Friday, July 15, 2022

Review: Superman Son Of Kal-El #13

Superman Son Of Kal-El #13 came out this week, the debut of the Supergirl TV show character Dreamer into the comic DCU. Outside of that event, the issue seemed to push the Gamorra storyline closer to the finish line even if very little actually happened in this issue.

Tom Taylor teamed up with Dreamer actress Nicole Maines to write the story. We get a fair bit of information on Dreamer to catch up those who didn't watch the Supergirl show (and shame on you if you didn't). As in the show, she is going to have almost too big a power set. But maybe that will be controlled a bit more here. I do like that she seems a bit of a novice here. She isn't the more accomplished Dreamer from the show. She's a newbie. That should be fun to explore.

Using her powers, we get to see the threat that President Bendix is preparing as the Gamorran Rising is just about to crest. As you'll see, Bendix seems to be more organized in the future, unlike the odd random attacks he has done in the past.

Clayton Henry is on art and does a very good job here. Much of the issue is people talking but the expressive work and body language helps tell the story more than the words. And the action we do get is brutal. 

I am growing a bit fatigued of this whole storyline so I am hoping this issue is a bit of an accelerator to bring us to the end. On to the book.

Last issue, a corrupt Senator was shown to have been in cahoots with Bendix and even part of the experiments! Also, Jay Nakamura was unmasked!

Taylor gives us a good opening page of the social media and news world response. Most of it seems to focus on Jay and not the Senator. There is a typical 'right wing media' representation of a screaming man calling out Jay for his 'news'.

But this is one of those interesting pages that I think could have been more. Maybe a 9 panel grid. Because this is complicated. Jay IS the son of the removed President. His news should be looked at as potentially being biased. To only show that from a screaming reporter makes it seem like it should be ignored. It shouldn't!

And maybe seeing one news outlet concentrating on the Senator as much as Jay could have shown that there are upstanding outlets who cover all the news.

Honestly, I really craved to see the Planet's coverage! What does Lois have to say!! I honestly hoped I would get that on the page turn.

With the news out, people are 'gathering' outside Jay's apartment and Jon is getting worried. He needs to get Jay someplace safe. And the only place he can think of is the Fortress.

Heading inside, they find Dreamer sitting there being served Tea by Kelex.

First off, I love this page. Just a perfect opening splash, down to the way Dreamer holds her legs.

Now some analysis.

Seems Taylor might be implying it is a potentially angry crowd outside Jay's apartment. But Taylor also condoned open protests and gatherings earlier in this run. Those could have been potentially angry. But here the implication is the threat of violence to Jay is too much. Would he say that about other protests? I only bring this up to say, again, that when you steep super-hero stuff in real world issues it can get messy.

Second, I love that the Fortress again has a giant key to unlock a giant door! Hurray Silver Age!

Lastly, Dreamer comes right out and says she is Nia Nal. And she got into the fortress by walking through a dream an animal in the interplanetary zoo was having. So she can dreamwalk/teleport. Hmm ...

She shows Superman and Jay events from a week ahead. The Joker killed. A chemo-like being filled with Joker gas dropped on Gotham. A slew of the Rising coming in to stop the JL from rescuing citizens.

While Jon removes the gas by inhaling it, our heroes are quickly killed.

Of course, the gas has Kryptonite in it, killing Jon slowly from the inside.

Even Batman is offed old school. Bendix puts a bullet into Bruce's head. The old 'not faster than a speeding bullet' line is said.

Wasn't there some terrible take on Superman a while back where the Kents were killed this way. I forget who but some writer I would not let within 10 feet of Superman wrote some awful pitch where Superman watches the Kents get offed.

We are dropped into the scene immediately and knowing Dreamer's powers I intuited pretty quickly this was a dream sequence. But it is brutal and well done by Henry with vicious attacks and corpses everywhere.

So one week to try and make this vision not happen. I suppose, unlike classic Dream Girl, these are potential visions.

We do get a link to the current Legion series in a way. Jon had heard he would be meeting Nia from Nura in the future. Nura said Nia was the most notable Dreamer in history.

And, in a bit of Brainy Ex Machina, he gives her Dream Gauntlets from the future to help Nia control her 'dream energy'.

One thing I didn't like about the Dreamer character was her crazy power set. Dream interpretation and precognition is one thing. Dream force fields? Dream energy whips? Dream blasts? A bit much.

Here is the best moment of the book.

Jon worries he won't see his father again and Nia says he definitely will. She has seen it. 

A bit trite but the single tear and Jon's thanks hit me in all the feels.

But what now.

Well, Jon thinks he has to take the fight to Gamorra. He also wants to leave Jay safely tucked in the Fortress. Neither Dreamer or Jay likes this 'damseling'. Cute moment.

Jay agrees that Jon can't go in and just take over. (Thank you!) After all, Gamorra is a sovereign state. Instead that has to come as a revolution, one Jay thinks he needs to lead.

Of course, he then asks for Jon to be there as back-up. Hmmm ....

This is a gray area that is hard to navigate in these pages. Would Taylor say the crowds outside Supreme Court houses are justified? Or potentially violent and therefore the people inside should be whisked away? Would Taylor have Jon join Jay in overthrowing the US government?

I know ... these are 'apples to pears' arguments. But it doesn't mean you can't ignore people wondering these questions ... and wondering if the pages of Superman are the right place to cover them. We don't have intangibility and heat vision here.


Dreamer was handled well and I loved her dialogue throughout. Always glad when the Supergirl show resonates in the comics. This does seem to mean that we have a week of comic time to wrap up the Gamorra plot. Hopefully that means things will end soon.

Overall grade: B


Martin Gray said...

Excellent points about this book’s differing presentations of protests.

I enjoyed this issue a fair bit, I feared it was going to be a podium for preaching, but happily Dreamer was just there as a plot engine.

Anonymous said...

Per solicits, the Bendix story will still occupy September's issue. Maybe the story will finally end then, or resurface later.

Staring in October, there will be a 6-part crossover with Action following Clark's return, and we'll see if Taylor comes up with something new after the crossover.

That crossover should conclude around the same time as Dark Crisis in December, so the regular monthlies may finally catch up to those events. And after that it seems reasonable to expect at least some changes to the status quo.


Steve said...

There is no status quo at DC. It's all Batman titles and Crises. I'm down to one or two books a week from them now.

Anj said...

I suppose 3 more months is better than 9 more months.

I haven't been able to embrace this book as much as I'd like to.

Thanks all for comments.