Friday, September 7, 2018

Review: Adventures Of The Super Sons #2

The reappearance of an older, scarred Jon Kent still hasn't happened in Brian Michael Bendis' Superman books and I am thankful for that. Because it means I get to enjoy the more playful and fun-loving Jon Kent from the Super Sons book.

Adventures of the Super Sons #2 came out this week and continued this fun romp through the DCU. Writer Peter Tomasi has shepherded Jon and Damian through their adventures together and I think he probably realizes the writing is on the wall that Jon and Damian will never be these kids again. So why not write a crazy story and borrow from DC's crazier history at the same time. This is a ton of fun, a sort of roller coaster ride where things happen fast as you careen into plot turns.

Carlo Barberi and Art Thibert are the perfect pair to provide art on the book, bringing a kinetic and somewhat cartoony feel to the proceedings, amping up that crazy factor a lot. The action especially leaps off the page in a four color wonderful way.

But the main thing is that this is a fun book. I find myself grinning as I read it, a reminder of all that Rebirth was supposed to do. It seems recently that DC wants to undo a lot of that, as if they hate the prosperity it brought them. So savor this while you can.

On to the book.

We start out on an alien world where the children are all being taught to revere Earth culture. And a big part of that is loving the exploits of the superhero community. They are all at their desks, drinking in the adventures.

We see one of the children who seems to identify more with Lex than with any of the heroes. That is who he wants to be. When he finds someone who wants to be the Joker, a gang is started. Now they need to find more villains.

Hey, these kids are basically the stand-ins for fans. They are us, growing up loving these stories and learning the history. We are them.

And who didn't, now and then as a kid, see a villain and think 'this character resonates with me?' For me it was usually the tragic villains, the ones who suffered being teased or humiliated and felt the need to lash out. But mostly it was Marvel's The Mad Thinker. I thought that guy was cool.

We are then caught up to the present. Last issue ended when the Kid Injustice Gang arrived to Earth and pretty much mopped the floor with the Sons. Jon was exposed to Gold K and lost his powers. And Rex Luthor donned his power gloves and was ready to dish out some punishment.

Rex unleashes his best left hook but all he gets is some Kirby Krackle. It seems the special belt Superman gave Jon last issue was a force field belt. Jon, for the moment, is safe.

Since these bad guys are basically comic fans and since Tomasi is having fun here, I wonder if we should be keeping our eyes peeled for homages.

For me, this issue's opening splash reminded me of the cover of Action Comics #466. But maybe that is a stretch on my part?

It turns out that what Rex is really after is the Hypercube in the Fortress. With that he can open up rifts to gather more bad guys from around the multiverse! (I better be prepared for lots more homages!) And since the Fortress is hard to break into, he'll use Jon to burgle the place.

At first Kid Joker uses the threat of violence to Damian to try to coerce Jon. But Rex has an even better idea. He'll use The Puppeteer, the villain from the beginning of issue #1. He can simple control the force field to make Jon act like his ... well ... like his puppet.

I love the retro 'toy space gun' look of the Joker's pistol. That smacks a bit of Silver Age. But describing what it would do to Damian as making him look like a Jackson Pollock painting? Chilling.

With little fuss, Jon is forced to walk into the Fortress, grab the cube, and return to the Gang's ship. There we see Rex now wearing the classic 70's Lex body suit. I love it. If Rex really is a student of old stories, it makes sense for him to dress this way.

But there is no honor among thieves. Rex doesn't need The Puppeteer any more. So he intends on killing him.

That threat really triggers the heroism in Jon. Despite being held still by The Puppeteer's tech freezing his force field, he wills himself to overpower it. He turns off the force field, freeing himself, and dives in front of Rex's blast.

While I love that Jon is so much like Dad that he would overwhelm and trap and rush to risk harm to himself to save another, I have to wonder how he survives this. Isn't he powerless right now?

Still, great scene.

For some reason, it doesn't kill Jon. And Rex wants to bring Jon back to his lab for experimentation. So Rex tells the Joker to bring Jon down to the brig to stay in stir with Damian.

It is there that we find that Kid Joker is actually a traitor to the Gang's cause. He doesn't believe in everything Rex believes in. In fact, we see that Rex sort of forced the Joker persona on his friend. After all, as a comic reader, I might think the Mad Thinker is cool but I don't think I actually want to be him. Probably the same for this kid. He might like the visual of the Joker ... but who would want to actually be the Joker?

He'll help the Sons instead, starting by giving Damian the synthetic Gold K.

The Gang discovers Joker's treachery and runs to the prison. But before they get there, Damian is able to change the radiation signature from gold to red.

Red K ... yes!!!

Plus a name drop of The Rainbow Raider? Also yesssss!

It is like rereading my childhood.

Because Red K can do all sorts of crazy things. For example, splitting Jon into Superboy Red and Superboy Blue.

I told you there would be homages throughout. This one is fairly obvious. I love how even the Chuck Taylor's changed colors!

Superman Red/Superman Blue has been a thing since Superman #162 way back when. It was also revisited in the Electric Blue Superman phase. So this is a ton of fun.

I said it last month and I'll say it again. I love these characters. I am going to hate to see them go away. I am going to hate to not be able to read their madcap adventures any more. At least I got one more ride on the merry-go-round.

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

Any idea what it does?

Oh, Damian. You'll NOT like the answer to that question. Paraphrasing the owner of the "Life and Times of Kara Zor-El" site, "whatever gimmick the writers needed that month".

Superboy Red and Blue. Heh.

This comic is sheer, old-school fun.

Martin Gray said...

As ever, this was huge fun. I’m hoping that by the time this year-long maxi ends, the Bendis experiment will be an acknowledge bust and this will just keep going. Stranger things...

Superboy Red and Superboy Blue! Excellent. And that next issue title is bonkers clever.

Anj said...

Yes, loved that next issue title as it plays up on 'old comics'.

Red/Blue Jon should be a ton of fun.

Martin Gray said...

And Gee as in G ie Green, Why as in Y... the classic four colours!