This review contains minor spoilers.
The wait is finally over. For DC Comics, Super Sons may well be the most important title to date. Over the last decade, DC’s biggest rival, Marvel, has been seeing tremendous success with Legacy Heroes – younger heroes who exist within the legacy of an existing character, be it Spider-Man, Captain America, Thor or Captain Marvel. There’s a sense in which Super Sons is DC’s response (albeit without the diversity element, but that’s being pushed in other books such as the new Justice League of America).
The first year of Rebirth has carefully developed the relationship between Damian Wayne’s Robin and Jonathan Kent’s Superboy. The dynamic between the two has quickly proved to be absolutely electric; they’re best friends and antagonists at the same time. Their superb character dynamic shone through particularly well in last year’s Superman #10 and #11, which essentially laid the groundwork for this new series.
The good news is, Super Sons #1 is the perfect launchpad. Peter J. Tomasi has experience writing both characters, and he created the brilliant dynamic between them in Superman #10 and #11, so it’s no surprise he develops it skilfully. He begins in true comic book fashion by dropping two prologues – one a past prologue featuring a mysterious adversary, and the other set in the future, showing just how badly this team-up is going to go and leaving us wondering just how the Super Sons got into this mess in the first place. Then, he spins back to tell the tale – and it’s clearly going to be a fun one.
The story proper opens on a school day, and Tomasi uses the idea of school bullies to explore just how frustrating the world must be right now for Jonathan Kent. When he steps in to protect a victim, he’s asked who he thinks he is – Superman? This is the irony of a secret identity; he has the power to make a difference, but must choose restraint. This is complemented by a nice scene later in the book, where he discusses this with his parents, and they point out it’s important for ordinary people to stand up, too.
It doesn’t take Tomasi long to dive into the humorous dynamic between Superboy and Robin, though, and I love the subtlety of his characterization. It’s pretty clear that the real reason Robin is almost stalking Superboy (he even impersonates a substitute teacher to take an Earth Science class!) is simply because he’s lonely. Not that he’d ever admit it, of course, but it’s not hard to read.
When evening comes, the parents are away and the Super Sons… well, you can guess what happens next. Robin has a mission, one that in his view is perfect for the two teenagers, and soon they’ve headed off into Metropolis for superheroic hijinks. Not that they get off to a good start; the issue ends with them crossing paths with a pretty major figure from the Superman universe (Damian’s response, of course, is “Tt.”)
The script is superb, and it’s made all the better by Jorge Jimenez’s excellent art. It’s pretty rare to see comics where teenage characters actually feel like teenagers from an artistic point of view, but Jimenez pulls it off with skill and aplomb. Where he absolutely shines, though, is in character-work; every facial expression is on-point, expressing Robin’s haughtiness or Superboy’s stubbornness, enhancing the quality of Tomasi’s script. Many scenes will feel like homages – there’s a brilliant one to The Dark Knight Returns that made me grin – but none are done in a heavy-handed way. Instead, they feel natural and organic, as though the book is having a laugh with the readers at the legacies it’s toying with.
All in all, Super Sons has gotten off to a fantastic start. I couldn’t be happier with this book; it’s exactly what I hoped it would be; fun, character-driven, and tongue-in-cheek. In my view, Super Sons #1 is unmissable.
Super Sons #1 is exactly what I hoped it would be; fun, character-driven, and tongue-in-cheek. The whole creative team is firing on all cylinders here.