Back when it started in 2011, Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s Batman and Robin run was one of the unsung heroes of the New 52. It was a crisp, father-son action book with real heart, gorgeous artwork and, following Damian Wayne’s death, a solid emotional spine.
Sometimes it’s good to stick to what you know, which is probably why Tomasi and Gleason have teamed up for the new Superman comic – a crisp, father-son action book with real heart, gorgeous artwork and, following a battle with a robot on the moon, a solid emotional spine.
The Superman the world has loved for so long is dead. In his place is the pre-Flashpoint Clark Kent, who – along with his wife Lois Lane and young son Jon – has recently been deposited in this universe. Much like a Trump impeachment, the world desperately needs a Superman, so the old-yet-new Clark sets out to protect the world from evil. At the same time, Jon begins manifesting the Kryptonian powers of his father, but has no idea how to control them. When a visit from robot enemy and Superman-impostor Eradicator threatens to tear the Earth apart, Clark must guide his son through his genetic inheritance while finding a way to put Eradicator down for good.
Although I’m fully up front on how much Son of Superman cribs directly from Tomasi and Gleason’s Batman and Robin work, I really like the way things panned out. The creative DNA of the latter is present, but it’s taken in a few new, nuanced directions which ultimately enhance the story. For example, part of the conflict between Bruce Wayne and Damian came from Bruce’s unwillingness, at first, to be a father; fate, and Talia al Ghul’s machinations, had pushed him there, and he had to adapt. Clark, on the other hand, embraces being a father, even if he comes to it with some difficulty at first. I mean, sure, raising a son you never knew you had who was brought up by the League of Assassins is tough, but I think that pales compared to having a child who manifests the ability to fry cats with laser vision.
What I’m getting at is that the father-son conflict here is less a matter of adaptation, than it is about discovery. Clark wants to be a father from the word go, holding his family up as the most precious thing to him, and a life he chose without reservations. Though Jon’s growth into his powers is tricky, Clark ultimately learns how to navigate it all through embracing the concept of fatherhood more than Bruce did at first. Thanks to that, it’s easier for Clark and Jon to find common ground faster than Bruce and Damian did, which results in them being able to team up and kick robot ass together.
Father-son superhero bonding sessions are the best.
Standing apart from the similarities to their B&R story, Tomasi and Gleason have written a story that feels at once relatable and extraordinary. On the one hand, early childhood and learning to be a father is tough, but on the other, they get to go to the moon and beat up a robot who has a bunch of Kryptonian souls inside him. I’ve definitely experienced worse family stories.
Much as I loved Son of Superman, I have to acknowledge that it does little which is revolutionary in its own right. It’s a tightly-plotted, well-written and – thanks to some superlative work by Gleason and cohorts – gorgeously illustrated book. Simultaneously, it feels like a solid first step, and not much more. The series’ appeal is going to live or die on where the creative team take things now that the specific father-son drama has been established. Superman feels ripe with potential, in yet another strong hit for the DC Rebirth initiative.
And if Son of Superman didn’t get you going, maybe this image from the next volume will.
Consider me very onboard for another Saga of the Super-Sons.
PUBLISHER: DC COMICS
BEST DIALOGUE: “The world needs to see again that there’s a Superman looking out for them. You may not be here in body, but I know you are in spirit… the colors will fly.” – Pre-Flashpoint Clark Kent