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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Super Sons #1 came racing out of the gate last Wednesday in a debut issue entitled When I Grow Up… Part One. Writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Jorge Jimenez teamed up to bring Jonathan Kent and Damian Wayne out of their famous fathers’ long shadows. ComiConverse contributor T. Kyle King is here to review the series’ introductory installment.
Super Sons #1 Review:
Robin and Superboy — Damian’s superhero name is listed first because he’s older, by the way — go off in pursuit of adventure with youthful enthusiasm and impetuousness. How quickly will their efforts to follow in Batman’s and Superman’s crimefighting footsteps get the World’s Smallest in over their heads?
Super Sons #1 Synopsis:
Jonathan boards the bus to his Hamilton County school, which is piloted by a substitute driver. After the Kent boy sticks up for a classmate who is being picked on, the bullies get revenge in a schoolyard snowball fight — complete with rocks inside the frozen precipitation. The fill-in bus driver comes to Jon’s aid, then reveals himself to be Damian in disguise.
That night, Batman leaves the truant Robin at Wayne Manor when going out to patrol Gotham City. Clark Kent and Lois Lane commend their son for coming to the defense of the schoolmate on the bus. Later that evening, a bored Damian pays a nighttime visit to Jonathan. The two youngsters head to Metropolis to investigate suspicious activity Robin has identified, but their impulsive actions attract the attention of a certain flying figure in a cape.
Super Sons #1 Analysis:
In many respects, this is the book Tomasi has spent much of his career preparing to write; he has experience authoring tales about Damian Wayne, stories featuring Jonathan Kent, and comic books about both boys together. It therefore seems more than a touch unfair to consign the wordsmith of When I Grow Up… to secondary status, but, honestly, the artwork is just too good not to praise first. Jimenez pencilled and inked the images in Super Sons #1, which were embossed by Alejandro Sanchez’s colors, and the result is absolutely spectacular.
Jimenez, a sincere Man of Steel fan who designed the look of the Rebirth Superboy, delivers a winning Jonathan Kent, complete with lanky legs, scuffed knees, tousled hair, and an impish grin. The artist adds some cartoonishly whimsical touches to Super Sons #1 — I dare you to look at Damian’s hair without thinking of Teen Titans Go! — but he restrains himself from overdoing it. His depiction of the Kent family around the card table is genuinely charming; Jimenez’s Jon is adorable, his Superman flies straight out of a Christopher Reeve movie, and his Lois once again provides a template for how to draw the pre-Flashpoint first lady of superhero comics without making her either matronly frumpy nor exploitively hypersexualized. If that scene didn’t sell you on how fantastic this artistic tandem is, the shot of the silhouetted Robin and Superboy leaping before a bolt of lightning certainly should have.
The quality of the graphics would have earned When I Grow Up… Part One a favorable rating, even if Tomasi had mailed it in on the script. As noted above, though, the architect of the adventure set up this series expertly, starting with In the Name of the Father. In Super Sons #1, Tomasi hit all the right beats, beginning with an ostensibly unrelated cold open that promises to pay off later, joining Robin and Superboy in medias res before circling back to the story’s starting point, and ending on a page-turn cliffhanger reveal. In the midst of this, a linear narrative took up most of the book, highlighting the defining character traits of the titular twosome and their adult influences with economical exposition and unforced flow. The banter between the boys kept the conversation lively in an issue that moved swiftly but did not hurry and accomplished much without feeling overstuffed.
Super Sons #1 represented a solid start for a series that DC Comics wisely took the time to get right. Tomasi has been a major contributor to the total tonal turnaround from the New 52 to Rebirth, and the artwork generated by Jimenez’s and Sanchez’s teamwork is simply gorgeous. In the not very distant past, the publisher would have ruined this concept, producing a convoluted and pervasively gritty pairing of sociopathic assassin Damian Wayne with doomed antihero Jon Kent in stories Tomasi was compelled to fill with gritted teeth, snarled threats, and gratuitous brutality. When I Grow Up… demonstrates that a kinder, gentler sensibility finally has replaced that previous meanspirited misapprehension of maturity.
Are you on board with the second-generation Caped Crusader and the Last Grandson of Krypton?
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T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Source: DC Comics