Monday, February 26, 2018

Review: Super Sons #13

Super Sons #13 came out last week, the first part of an arc bringing Talia Al Ghul into the comic. After focusing primarily on the sons relationships with their fathers, and after seeing Lois in the mix, it was only a matter of time before the other mother got brought into the title.

I have always been a big fan of Talia. And I was especially happy with what Grant Morrison did with her, making her the head of an international crime syndicate who almost brought down Batman Inc. Now this was a woman worthy of being with the Detective, and very much in line with who Damian's mother should be. Peter Tomasi brings her down a peg or two here which might be in line with what has happened with her more recently. But I still thought it was a shame.

As always, the real grist for the title is the interaction between Jon and Damian. There has always been a difference of opinions between the two, as much as their fathers. But here, the seedier side of Damian's past comes to the surface, bringing in an extra layer of friction. It is one thing to say Damian is moody and conceited. It's another to say he's a killer. This should spice things up.

The art by Carlo Barberi is slick and akin to Jorge Jimenez enough to give the book its usual sheen. I love the school scenes as Barberi really gives us solid kid action.

On to the book.

We open with Jon playing a version of dodgeball and kickball with his classmates. One is named Georgia Bakshi. Now you can't name someone Bakshi randomly. And she certainly is animated, giving a Jon a run for his money. I have to think he has a little crush on her. Will there be more to here than just being the Big Girl on Campus?

Meanwhile, Damian arrives to school in the Wayne helicopter. It seems ridiculous. It can only open Damian to teasing or derision. I suppose he doesn't care. But you think Bruce would want a lower profile. (I do love that Jon, who can fly, still thinks it is cool that Damian arrives by chopper.)

Damian is even teased about his height here, called Short Round by Bakshi. And she is pretty sure of herself, owning him when he calls her an Amazon. I like her.

I have to imagine that Damian lives a lonely existence here. He brings down a homework assignment on his class. He sits alone. He acts full of himself. You would think that some of Jon's 'aw shucks' friendliness would rub off.

Even Jon's pride on acting like a 'regular guy' is cute. That's what Damian should strive for.

One thing that we have seen is that sometimes Jon shows a little bit of Damian has rubbed of on him.

After seeing Damian sulking on the bleachers during lunch, Jon calls out his partner for being mean to everyone. Jon says everyone has something special, something to be proud of, something that makes them worth protecting. It's time for Damian to get off his high horse and be a hero for the people, and recognize them.

I like that Jon espouses all the lessons Clark and Lois has taught him. But he has the brash nature of a kid, willing to get a little in people's grill to make sure he hammers home the point. He is truly Superboy ... Superman's adventures when he was a boy!

The discussion is cut short when Damian hears someone nearby. In the tunnel below the stadium, who shows up but Talia.

She thinks Damian is wasting his time and skills in this place. It is time for her son to join her once more.

There is something almost comical about this introduction. Look at the blase look on Damian's face when he tells Jon this is his mother. She has a knife to his throat and he is acting like it is a play date. That must be one weird relationship.

She rattles off Damian's lineage and training. Perhaps for the first time, Jon realizes just who Damian is. Death runs in his blood.

What would you do if your friend turned out to be an assassin?

Back in the Fortress of Attitude, the two begin the conversation about Damian's upbringing. Luckily, Damian can track her and her Shadow Guild ninjas. It is time for the boys to settle this themselves. (As always it would make too much sense to call in the dads.)

In the fight, a ninja breaks a sword off on the S-shield. I love Jon's comment. Batman told him everyone would aim for that. Reminds me of the famous line in Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns that Batman put a shielded yellow circle on his chest as a target. He knew people would aim there and protected that area. In this way, no head shots.

And then that subtle Talia downgrade.

She is in town doing routine assassinations to fill her coffers. She needs cash to rebuild her empire. So she sullies herself with wetworks.

I don't know. She'll always be the evil queen to me. She is so much more than Scandal Savage or Starling.

How weird is it that I have such an attachment to Talia?

Finally after another skirmish, Jon asks the tough questions. What was Damian trained to be? How many people has he killed? Is he a killer?

I can imagine that this revelation might shake the very foundation of the friendship. And it should. Batman doesn't kill. Superman doesn't kill.

The book adds another nice wrinkle with a cliffhanger making this a true story of the boys' mothers.

Another great issue, fun, entertaining, and gorgeous. So, of course, the book is being cancelled.

Thanks to the creative team for giving me a book I looked forward to reading every month!

Grade: B+


Anonymous said...

"Another great issue, fun, entertaining, and gorgeous. So, of course, the book is being cancelled."

They know, Anj. They check your blog. And every time they have to choose a title for cancellation, they wonder "What book is Anj enjoying?". Why do you think the plug has been put on Supergirl every time you thought the book had found its voice?

Joking apart, it's been a very entertaining issue, and it's a pity the book is ending so Bendis can reshape the Superman universe and the Titans franchise can be redefined.

Let us hope that it's for the best.

Martin Gray said...

As usual, we pretty much agree in our reviews... you're such a smart fella! I like Talia more than her dad, though I hate that she never seems to get sent to jail... this isn't Selina, a jewel thief, this is a mass murderess (heck, Damian should probably be heading Young Suicide Squad).

One especially sad thing about the cancellation is that we may never get that announced story in which Kathy visits Metropolis... she could have had a kittenfight with Georgia!