In a finite, limited series, there are some issues that stand on their own just as well as they propel the story forward. While being familiar with what has come before makes them a more rewarding experience, a new reader will still find plenty to enjoy if they come in cold. While they’re part of a greater whole, these issues can be appreciated on their own merits just fine.
And then there are issues that really don’t stand on their own, that require you to know exactly what’s gone on in prior issues to make any sense. They can be perfectly fine bits of storytelling, sure, but their primary function is to move the story forward. There may be isolated scenes and individual moments that work well out of context, but taken as a whole the issue is decidedly one small part of a larger whole.
Guess which type of issue Adventures of the Super Sons #4 is.
Yes, like the issues that precede it, there’s not an awful lot to this installment that makes it stand on its own. It’s a pleasant enough diversion, and there’s plenty to like here. That it doesn’t do anything to make itself stand apart from the overarching story is what keeps me from being able to give it a glowing recommendation.
But really, in some ways, I’m… kind of okay with that. Too many books try too hard to be important or “game-changers” or what have you. Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have stories that push the medium forward, nor should creators have their ambitions stifled. By all means, tell great stories, be they straighforward and simple or ambitious and risky. It’s just when every book tries to tell The Most Important Story that the exercise becomes tiring, so having a series that’s content to just have a good time is more than welcome.
So, yeah, in terms of plot, there isn’t much here. Rex still has his sights on intergalactic domination, and the boys are on the run thanks to Space Cabbie and Joker, Jr. They wind up on a spooky planet that I thought was going to be Transilvane but, sadly, it was not to be, and get lost in an even spookier looking house. Pretty simple, straightforward stuff, but it’s the details that make it more worthwhile.
For one– and unsurprisingly– the friendship between Jon and Damian is the heart and soul of the book. They may get on each others’ nerves, and they may not always agree on… anything, really, but there’s no denying that the boys are friends. Whether they’ll always admit to that is debatable, but even they know that they’re a good team and, more than that, they enjoy each others’ company.
Even when Jon is split in two and being overly inspiring to himself.
What I enjoyed the most, though, were the fun visual gags peppered throughout. There’s a sequence where Cabbie and the boys hop through various intergalactic locales that’s as hilarious as it is visually inventive. Because Superboy Blue isn’t quite feeling like himself, Space Cabbie gets distracted, the cab goes a bit haywire, and the crew wind up in some interesting places.
Put Guy Gardner or Lobo in a comic and you have my attention; put Guy Gardner and Lobo in a comic and you have my money.
Make no mistake, the pencils of Carlo Barberi, inks of Matt Santorelli, and colors of Protobunker are all top-notch. There aren’t visual gags and jokes on the level of, say, Teen Titans Go!, but even in the more reticent moments this book has an undeniable energy. The real visual flair, though, comes from Rob Leigh’s lettering. It gives the book its own personality, particularly in his use of well-placed and inspired sound effects. Even just in the page right above you can see how Leigh infuses the book with an almost manic energy with his sound effects: the sickly look of BLAARCHH evokes nausea, I think we can agree, and the repeated PPOPP of the space cab teleporting gives their troubles a comic edge.
While this issue (and the series as a whole) is fairly light in plot, there’s enough easy charm to make it worthwhile. It might not get to the top of your weekly stack, but Adventures of the Super Sons has an undeniable sense of fun that comes out more often than not.
- You like the Super Sons, no matter the adventure.
- You’re a Space Cabbie enthusiast.
Overall: What it lacks in plot and stakes this book makes up for in an easy sense of entertainment. There’s some nice character work from Tomasi, and the boys’ chemistry is as strong as ever, along with some top notch work from the visual team. The book leaves me wanting more, as I really want it to have a tighter focus and a more involving story, but when so many books have lofty ambitions and fail to achieve them, I’m content to have a series that just wants to be fun. By and large, Adventures of the Super Sons is fun.