You want to know how fun Super Sons can be when it delivers? This issue feels like it was supposed to be the second part of a longer arc that was ultimately truncated into a two-parter, yet even then the writing is so charming it’s still a satisfying experience.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve grown weary of extended arcs that are designed specifically to fill a trade. There’s no need to take a story that can be told in two or three issues and stretch them into six. It’s exhausting, in all honesty, and I wish the industry as a whole would go back to a different storytelling model. Still, some stories do need to be longer, and “The Parent Trap!” here feels like it was designed to have more installments. Even if it feels short, though, it’s still an immensely enjoyable read.
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Tomasi’s writing. I loved Batman & Robin, his run with Patrick Gleason on Superman has been one for the ages, and even those few Detective Comics issues he did with Bat-Gordon were really strong. While Super Sons has had a few ups and downs, it’s still been a consistently fun ride with Damian and Jon. As such, a lot of my appreciation for issues like this come from the strength of the writing, and the growing friendship between the two boys in particular.
At its core, the entire point of this issue is to explain the vastly different relationships the boys have with their respective mothers. If you’ll remember the end of the previous issue, the boys discovered that Jon’s mother Lois was to be the target of an assassination attempt from Talia, Damian’s mother. That right there should tell you all you need to know about Talia, especially when it’s revealed that she pretty much took the job to try and entice Damian to “his destiny” yet again.
It’s a story trope that’s been well-trod at this point, even as recently as the issue prior to this one. What makes it work and maintain a certain level of freshness is that Damian has Jon to bounce off of. Instead of rejecting his mother’s wishes and going off to sulk, he has someone to keep him grounded. More than that, he has someone who will be his friend, which is as affecting as anything Tomasi has written about the boys.
Attempted assassinations notwithstanding, this issue is pretty lighthearted and genuinely funny. Most of that stems from Jon’s side of the story, where he prevents Lois’ death and then has to go and take on a bunch of ninjas. You know, as one does.
Funnier still is the cat-and-mouse game between Jon and Lois, with Superboy trying to put on an air of stalwart heroism while his mother is loving but almost passive-aggressive in her warnings that he needs to stay safe. They’re small scenes and moments that add up to the enjoyable, lovable whole of the book.
Tomasi gets some good lines in here and there (I’m still laughing at that lady’s matter-of-fact “someone’s beating up that kid!”), but it’s Carlo Barberi’s pencils that really sell the tone. Just on a pure aesthetic level, Barberi’s work here is fantastic. His style is kind of a mix between Jim Lee and Jorge Jimenez, with slightly exaggerated characters popping out against the nicely detailed backgrounds. There’s so much personality injected into the characters, like Jon shaking off the pain of catching a bullet, and it all looks nice and crisp.
The visual storytelling is clear and attractive, with Art Thibert’s inks adding just enough shade to the details to allow the colors of Dono San/Protobunker to pop off the page. The reds, yellows, greens, and blues of the boys’ respective costumes contrast nicely with the brown and grey alleys of Gotham. Rob Leigh’s lettering and sound effects add to the levity as well, with a well-placed “KRSH” or “BOOP” serving the scenes.
There’s not much here that hasn’t been done just as well before or elsewhere, but it’s still strong work. Even in the midst of their adventures, I love watching the friendship between the boys develop each month, which is far and away the backbone of the series. Damian and Jon have both grown so much as characters since their respective introductions, and their “oil and water” partnership makes the both of them more well-rounded individuals. They may not always be going out and saving the world, but they are growing into some pretty complex characters, and I’d honestly take that any day of the week.
- You like seeing the friendship between Jon and Damian grow.
- You’re down for a relatively lighthearted adventure.
Overall: With an attractive visual aesthetic and whip-smart writing, this issue of Super Sons is a flat-out good time. It may not be overly ambitious or have world-shaking consequences, but it’s another example of Robin and Superboy growing as individual characters and as friends and partners. This may not be the biggest book in DC’s stable, but it may very well have the most heart. Simply put, Super Sons is a joy to read.