, and the kid is just so likable it’s hard not to get swept up in his charm.
Having the Titans show up was great move, as they help to bolster Jon’s confidence in the face of Damian’s criticism. They welcome and encourage him to… varying degrees, but ultimately of overall support.
The issue lags the most when it doesn’t focus on the group, particularly as we learn the origins of the Forgotten Villains. This thread gets interesting after a while, but it starts out kind of slow and strange. See, the main villain behind the whole ordeal is Kraklow, a weird sorcerer who can animate clay figures using magic. Like Time Commander, Atom Master, and Chun-Yull, I totally had to look him up to see if he was actually a real character. Sure enough, he is, so I give Tomasi props for using such an obscurity. His gimmick actually has horrific undertones, given that the figures he animates don’t have wills of their own and ultimately just crumble to dust. Once these details come to light it gets pretty compelling, but it takes a while to get there. It really isn’t explored that much either, which is a shame because it could have made for some really chilling drama.
Even still, it all works. And by works I mean “devolves into a fight.” On my first read-through, the closing fight didn’t do a whole lot for me. I barely remembered any details about it, and had to flip back through to refresh myself. Once I did, though, it came together a lot better than on the first pass. There are actually some pretty clever uses of Time Commander’s powers that the Titans have to overcome, and that horror aspect comes into play at the resolution. It would be easy to write it off as the team just fighting disposable cannon-fodder, but I liked the confidence and teamwork they displayed. Even Jon, the greenest member of the group (Garfield notwithstanding HAHAHAHAHAHAHA), fights smart when he’s part of a larger whole. It’s good character work in the midst of what could have just been another noisy battle.
That’s to say nothing of Jorge Jimenez. Golly I love this guy’s style. It’s so energetic and dynamic, whether he’s illustrating sight gags or fight scenes. That sequence early in the book where Damian has to keep using the bathroom flows just as well as a two-page spread during a fight scene, and Jimenez knows how to make even those quieter moments grab your attention.
He also drew Damian in the best Batman pose I’ve seen in quite some time.
That image is killer. The cape, the shadows, the cowering Time Commander. So good.
There is no end to the charm and vibrance Jimenez brings to the table. His work is cute without being twee, and he can truly illustrate action scenes with the best of them. Each month that goes by I love his work more and more, and this is no exception. Just look at the personality he brings to both Damian and Jon.
Their expressions tell you everything you need to know about each of them: Jon is literally wide-eyed and optimistic, while Damian is more cynical and world-weary. Even for a thirteen-year-old. Especially for a thirteen-year-old.
This issue had its ups and downs. It was up more than it was down, but even then it never really soared (metaphors). One of the best things I can say about it is also one of its drawbacks: it feels like a stop in a longer journey. See, this arc will continue next month, and while I’m glad it’s going to be more than just “Jon joins the Titans except not really,” it does make me curious where it’s going to go. The way things end up, this is a nice little two-part arc; it’s simple, compact, and tells a complete story. I’ve no doubt Tomasi can pull something out to make it worth more installments, and I should judge the issue on its own merits. To that end, it’s perfectly acceptable.
I just wish it was a little bit more. Even so, I still love Super Sons.
- You love this title.
- You like seeing Jon grow as a character.
- You like to laugh at Damian.
- You like the use of really obscure villains. Like, really obscure.
Overall: Super Sons has settled into a groove over the past few months. It’s a strong title, though it has yet to attain the excellence that it had in its opening issues. Still, it’s a charming, highly entertaining book in its own right. The characters are strong, the artwork is fantastic, and the overall energy is tangible. At its core this is about Superboy’s growth, and I’m glad to be along for the ride.