Super Sons # 1
Written by: Peter J. Tomasi
Illustrated by: Jorge Jimenez
Colored by: Alejandro Sanchez
Lettered by: Rob Leigh
Published by: DC Comics
Reviewed by: Kristian Horn
During the Golden and Silver Age of comics DC’s top two superheroes were as chummy as could be. But in 1986 a particular graphic novel series written and illustrated by Frank Miller destroyed that chummy friendship forever. As far as the Superman/Batman relationship goes…there is before The Dark Knight Returns and after The Dark Knight Returns…and the relationship between two of the most popular superheroes on the planet post DKR became a dysfunctional one indeed. Gone were the days of friendly team-ups and oddball adventures. After Frank Miller penned the fight in which Batman seemingly hands Superman his ass in a bare knuckle, back alley fist fight Batman and Superman would never be as close as they once were before the age of grim and gritty comics set in.
For many fans at the time this made sense. In the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC Comics Batman was a dark and brooding force of justice with little respect for the law or the civil rights of criminals. Superman was a naïve boy scout with respect for the law and the authority figures that crafted them. Of course these two would never get along! It was impossible! From then on Batman would forever be portrayed in one way or another as an anal retentive paranoid madman with no respect for anyone’s opinion except for his own. Superman would sometimes be portrayed as an, “Aw, shucks” Mayberry rube with no understanding of the darker side of life and an optimism that would border at times as being self-delusional. There was no way these two guys could ever be friends!
But despite this then-newfound way of portraying the world’s finest heroes there were two characters who would rise above the one-dimensional characterizations of Superman and Batman that had taken hold. Those two characters were Superboy and Robin…the teenaged counterparts to the Metropolis Marvel and The Dark Knight. For some reason, during the years of Superman and Batman never really getting along their sidekicks always did just that. Despite Bats and Supes always constantly butting heads over whose view of the world made more sense it was the sidekicks who would somehow develop a more trusting and, yes, more mature relationship with each other over the years. While Batman and Superman would attempt to one up each other for years on who was right about whatever issue when they met, Superboy and Robin (no matter the iteration) would always seem to dispense with the issues their elders were having and appear to say. “Hey, man, can we just get on with the crime fighting already?”
Which is why their team-ups were inevitably more pleasant to read. They were fun. You’d never really have to be doing the eyeroll whenever Batman would act morally superior to everyone in the room or when the post-Byrne Man of Steel Superman would inevitably be unable to understand why people do such horrible things to each other. Robin and Superboy’s relationship in the comics was always fun and breezy. They came across as friends and their adventures would be pleasant to read because they weren’t so stuck in their own viewpoints and attempting to convince each other that they were right all the time.
I’m more than glad to say that this tradition of comradery continues in this first issue of Super Sons. Peter J. Tomasi and Jorge Jimenez have crafted a fun tale of adventure that reminded me of what I used to love about teenaged superhero team ups. Superboy and Robin are both portrayed as characters who are different but find a way to work with one another and like each other despite their differences. In this version of the DC Universe both of these characters are the actual sons of Batman and Superman and both have been raised in very different ways. This makes for an interesting dynamic between them but it’s a dynamic that never really gets in the way of them seeming to enjoy each other’s company. This Robin and Superboy are a very interesting combo as one was very literally raised by a league of assassins and the other has only recently discovered he is a super powered being and has been raised as an average all-American boy. The way they play off of each other is interesting but you can tell, at least from this first issue, that despite them being from completely opposite worlds that they like and are intrigued by one another. In other words, they are developing a friendship while working together and the fun of that dynamic really stands out in the story.
The story itself is fairly standard for this type of book. This first issue does a good job of establishing the major characters and the differences in both their home environments and characterizations. Jonathan Kent lives a fairly normal home life with an ever present Clark and Lois as his parents raising him. Damien Wayne lives a completely different lifestyle. He’s being raised in a colder environment by a Bruce Wayne who is taciturn, demands discipline, and is distant with affection. As a result, both have different attitudes toward the world yet both are equally fascinated with each other. Even though Damien is a smug smartass with an air of superiority and Jonathan is a humble and respectful goody two shoes each of the protagonists in the story seem to be genuinely interested in working together. There’s no competition here. There’s no attempt to one up each other. These two seem to enjoy each other’s company as much as they enjoy grooving on their own abilities and the friendship that seems to be growing between them makes the book a fun read indeed.
Artist Jimenez does a terrific job on the art chores. Each page is bristling with energy and power. Jimenez’s style is cartoony, almost manga-like in places, but it’s a style that fits the story. Each panel flexes and moves with a life all of its own and the character rendering is kinetic and exciting. Jimenez’s art is a very big reason that I enjoyed the book as much as I did as it added a youthful vibrancy to the page that was very fitting to the feel of the comic. I also have to say that whoever designed Superboy’s new costume deserves a medal. While I’m not crazy about the ripped jeans, the rest of the outfit just works perfectly. This is the best re-design of a Superman Family costume I’ve ever seen and they should get whoever retrofitted Superboy’s to look at Superman’s outfit. Whoever did this Superboy design can surely do a better job on Superman’s suit than anyone who’s made an attempt since the beginning of the New 52.
In my mind the first issue of Super Sons is a hit. I enjoyed the book immensely as it reminded me of the days of my youth when I couldn’t wait to get to the local stationary store to pick up the latest issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. Super Sons captures that vibe of a young Spidey learning the ropes of super heroism and being wowed by what he can do at the same time. I liked it so much I actually asked my local comic shop to pull it for me on a monthly basis which is a distinction that only two other current comics have. I stopped collecting pamphlet comics a long time ago but if Super Sons continues to be as good as this first issue was then it’ll be worth having in my grubby little paws every month.