The Super Sons/Dynomutt and Blue Falcon Special here is in kind of a weird place.  When it was announced a few months back that the Super Sons title had been canceled, yet they would be featured in this one-shot, it felt like the special would be a nice treat after such upsetting news.  To that end, sure, it serves its purpose: this is a light, enjoyable read and worth it alone for the name Super Sons.  And given the boys’ prior successes with animal-themed stories, teaming with a cybernetic dog is a no-brainer.

With the announcement that there will be a new Super Sons title this fall, though, this is more a curiosity than anything else.  Still, even curiosities can be entertaining, and this one-shot certainly fits the bill.

Since we’re already fairly familiar with Jon and Damian, Tomasi devotes the first few pages to the origin of Blue Falcon and Dynomutt.  Young Radley Crowne was a boy genius, devoted to discovering scientific breakthroughs that will unlock the mysteries of the universe.  Particularly interested in robotics, Radley spent more time in his lab than he did anywhere else.

Until he met Mutt.

D’awwwwwww.

Radley and Mutt become best friends, of course, and are constant companions through the remainder of Radley’s teenage years and into adulthood.  When Radley’s parents are murdered, Mutt is by his side as he changes his focus from robotics to the reanimation of deceased tissue.

Given the shorter life expectancy of dogs, I think you know where this is going.

The prelude is a good primer on Radley and Mutt, particularly helpful for those who aren’t remarkably familiar with the pair.  I remember seeing their cartoons on Cartoon Network way back in the day, when they would be shown alongside shows like The Herculoids and Jonny Quest, and I liked them just fine.  Of all the crossover properties that DC has put out over the past two years, my previous appreciation for Blue Falcon and Dynomutt fell below, say, The Flintstones, but was above the likes of the Banana Splits.  So while I was familiar with them, I’ve never been “into” them, as it were.

I also appreciate that while their origin is dramatic, even tragic, it never becomes overly dark just for the sake of being taken seriously.  There’s an inherent sense of silliness with the concept, and the fact that Tomasi plays it completely straight makes it work all the better.  There aren’t any winks or nudges, nor is there gratuitous violence in an attempt for “gritty legitimacy.”  The tone is evenhanded and works out for the most part.

I say for the most part because of a recurring theme about funerals.  The first time we see Jon, he’s with his parents at a funeral for Archie, a former Planet reporter who was a mentor to both Lois and Clark.  Jon is visibly uncomfortable, both by the open casket viewing and with his uncertain feelings towards death.  This comes up again at the end of the issue, and while it provides for a nice enough thematic bookend, it didn’t quite click and gel with me.  It felt maybe a little too pat, a little too easy, but it’s not enough to torpedo the book by any means.

The opening scenes are fine, if a little slow, and it’s no surprise that the book really takes off when Jon and Damian meet up.  Their banter is as great as ever (Damian’s nonchalant “murder?” when Jon is talking about Archie is particularly priceless), and it cannot be overstated how great their chemistry is.  Even with a lesser story, it’s worth reading Super Sons for their banter alone.

Which isn’t to say that this is a “lesser” story, per se.  The energy is high when the boys get together to go on an adventure, and even more so when they encounter Dynomutt.

Who has seen better days, let’s be real.

The actual story is pretty standard: Blue Falcon has been brainwashed by his arch-nemesis the Red Vulture, and Dynomutt was an unfortunate near-casualty.  It’s actually pretty heartbreaking how downtrodden Dynomutt is after Falcon’s heel turn, and sappy as it is, the way Falcon is redeemed is pretty moving.

It’s a pretty basic story, as I said, and enjoyable throughout.  That it’s a tad predictable isn’t really a slight, and it’s not as if they’re seeking to reinvent the wheel here anyway.  There was a surprising splash of inspiration, though, when we find out how Damian knows Falcon and ‘Mutt.

Tomasi, that mad genius, makes the duo part of Batman, Inc.

That is incredible, and I honestly wish the whole book was about this.  I mean, can you imagine a cybernetic dog running the streets of Paris with Nightrunner, or Blue Falcon teaming up with Man-Of-Bats and El Gaucho to fight Leviathan?  That would have been amazing.

While the flashback is short, it gives enough believable context to make the history between Damian and Falcon and Dynomutt feel real.

Then again, I just love Batman, Inc. and everything associated with it, so take that as you will.

Fernando Pasarin’s visual storytelling suits this material well, especially with his layout choices.  He uses every inch of the page, yet nothing ever feels cluttered or unclear.  While some of his character work can seem a little off at times (more than once a character looks like they’re cross-eyed), he’s still a dynamic storyteller who knows how to convey movement on the page.

I particularly appreciate how he skirts the line of horror imagery from time to time.  While there’s nothing here that’s particularly scary or unnecessarily macabre or grotesque, Pasarin, Oclair Albert and Gabe Eltaeb do a nice job making the Red Vulture pretty unsettling.

I just love that design.  The crooked right leg, the tattered costume, and the broken mask that hints at a horrific disfigurement underneath tell you all you need to know about this guy.  Even forgetting the fact that he tried to kill a lovable dog, Vulture is an imposing presence based on his design alone.

Rob Leigh makes good use of the dialogue balloons and letters as well, giving Dynomutt his own distinct “speech” and playing with the opacity on some of the sound effects.  A fast flurry of punches will get a “WHAMM WHAMM” that’s displayed with transparent yellows and reds, an electrical shock lets off a “ZZRAKKK” with a transparent purple and solid white, and a hard throw makes a “FWAMM” effect that’s solid orange with a jagged black border.  It’s really creative lettering work, and adds to the charm of the issue.

It’s solid work across the board from everyone involved, and while it doesn’t quite reach the highs achieved by the original series proper, it’s still a pretty great time.

BONUS: A pretty delightful variant cover from Doug Mahnke and Wil Quintana.

Spoiler

Recommended if:

  • You love the Super Sons.
  • You like Blue Falcon and Dynomutt.
  • You’ve missed Batman, Inc.

Overall: Had this been the last we saw of the Super Sons, it would have been a more than acceptable treat.  Since we’ll be seeing the boys again so soon, this crossover comes across as a curiosity more than anything.  It’s still a grand entertainment, though, with an engaging plot, surprise plot developments, and great dialogue against some stunning visual storytelling.  Each of the DC/Hanna-Barbera specials this week are pretty solid, and Super Sons/Dynomutt and Blue Falcon Special is no exception.

SCORE: 7/10