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 #2 debuted on Wednesday, continuing the story of the pre-Flashpoint Clark Kent and Lois Lane as they, and their son Jonathan, settle into their new lifestyle. Showcasing the talents of collaborators Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, Son of Superman — Part Two features the Metropolis Marvel’s first adventure with the new Superboy. ComiConverse’s Man of Steel writer, T. Kyle King, brings you his review.
Hiding out in Hamilton County using the assumed surname “Smith”, Lois and Clark are adapting to the seasoned Superman’s resumption of center stage in Metropolis and the emergence of Jon’s budding superpowers. What hidden threats are lying in wait for the heroic family, though?
Superman takes Jonathan with him on a mission to rescue a Coast Guard icebreaker. No sooner has the Man of Tomorrow repaired the submarine’s broken propeller than the ship is attacked by a giant squid being controlled by a technological implant. Jon, following his father’s guidance, uses his heat vision to disable the mechanism, free the sea creature from its influence, and save the sailors from harm. Superboy confesses to Superman that he accidentally caused the death of the family pet.
After the duo returns home, Lois and Clark discuss how to help Jon adjust to his newfound abilities. Meanwhile, their son is sitting in a tree, alone with his thoughts, when he is joined by Kathy Branden. The presence of the neighbor girl makes Jon nervous, and he tumbles to the ground, sustaining a concussion. Clark whisks him away to the Fortress of Solitude, where an unexpected visitor awaits.
Starting with the sun-splashed cover showing Superman soaring through the clouds, the graphic art team of Gleason, inker Mick Gray, and colorist John Kalisz does a superb job on this issue. Bright hues and deep shadows highlight the bold images and dynamic layouts of Superman #2. Gleason effectively employs perspective from the opening pages of the tale, providing a fisheye look at Superman and Superboy flying onto the scene and gazing up from the ocean depths as the hero saves the day.
Clark’s and Jonathan’s facial expressions convey the characters’ emotions with great depth and detail through the subtle sets of their eyes and their mouths. Although, later in the issue, Lois’s features sometimes appear distorted, a remarkable range of responses is portrayed with tremendous nuance in the looks that pass between father and son, from fright to affection to surprise to determination to joy to sorrow. Superman #2, while stylistically reminiscent of the Fleischer cartoons of the 1940s, has a look uniquely its own, and, overall, the artwork is fantastic.
Tomasi’s script is worthy of his colleagues’ imagery. At its heart, Son of Superman — Part Two is a simple story: Clark and Jon go on their first mission together, and the process of persevering in the face of an unexpected threat further bonds father and son. This issue could have settled for being a straightforward coming-of-age adventure tale and been perfectly adequate, but there are layers on display throughout Superman #2.
Because his powers are still developing, Jonathan lacks his father’s invulnerability, so he skins a knee in the tussle with the sea monster. This foreshadows the lad’s injury later in the issue, but it also causes him to leave a few drops of blood on the ice, which Tomasi uses deftly to set the stage for a cliffhanger ending featuring Rebirth’s latest callback to the Action Ace’s adventures in the 1990s.
Though Lois’s presence in the issue is limited, her contributions are significant. A single panel — for which no explanation is offered and of which no subsequent mention is made — shows the pre-Flashpoint Lois Smith opening a package sent to her by this Earth’s New 52 Lois Lane. The Smiths are sorting through the daily mail in the midst of a conversation in which the first lady of superhero comics is overflowing with insightful observations and clever turns of phrase.
Lois hopefully notes that their son has “the best of both worlds” and gently chides her husband about his “mild-mannered reporter” front. The high point of their exchange, however, comes when Clark frets that, at times, Jon is “gonna stumble and fall.” Lois, echoing the scene from All-Star Superman later recreated for the film Man of Steel, reminds him: “That’s why he’ll need you to help him fly”. What Superman #2 lacks in quantity of Lois Lane, it makes up in quality of Lois Lane.
Superman #2 quickly answers any lingering questions about the presence of a pair of Justice Leaguers in the previous installment and ends Jonathan’s initial efforts to conceal the death of the family tabby from his parents. Otherwise, though, Son of Superman — Part Two preserves and deepens the series’ sense of mystery by introducing a novel element into the unfolding tale, which may have something to do with the sudden appearance of a powerless Clark Kent in Action Comics. Also, I don’t trust that busybody Kathy Branden or her buttinsky grandfather, but maybe that’s just me.
What did you think of Superman #2? Jump into the comments and join in the ComiConversation!
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
This issue reads well, looks great, and effectively tells a seemingly straightforward story with multiple layers and considerable intrigue.