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 #6 was released this week, bringing Peter J. Tomasi’s and Patrick Gleason’s Son of Superman storyline to a dramatic conclusion. This action-packed issue closed out the arc with iconic imagery and uplifting revelations. ComiConverse’s Krypton correspondent, T. Kyle King, offers his thoughts on the new edition.
Review: Superman #6
Superman and the Eradicator are battling in the Batcave on the moon. What more could anyone want out of a comic book than that?
Actually, Superman #6 has plenty more in store, but a warning is in order before proceeding any farther:
(TOTAL SPOILERS FOLLOW!)
Superman #6 Synopsis:
Fuelled by the strength of the Kryptonian spirits contained within him, Kal-El batters the Eradicator. The ferocity of their fight reaches a fever pitch so intense, it causes moonquakes that attract attention on Earth. Satellites begin broadcasting the battle as the Man of Steel calls forth the lone Kryptonian still contained within the amoral automaton: Krypto.
Now powerless, the Eradicator shuts down. The freed Kryptonian souls signal their gratitude and approval to Kal-El. Superman and his family return home to Earth, amid much acclaim for what the world views as its new Man of Tomorrow. Clark gives Jonathan a cap for the hometown team and a pair of glasses to wear as a disguise, then Superman takes Superboy to the Watchtower to introduce him to the Justice League.
Superman #6 Analysis:
The artwork in Superman #6 is spectacular. Conceptually, the culmination of the Son of Superman story is larger than life, and the graphics are appropriately bold without going over the top. Gleason’s pencils manage to mesh several different styles, from his manga-like Jon to his more photorealistic Eradicator, without causing any of the images to clash or making any character look out of place.
Krypto’s emergence from within the Eradicator is perhaps the best example of Gleason’s artistic range. A Silver Age super-pet escapes from a Modern Age supervillain in a scene that is both terrifying and inspiring, and at no point does any part of the sequence seem absurd. The enormous impact on the moon has real force within the story, and Superman’s subsequent restoration of the lunar module and the American flag beside it produces a memorable image that comes across as classic when it could have seemed simplistic and cheesy.
Not many artists can sell titanic super-struggles in space and heartwarming mother-son silliness with equal verisimilitude in the span of a few pages, but — with one noteworthy exception, to which we shall get anon — Gleason does justice to every character and setting without making any individual element of Superman #6 seem like it doesn’t belong. This sparkling artwork was the result of a total team effort, though, as Mick Gray’s inks give real substance to Gleason’s forms, John Kalisz’s colors bring Son of Superman vividly to life, and (in spite of a “lone” that ought to have been an “alone”) Rob Leigh’s letters provide the issue’s numerous sound effects with weight and force. Superman #6 would be visually stimulating, even had the verbal storytelling been sub-par.
Fortunately, Gleason and co-author Tomasi did not short-change the script, which was strong both in characterization and in dialogue. Overlapping panels combining close-ups of the villain’s and the hero’s faces were given greater significance by such intertwined declarations as the failing Eradicator’s plaintive paean to the “legacy of the House of El—” and the interrupting Superman’s emphatic assertion: “—belongs to Jon.” Lois’s exchanges with Jonathan, in which the mother’s wisdom tempers the son’s enthusiasm, likewise provided some nice moments for both characters.
While quite solid, though, the writing and the accompanying imagery fell just short of being pitch-perfect. As sweet as the interplay between Lois and Jon almost always is, the decorated Daily Planet reporter’s brief turn in the Bat-suit was followed by her unnecessary relegation to a lesser role. The older pre-Flashpoint Superman remains as musclebound and virile as ever — Clark is even deemed worthy of a butt shot in tight-fitting blue jeans in Superman #6 — yet his wife and contemporary is given a matronly makeover so thorough that, while her husband is being presented with the key to the city by the mayor of Metropolis, Lois is shown in a terrycloth bathrobe with a laundry basket on her hip and her hair styled for convenience rather than appearance. (Dan Jurgens has said Lois and Clark are in their late thirties, meaning this Lois is three or four years younger than Amy Adams, the real-life mother who performed a sexy bathtub scene as Lois Lane.)
Just as Clark is able to strike a balance between world-saving superhero and dedicated family man, so has Lois always been capable of being multifaceted rather than one-dimensional. That is part of what attracted the invulnerable Kryptonian to a human woman who remained courageous even in the face of actual danger; indeed, it is the crux of the Eradicator’s and the Action Ace’s argument. The former condemns “the half-breed boy” as a source of shame, while Kal-El correctly contends: “Jon is not a mistake!”
Both Kryptonian combatants concur that Jonathan is as much Lois’s child as he is the Man of Steel’s, but Superman is right, and the Eradicator is wrong, because the 50 per cent of the boy’s makeup that came from Lois Lane is a source of strength, not weakness. Instead of overemphasizing the ways in which Jon will “be just like Dad”, therefore, Son of Superman needed to strike a slightly better balance by showing what Jurgens showed in Superman: Lois and Clark — the fact that Superboy combines the best of both worlds. That requires giving both worlds their due.
While this is a meaningful shortcoming to Superman #6, and one that merits future attention, it is, fortunately, a fixable flaw in an otherwise outstanding issue. Now that Tomasi and Gleason have partially undone their previous tendency toward fridging the Superman Family pets (and gone a long way toward making up for it by putting the cape back on Krypto), this series’ Rebirth reboot is doing what two-thirds of the central cast members are doing on the issue’s cover — looking up.
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T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Source: DC Comics
Aside from one significant misstep with an important character, this issue was pitch-perfect in tone, appearance, story and characterization.