Here we are at the final issue of Challenge of the Super Sons! Jon and Damian have traveled through time, rescued the Justice League, befriended a magicians apprentice, and have so far foiled Felix Faust and Vandal Savage’s plans. Now all that’s left is for them to figure out how to save themselves from the curse of the Doom Scroll!
I haven’t been shy about discussing just how much I like Super Sons as a series. I’ve enjoyed it from it’s very first issue, through its ups and downs, and all the way to Challenge of the Super Sons. It’s consistently been a bright point in my reading by highlighting Jon and Damian’s relationship, and being something that is at the very least fun to read. And so I can’t help but be disappointed by just how this whole thing has wrapped up.
Going into this issue I thought there was little that could happen to make me dislike it. All that we had left was the epic showdown between the Super Sons, Vandal Savage, and Felix Faust as they figured out how to subvert this last part of the spell. It should have been a ton of fun, with a dash of danger. And–yeah they do fight and there is danger but it’s lacking the joy the rest of this series held. Worse than that, the story is littered with moments that are confusing and messy.
The Super Sons face off against Vandal Savage and Felix Faust twice in this issue: the first is against the past versions of them brought to the present due to the boys knowing they’re the last targets of the scroll. The second fight happens between them and the present day versions of Savage and Faust. And honestly I don’t know why we needed two separate confrontations with the same characters.
The first confrontation is directly related to the doom scroll and the curse sent out by Faust from the past. His final trick was making them aware they were the target to seal their fate. Or at least that’s what the story tells us. In reality it rips a hole in time and reality to allow Savage and Faust from the past to arrive at the present. It also somehow summons Rora to the portal–but not young Rora, instead it’s her present day self. Setting aside the inexplicable appearance of their ally I have to question why we suddenly have a space and time portal opening up when previously been told that if someone finds out they’re targeted by the scroll they’ll die. The story goes so far as to have Damian and Jon argue the very point of their imminent death for longer than is really necessary. So why go this complicated route of two confrontations? Why not just have the present versions of Savage and Faust show up right away? Called there by the curse or something? Every other effect of the curse was seemingly caused by magic why not this one? The only answer I have is to get Rora into the fray and I’m not even really clear on how she showed up.
The final fight is equally messy. Almost as soon as the boys have solved the scroll problem and gotten rid of the bad guys of the past Savage and Faust show right back up to fight them again. This fight is pretty chaotic. You have the boys and Rora fighting Savage and Faust and so much happens that ultimately amounts to nothing. Jon gets knocked out only to get right back up again. Rora attempts to help but she’s injured and apparently in need of a hospital? And by the end the boys give up because Rora’s in danger. Oh, and the Justice League arrives to quite literally act as the deus ex machina of the story via time skip. It feels rushed, and doesn’t really highlight Jon, Damian, their teamwork, or even Rora. Instead it repeats old story beats by having them give up the moment she’s in danger –like they did in a previous issue– and doesn’t let them actually figure out how to win their own way instead relying on having them rescued by someone else again.
Beyond the plot issue, I have one other major problem with this book and it’s just how often Damian and Jon fight between themselves in this book. I opened this review talking about how I enjoy that Super Sons takes the time to really show us what’s great about Jon and Damian’s relationship. They argue sure, they’re kids both with strong belief systems and hard heads. But when it comes down to it they’re also best friends who value each other, and we see little of that here. Don’t get me wrong, we do get a few moments of that camaraderie, when the boys think they’re done for and then later on in the resolution to the whole adventure. But in the places it could really shine? It’s absent.
Tomasi has made a point of highlighting the differences between Jon and Damian in this series. He’s done it in multiple issues, showing how they are opposite, the way they can clash, and just how their different upbringings have shaped their thinking. I’ve enjoyed these highlights, and here we should have had some resolution to that. We don’t get anything with Jon and Damian using those differences as strengths, or playing up how they are different in a way that helps them win. Instead we’re treated to multiple scenes of them squabbling where they continue the same arguments we’ve seen across the series and show no growth at all from it. It’s very frustrating when you consider the fact that in previous Super Sons series their growing as allies was a major part of the narrative, and this feels almost like they’re back to square one.
I’ve complained a lot this review, but the issue was not totally frustrating. There are some genuinely nice moments between Jon and Damian, one where Jon’s sensitive to Damian’s past death, and another where they’re interaction is quite funny as they try to sort out just how they haven’t died yet with Jon yelling that they’re already ghosts.
I also enjoyed the art through the issue. Despite my problems with the battle between Savage, Faust, and the boys Raynor created some really wonderful shots of the boys in action. The final fight is full of movement and action and feels nice.
The character expressions are also still wonderful. Jon and Damian are delightfully expressive throughout, both in facial expressions and body language. There’s a particular panel of Jon freaking out over the possibility of dying that’s just really nice. He’s wonderfully dramatic, throwing down his arms, and in a closeup of his face.
Before I wrap this review up I also wanted to give some serious praise to Simone di Meo, the cover artist for the physical issues. All seven covers have been stunning and I’ve made it a point to pick up Simone’s covers specifically every time I go in to pick up my copies from my LCS. The colors are bight and glowing, the art dynamic and fun, and really manage to highlight the books content in a way I don’t often see. And just in general, they’re stunning.
- You’re don’t mind a little confusion in the final wrap up
- The art and cover are worth the price of admission
- As a whole the series is quite fun and it’d be a shame to quite right before the end
It’s a shame this series didn’t end on the same exciting and fun note it opened on. This final issue struggled to wrap it’s story up in a way that cleanly tied up the loose ends awaiting readers. Instead opting to do a little too much with the story instead of streamlining an exciting fight and leaving me a little disappointed overall.
Since this is the final issue, I also want to comment on the series as a whole. It wasn’t perfect, but it was fun. It was wonderful to see Jon and Damian interacting again, watch them banter, and figure out how to solve the problems facing them, from issues of magic to being thrown out of their depth in the past. I also loved the art throughout. All three main artists: Max Raynor, Jorge Corona, and Evan Stanley have distinct styles that all fit the series well and made it a delight to pick up every month. And while I’ve had my fair share of problems with this series –such as with pacing and tension– and despite the lackluster ending, I still enjoyed it as a whole. Fans of Super Sons have a lot to enjoy about this series, and if you are willing to let areas it drops the ball slide it’s a delightful adventure fit for the whole family to enjoy.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.