Last month we joined Robin and Superboy on a new adventure as they began a race against time to save the Justice League from the curse of the doom scroll! Between all that we had time travel shenanigans and the boys being their usual charming selves. Can they keep up the momentum this month? Let’s find out.
This issue is broken up evenly between the boys adventures in the present, and showing us the start of what happened to them when they got zapped into the past by Rora’s arrival. There are pluses and minuses to this approach, which I’ll get into in the meat of the review, but generally I’m still having a ton of fun with this title.
The story opens as the boys are rushing off to save Wonder Woman. The last issue ended with an indication on the doom scroll that she was the next target, so it makes sense for Tomasi to take us directly there next.
I have to say, I just love reading Damian and Jon interact, especially in these moments where they’re rescuing another hero. They’re a delight to see play off each other and balance one another out. One moment in particular I loved was Damian’s no-nonsense explanation about how Batman has contingency plans for the rest of the League, and Jon’s shock over it. Jon comes back to this time and again through their rescue of Wonder Woman, and it’s just so much fun to see how he keeps picking at Damian over it. On the flipside, I loved that Damian has total faith in his friend’s goodness as he tells him he should be fine if he continues to just be himself. It’s these kinds of interactions that I come to Super Sons for. And while we’re only two issues in so far, I think these short one-and-done fights where they rescue a hero work really well to show off the boys as they work together in a way I missed in the last series. Adventures of the Super Sons was fun in a wild world hopping way, but I do love that this has zoomed back in on a story more focused on the boys themselves.
I also like that we get some good character work for Jon too. Damian’s the kind of character that can easily take over the story, but Tomasi does a great job making sure there’s a balance between him and Jon, especially in the first half. Where Damian is the strategist, Jon is the muscle, to take out the Minotaur they’re fighting. During that fight is a wonderful moment where Jon references both his parents and things they’ve taught him, using them to help him win the fight. We’re also reminded of the Kryptonian’s weakness to magic, and with the trajectory this story seems to be taking, it’ll be interesting to see how Jon overcomes that particular hurdle.
The second half of the story jumps us to the far far past and introduces us to those who I assume will be the rest of the key players we’ll have in this series: Felix Faust and Vandal Savage. We also see a much younger Rora and are introduced to her as she’s working for Faust. Most of the latter half of this issue is focused on setting up the conflict with the villains and bringing them together with the heroes. Faust is interested in discovering the secret to immoral life, and has roped Savage into helping him with the promise of showing him the future.
Jon and Damian themselves don’t have much to do in this portion, but I don’t think that’s too much of a problem. Tomasi’s building up the story of how everything started, and I’m starting to find myself switching over from how I felt last issue. Where I was a bit frustrated by the idea of not seeing the story play out in order, I am starting to see how this technique could work out to tell a really interesting tale.
The downside to the way the issue is split between past and present is that it makes it feel disjointed. While the start of the next part is clearly marked, the split between the two parts is still a bit jarring, and I’m not sure there’s much that could be done to mitigate that, especially since even the art style is totally different between the two parts. This is one of those issues where I feel like the story probably worked better when read split in parts as it was published digitally.
I also think that the split makes the story still feel like it’s dragging a bit. Jumping between past and present can make it feel like both stories are moving slowly. Jon and Damian have rescued two heroes in the present, but we’re no closer to having answers. And while we’ve been introduced to the story’s antagonists, again it’s more of an introduction than anything. If we’d had a full issue of either, things might feel like they’re moving a little faster. So, while I’m warming to it a bit, I am still a little bothered by the story playing out in alternating moments, less out of personal preference and more because it has hindered the forward momentum of the story.
I mentioned that the art is different in the second part, and that is because duties are split this month with Max Raynor on the first half, and Jorge Corona on the second. Luis Guerrero does color for the whole book, but gives each part a distinct pallet that fits the story at play.
Raynor’s art is clean and bright and just as delightful as it was in the last issue. His portion has more action than the second half, and he handles the boy’s fight against the minotaur really well. The action is clear and easy to follow, and again plays beautifully with the script to provide great moments of visual humor like Robin’s attempt at stepping in to help Superboy. Both Jon and the minotaur’s reactions here are too funny.
In comparison, Corona’s art is sharper and rougher, which fits the second half of the story really well. Guerrero also gives this portion a slightly darker color pallet in areas, which helps further define the style. The boys have been thrown back into 16th century Europe and Corona illustrates it beautifully. Everything is a bit older, darker, dimmer, and Corona’s style hits all the notes of something historical and full of villains conspiring in a great way.
Plus come on, the way he pulls off this outfit for Vandal Savage? Perfect.
The story wraps up in a way that both gives a fun nod to some of the Super Sons past adventures, and really gets the ball rolling in showing us how Savage and Faust will end up playing into the present portion of the story, leaving me excited to see where everything goes next.
- The boys ribbing each other is your cup of tea
- Time Travel shenanigans anyone? There are plenty, and they are fun
- You want to see how Batman might one day take out Wonder Woman
I can’t say this enough, Challenge of the Super Sons is a delight. When my biggest problems are picking at the awkward transition between present and past, you know it’s a good book. Tomasi is really giving both Jon and Damian a chance to shine here, and doing it in a fun way that keeps them together and on a mission. Plus, we’ve started to get some plot around the villains behind the doom scroll. Like I said at the start, I’m still having a blast reading this book, and I know you all will too if you pick it up.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.