Monday, January 24, 2022

Review: Superman Son Of Kal-El #7

Superman Son of Kal-El #7 came out last week and was an interesting issue, a perfect microcosm of whatI like, sort of not like, and wonder about this title.

What do I like? I like that Jon is a younger, brasher Superman. We see how he has the foundation of his father and his mother's ethics. He wants to help. He cares about everyone. And he wants the truth to be known. There is a scene here where he saves a young boy that might be my favorite moment in the book. 

What do I not like? Well, this is a socially progressive comic and so every issue is going to cover a 'ripped from the headlines', real-problem. I get that comics have always covered political or environmental issues. How did I learn about the dangers of nuclear waste as a kid? But these days I hope to escape in comics. I understand and worry about these real-life issues already. This comic has given us a sort of simplistic, one-sided view of these issue that make them seem too easy to solve. This issue Jon comes face to face with water pollution. Thankfully Superman leading a school walk-out to protest climate change isn't in the issue. I'm not dropping $4 to read that. 

What do I wonder? Well, I continue to wonder if Jay Nakamura is a sort of villain here. I think he is manipulating Jon. It would be bold to have writer Tom Taylor make Jon's boyfriend be duplicitous. But relationships of all sorts can be sour. I'd applaud it in some ways. It wouldn't need to change Jon's sexuality; it would just mean he was dating a jerk.

John Timms isn't on art here. Cian Tormey invokes enough of Timms' style to give the book the same feel of the others while giving us some solid action. There is a nice use of negative space here on one page that works well. 

On to the book.

The story is a flashback. Jay reporting from The Truth about a tragedy which has struck Metropolis, ending with the death of something called The Gamorra Corps. Most importantly, Jay keeps saying that Superman can't be blamed for the damages. So we know where this will end up. 

But we have to get there.

Last issue, Jon learned that Jay's mother, the former President of Gamorra, is still alive. Together they will find her.

This last line by Jay just hangs there. People believe Jon when he says things. I wonder if that is another power Jay has. He says things and people believe them, people like Jon. 

The two head out to a derelict ship,  Jay introducing Jon to the staff of The Truth, broadcasting from a ship in the harbor. Maybe Superman can become the unofficial spokesperson for the station. And also, maybe Jon can put on a different costume and become an agent of The Truth.

I don't know if Superman should be working for such a site. But I guess that is what this book is trying to show us, that a younger generation hero might be more of an activist. But still, Jon is the son of Lois and Clark, two journalists of the highest integrity. Why would he work for this place? Unless ...

Somehow Jay is mentally nudging him there.

Look at this exchange.

When Jay tells Jon he would fit in and it could be good for him, Jon falls right in and says 'sounds appealing'. 

We shall see. But I've read enough Silver Age stories where cads try to turn Kara bad to have my worries.

Their discussion is interrupted by a humungous monster lumbering out of the ocean towards Metropolis. The thing is appropriately called a leviathan. But not Leviathan!

This is my favorite moment in the book and the series.

People start to panic when they see this giant crab thing and a young boy falls. Jon helps him. And says the most Superman thing he could. It might look like a monster but it doesn't have to be evil. But just in case, he'll head out.

That is Superman. 

Heading out to the ocean, Superman sees that Aqualad (or is is Aquaman) has shown up to help too.

After a little investigation, it seems this thing was woken from a deep slumber on the ocean floor due to a lack of oxygen. The ocean is being poisoned and this slow suffocation has roused this thing.

Climate change and ocean pollution is the real life topic of the day.

I also liked this panel by Tormey where Jackson talks about oceanic deserts, places devoid of life at the ocean floor. Nice negative space to add to the desolation. 

I wonder how he can survive there?

This is one problem Jon can't solve. Unless he invokes his will over the people of Earth. This is the double edged sword of putting real life problems into books like this.

Superman and Aquaman actually start to steer the thing away from the city's waterfront. 

But Gamorra's President Bendix and Lex Luthor have a different idea.

Luthor teleports in Gamorra's superhuman team, The Gamorra Corps. 

There's something sort of 90's Image about Tormey's design. Whether it is the long hair of the woman leader or the giant narrow rifle the tank is touting, it just screams EXTREME! You would think that a place just dipping their toe in super-powers and run by a dictator would go for this sort of gaudy look. 

And they are extreme, They just begin to attack the gargantuan creature ... but without much effect. In a nice move, Jon jumps in front of one of the blast to protect this thing. That's Superman.

Given the lack of effect, the group decides to retreat.

Except Bendix seems to have some control over them. Bendix sees some opportunity can be had through tragedy. He stops one of the Corps. And that agent, named Sparks, gets swatted by the crab, killing him.

Now it will be interesting to see how Bendix wants to play this. Will Bendix play up the 'heroic death' of this guy, trying to protect Americans? Make it seem it is Superman's fault ... as foreshadowed by Jay at the beginning? Show how dangerous the world is with monsters like this and how people need to trade with Gamorra? 

Nice cliffhanger.

Anyways, of all the things of this book, the 'is Jay using mental powers on Jon' is the thing I am most intrigued with. 

I'd like some more moments of Jon at least thinking about the legacy of the name Superman and how he is filling Clark's shoes. 

Overall grade: B


Martin Gray said...

Nice review, great observation on the negative space. I’m with you, I still don’t trust Jay.

Bendix’s plan seems very heavy-handed, it’s not like the US is short of heroes.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed seeing Chaos Kitten and Thylacine from Taylor's run Suicide Squad again - I don't think they got much to do in that series. And probably won't do much here either. They're mostly martial artists.

But - Jon getting mixed up with the unconventional Revolutionaries seems like a risky direction for him, and for the book. It makes me nervous, waiting to see what messes Jon gets into next; to see if he's getting manipulated by Jay; and if he's falling in with the wrong crowd. All the while, the book is at or over the line in terms of engagement with social causes.

So there's some question how long I'll stick with the series.

I'm interested in reading the crossover with Nightwing, which I think is starting in Nightwing in February, so I'll be continuing to read for at least for a while, and hope it grows on me.