T. Kyle King’s published work ranges from newspaper columns to film reviews and from short stories to law review articles. Most notably, he served as a site manager and staff writer at DawgSports.com, a daily weblog devoted to University of Georgia athletics, from 2006 to 2013, and he is the author of a book about the history of the college football rivalry between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Clemson Tigers published by Clemson University Digital Press in 2013. Kyle is a lifelong comic book fan whose thoughts on comic books previously have appeared at ComicsVerse, Progressive Boink, and the Superman Homepage. Kyle is a Superman guy.
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Superman #10 began one of the most anticipated story arcs of DC Comics’ Rebirth initiative, bringing Clark and Jonathan Kent together with their fellow father/son superhero duo, Bruce and Damian Wayne. T. Kyle King, who covers all things Kryptonian for ComiConverse, brings you his review of In the Name of the Father — Part 1.
Superman #10 Review:
Storytellers Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, the current creative team behind Superman and veterans of Batman and Robin, brought the caped crimefighters from both series together in this prequel to Super Sons, which is due out next year. How well will it go when Superboy meets the Boy Wonder?
(Some spoilers follow!)
Superman #10 Synopsis:
When leaving school for Christmas break, Jon Kent and Kathy Branden literally bump into Maya Ducard, not knowing that she is the new Nobody. Accompanied by Goliath, Maya tracks Jon to Dead Man’s Swamp, where a frightening mishap forces her to blow her cover and prompts Superboy inadvertently to exhibit freeze breath for the first time.
Nobody and Goliath deliver the unconscious Superboy to Robin, who considers the novice superhero a danger. Batman and Superman arrive in search of their respective sons, and a brewing confrontation between the Justice League teammates quickly turns into cooperation. The boys are not similarly disposed to be civil, though, so their fathers elect to impose discipline.
Superman #10 Analysis:
Superman #10 skews toward youth — Superboy appears on all 20 pages, while his more famous father is confined to just six — so the primary challenge when producing the pictures lay in the portrayal of the story’s several youngsters. That task started with Gleason, who penciled the issue in addition to sharing the authorial chores with Tomasi. Starting with the cover, the graphics team of Gleason, inker Mick Gray, and colorist John Kalisz did a great job of depicting an adventure starring children on the cusp of adolescence in an arc-opening installment subtitled World’s Smallest.
The widely divergent personalities of the intense Damian, the impulsive Jon, the cautious Kathy, and the mysterious Maya appear distinctly in the visuals, which often offer insights into how the world looks through a kid’s eyes. The playful and the fearful blend effectively in the imagery, augmented by the subtle shadings expertly added by Gray and Kalisz. When iconic lantern-jawed renditions of the Action Ace and the Dark Knight are added to the mix, the finished product gives the book a look that pops off the page.
Tomasi’s and Gleason’s easy familiarity with the backstories of all the players allows them to interject such humorous allusions as Robin’s deadpan explanation how his dog, Titus, went with Batman to Apokolips to rescue him from Darkseid and bring him back to life. Although several such plot points put the onus on the reader to chase down the connecting threads between characters and storylines of less than universal renown, those details did not present a barrier to the uninitiated’s enjoyment of Superman #10.
DC Comics’ staggered rollout of the publisher’s Rebirth line of titles has aided greatly in the pacing with which its reworked superhero universe has unfurled. The pre-Flashpoint Superman and Lois Lane, together with the son born to them in Convergence, have been provided the breathing room to transition gradually out of the New 52, giving the audience time to get to know the emerging Superboy, much as Grant Morrison did with Damian Wayne.
The steady progression that has brought these characters to this point gives Superman #10 a naturalistic feel; In the Name of the Father — Part 1 unfolds effortlessly, as if the events of World’s Smallest happened organically. It is to Tomasi’s and Gleason’s substantial credit that they succeeded in setting such an authentic tone for a story that easily could have come across as forced and been filled with contrivances designed only to build a bridge to Super Sons.
Instead, the writers delivered a credible and heartwarming superhero adventure that rings true for all involved. Superboy gets himself into trouble when he lets his boldness outpace his bravery, Nobody proves both capable in the crisis and engaging in the aftermath, and Robin reacts to Jonathan’s superheroic missteps with militaristic precision and overzealous earnestness. The paternalistic instincts of Batman and Superman, on display in the issue’s second half, cast the classic heroes in a novel light, with each of these interactions giving rise to sparkling dialogue that illuminates the members of the cast.
Finally, Superman #10 deserves props for its amazing animals. The surveillance equipment with which Superboy surreptitiously is observed is secreted away inside simulacra of wildlife. With Alfred’s encouragement, Damian later shows Jonathan his pets, and their ensuing exchange produces perhaps the finest all-around page of World’s Smallest, on which the writing, layout, artwork, and pigments are outstanding. This series has been hard on the fauna, so Tomasi and Gleason deserve kudos for incorporating, but not injuring, various versions of a cat, a cow, a dog, an owl, a snake, a psychedelic moose, and whatever exactly Goliath is.
Parenthood has brought a fresh dimension to Batman and Superman alike, and the initial installment of In the Name of the Father successfully maintains a delicate balance in the dynamics of how the heroes and their progeny relate to one another. (Although it is regrettable that space constraints and story equilibrium kept Lois on the sidelines, at least she is getting her due where she made her debut.) Superman #10 is a solid start to a new and intriguing chapter of DC Comics’ successful Rebirth.
Were you a big fan of World’s Smallest?
ComiConverse with us in the comments and tell us what you thought of Superman #10!
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Source: DC Comics
The look and tone of the Super Sons’ first meeting gave the issue a feeling of authenticity and was true to the characters.