It’s been a pretty busy year for our Super Sons. Their series kicked off last year with one of the strongest debut issues in recent memory, thanks in no small part to the superstar team of Peter Tomasi and Jorge Jimenez. The title has mellowed out a bit over the course of the year, with subsequent arcs never quite reaching the same heights as the first few issues. Still, the chemistry between Robin and Superboy is undeniable, as is the charm of seeing such great characters interacting with one another and growing as heroes.
Coming out of the admirable misfire of the “Super Sons of Tomorrow” crossover, the boys enter their second year as a team with their thirteenth issue. Has the title recaptured the charm of its early days, or is it stuck in a rut with an unclear direction?
I’m glad to say that it’s more the former than the latter, though with some reservations. While the story itself doesn’t do much to excite me, I loved the character work and dialogue more than enough to give this issue a recommendation.
The charm that made the book lovable to begin with is on full display right from the start, as Jon plays kickball with a few classmates. He gets pegged by the ball, so a friend says he’s out, but he argues that it shouldn’t count since he was hit in the head. The two spat over whether he should be counted out or not, and are all smiles when their teacher calls them in from recess. It’s a believable interaction between the two, going from ultra-competitive to the best of friends on a dime. I love that, even with powers, Jon is the “normal” kid in the equation.
Because really, how many kids arrive at school in a helicopter piloted by their butler?
Damian Wayne, that’s who.
As you’ll recall, both Damian and Jon were enrolled in the West-Reeve School in Metropolis in exchange for their sweet new headquarters. Jon is game, since he’s a normal, well-adjusted kid (who can fly), but Damian is… less than thrilled. True to character, Damian wears his contempt for both the school and his classmates on his sleeve. It’s amazing that this little butthead is so likeable, but Tomasi does a great job of showing affection for him while still highlighting the less than pleasant aspects of his personality.
It’s when his mother shows up that Damian shows the most vulnerability, trying to maintain a tough facade in the face of his “true destiny.” Talia wants Damian to embrace his Al Ghul heritage, which he rejects outright. And yet, even though he has a stone-faced resolve and attempts to brush aside his mother’s proposal, you can tell he’s weary. Damian wants to do the right thing and desires to distance himself from his mother and grandfather, yet his past keeps coming back to try and pull him in. It calls back to a lot of the work Tomasi and Patrick Gleason did on Batman And Robin, particularly in his attempts to adhere to Batman’s no-kill rule. Say what you will about Damian’s attitude, but he’s seen some remarkable growth over the years and continues to be an incredibly complex character.
The plot, as it is, is relatively thin this issue, with very little actually happening. A good chunk of the narrative is devoted to Jon and Damian’s school days, which are delightful in themselves. Once Talia appears and tries to woo Damian back to his “destiny,” there are some hints of a direction, but it’s still relatively low-key. There’s very little action, so Carlo Barberi, Art Thibert, and Gabe Altaeb don’t get the chance to inject much visual flair, but it’s really solid work. I particularly love the facial expressions Barberi uses: there’s great storytelling and “acting” from Jon and Damian, like the look of bored contempt Damian has in that image above. Even if there isn’t a lot of “excitement,” the issue is never boring.
Definitely not boring if you’re paying attention to the title of the arc: “The Parent Trap.” We’ve seen the boys interact with their fathers on multiple occasions, but the Super Sons haven’t had as many dealings with their mothers, at least as a team. If this whole story plays out the way it seems at issue’s end, we’ll see a showdown between Lois Lane and Talia. That’s a meeting I never knew I even wanted, but now I’m almost giddy at the thought of those two strong women facing off. Stern Talia and no-nonsense Lois, with their precious sons in the middle? That’s amazing.
Yesterday it was revealed that Super Sons will end in May with its sixteenth issue. Not due to poor sales, Peter Tomasi has promised, but because the boys are going to be a part of some “bigger plans.” That’s sad, as I’ve loved watching the boys grow up and become friends over the past year or so. Now that we’ve reached the home stretch for the title, there’s a bittersweet note to reading these adventures. I’ll certainly miss it, even after all of its ups and downs, and I’m hoping they’ll eventually become as much a World’s Finest team as their dads.
- You love Super Sons.
- You’ll miss Super Sons.
Overall: Now that the series is ending, this is pretty bittersweet. Once again the boys’ interactions and friendship are more than enough to sell the book, and some great art doesn’t hurt things either. It’s a relatively low-key issue, but strong in the way Super Sons is at its best. Here’s to a memorable meeting between their mothers, an ever-strengthening friendship between the boys, and for the series as a whole to end on a high note.