Make no mistake: despite the lower score, Adventures of the Super Sons is not a bad comic. It feels weird when I don’t connect with this title, as at its heart this book is simply about the joy of comics storytelling. So this latest issue is not bad by any means, as it’s competently crafted in almost every aspect.
No, Adventures of the Super Sons may not be bad, but it is rather dull. It doesn’t really deliver on either aspect of its title, as the Super Sons are barely in it, and there isn’t much of a sense of adventure. Some seeds are planted that will hopefully lead to more exciting installments in the months to come, but two issues in, this title has yet to grab me.
That’s not to say that it’s a story bereft in ideas, and that there isn’t a lot of potential. In fact, the origin of Rex Luthor, Kid Deadshot and the rest of the crew has a pretty interesting twist that I didn’t expect: they’re aliens.
Okay, granted, that in itself isn’t that interesting, but they’re from a planet that has access to video feeds of earth’s heroes and their exploits. They’re inspired by the likes of Superman as he takes on Lex Luthor, to the point that these videos effectively raise the children. Seriously: kids are put into camps to grow up together, and they have access to these view screens to help cultivate their minds. I’m… sure there’s a deeper metaphor there, if you look hard enough.
Not everyone draws inspiration from positive role models, though, as Rex finds himself enamored with Lex Luthor. That’s a man that is worthy of his praise, he believes, and he seeks out fellow like-minded young people to imitate the worst of Earth’s worst.
Like I said, that’s pretty interesting. I’m looking forward to how Tomasi will explore this in future issues, particularly after we’re given brief glimpses into just how unhinged Rex can get.
That’s the thing, though: this is an awful lot of set up without much in the way of payoff. It’s an exposition-heavy issue of a book that holds promise for grand adventure but has yet to deliver.
If there was a way for art to be expository, then Carlo Barberi succeeded in that with his work here. Like the writing, it’s by no means awful. It’s quite good, even, in that it gets the job done. It really doesn’t do much more than that, though, but I don’t think Barberi was given much of a chance to do otherwise. The above page is probably the only genuinely interesting sequence in the book, as the script was lacking in action and even energy. It’s an awful lot of characters sitting around a sterile spaceship, talking about themselves or making threats toward their opponents. Barberi, Thibert, and Protobunker render everything well enough to tell the visual side of the story, and Rob Leigh has a bit of fun with some sound effects. Besides those silent panels of Joker, Jr. dragging Superboy down the hall, the figures getting smaller and smaller in each successive frame, the visuals never really get a chance to come alive.
I genuinely feel kind of bad for not loving this, because it really isn’t bad. If anything, it’s not what I wanted, so I ended up being disappointed. It’s just that when I read Super Sons, I want the Super Sons. Of the two boys, Jon has a bigger presence in this issue, but even then his role is largely reactionary. He interacts with Joker, Jr. quite a bit, but it’s the latter who actually drives the story forward. It does help that, in an ironic twist, JJ is the only member of the team who doesn’t harbor deep-seated sadistic desires, so there’s some interesting stuff going on with him. Once again, though, it’s groundwork that’s been laid for future stories, not this specific issue in question.
The proceedings do pick up once Jon and Damian are reunited, though it is relatively late in the game to make a huge difference. We’re left on a cliffhanger that, combined with the surprisingly dark origin of the antagonists, got my attention enough to get me excited about the next issue. Tomasi’s a fantastic writer and the art team have proven they know how to make his stories come alive, so here’s hoping this was just a “sophomore slump” and the real adventure kicks off soon.
- You’re interested in learning more about Rex Luthor and his cohorts.
- You’re in because of its potential.
Overall: Competently told and illustrated exposition that, sadly, never rises to much more than that. There’s nothing bad here, it’s just rather dull. Some of Tomasi’s ideas are interesting, and the cliffhanger promises some amazing Silver Agey goodness going forward, but this still feels like set up for greater adventures ahead. I’ll always have a soft spot for these guys, and I’ll always hope for the best, I just hope that the adventures promised in the title start soon.