Monday, June 12, 2023

Review: Adventures Of Superman Jon Kent #4

Last week, I reviewed Dark Knights of Steel #11 and gushed a bit. In that comic, writer Tom Taylor has done a great job of world building and crafting character. That feels like a complete world and everyone there feels three dimensional. Huzzah. Kudos Tom Taylor.

Right below it on the read stack was Adventures of Superman Jon Kent #4 written by Tom Taylor. This book didn't grab me anywhere near as much as Dark Knights did. There is things about this issue, this series, and indeed the recent characterization of Jon that just aren't working for me. 

This is basically an Injustice book meaning I am being thrown into a universe I know little about. I don't know the motivations of these versions of the characters. I don't understand what is going on here. I don't collect Injustice by choice. Now I do. This was a lane change from the way the book was advertised.

But here is the thing. I don't know this world. Neither should Jon. He is just learning that his father is very different in this world. You think he would take some time to learn about this world because people can be very very different from his world. But here he somehow can figure out which people are trustworthy based on how they act on his world. Seems naive or dangerous. But despite putting total faith in those people, he can't really decide who is on the side of right on this world. He thinks both Superman's dictatorship and Batman's rebellion are wrong. 

The Ultraman plot which was supposed to be the main plot of this book is brought up again but only to introduce a deus ex machina that I am sure will come into play later.

Darick Robertson is on art this issue. I've always liked Robertson's art so was glad to see him on a book. This issue is pretty busy with a lot of characters walking in and out of the book. Robertson shines on the action sequences, especially with Jon's electric powers. His style is different than usual artist Clayton Henry so I wonder how it will seem when the story is read in one lump.

Still, overall this book isn't one I can easily recommend. On to the particulars.

This Superman isn't as overtly evil as Ultraman but it is clear he rules this world with an iron fist. 

I like that Jon both wants to go home but also stay and help. That is heroic. 

To be honest, I am hoping we see more scenes between this Kal and this Jon. If anyone could remind Superman what he used to stand for. That is fodder for some good character moments. 

Ultimately Jon ends up following Luthor to the Batman's rebellion HQ.

Lex has absconded with the corpse of Ultraman. 

Remember, this series started with the concept of Ultraman killing Supermans in all the other universes. Now we know how he did it. He had something built into his costume designed to weaken Superman. My guess is we won't know the who made it or how it was made. This is an easy out to explain the plot that was cast aside as well as provide an answer for the Injustice world.

Will this book end with Jon fighting Superman? Will this Superman be killed by Ultraman's device?  If this does have some major impact on the story, it'll feel like a bit of a cheat.

It's a rebellion. He's Superman son from another universe. So of course, they jump him.

In the battle, Jon goes full blue electric.

I like Robertson's work on these pages, especially the splash where the power manifests completely. 

In some ways, I wish they'd commit to the blue lightning completely. It would differentiate him from the other super-family which has become a bit bloated.

Even in this world, Batman is something of an aloof know-it-all. Without knowing much, Jon knows that Batman wasn't there for Superman. And there is this ongoing discussion of the loss of Dick Grayson on this world.

Jon somehow immediately knows that Batgirl and Alfred are good people ... I guess everywhere ... so he sides with Batman's group. Sure Alfred stops the above fight and serves tea. But how does Jon really know.

On this nightmare world, couldn't Babs and Alfred also be nightmares?

There's another confrontation with Damian who seems as much a jerk on this world as he occasionally seems on the main Earth. Damian is clearly aligned with Superman so that makes Jon a potential threat.

Again, how does Jon know that on this earth Damian drinks ovaltine? 

How can you base your knowledge of this world on the main Earth so neatly when things clearly have gone awry here.

Jon realizes he needs someone he can talk to who is outside the super-battlefield.

Now look, call me biased.

He could talk to Kara. (I don't know if she is dead on this Injustice world.)
Or he could talk to Superman to try and see through the grief and see if he can help his father. Maybe that would be the easiest way to help this world.

Instead, he flies to Gamorra to talk to this world's Jay Nakamura. Is Jay's father still a despot? Is Jay different on this Earth? A follower of his father? Why is he still in Gamorra? What does Jon know about this Jay?

Of course, this world's Jay is just as nice and smart and helpful as he is on the main Earth. 

Too bad. Because wouldn't it have been a good story beat for Jon to go to Gamorra and find Jay working for the regime? Wouldn't that be more intriguing that this coy pillow talk?

Heck, for all I know, this is all a front and Jay is working for his fascist father. But I doubt it. Jay must remain unblemished.

Jon flies off.

Damian enters.

But as I have no real interest in this world or either of these characters, this was a cliffhanger that didn't grab me. 

Maybe I needed one more issue where Jon actually investigates this world, learns it's history, actually finds out who he can trust, rather than just assuming who is trustworthy based on their lives on a very very very different Earth. I just couldn't get over that one thing in this issue, which is one of a story that isn't one that has grabbed me.

So Dark Knights of Steel? Home run.

Adventures of Superman? Strike out.

Overall grade: C-


arw1985 said...

Since this seems to be placed before the events of the Injustice video game, Kara wasn't on Earth just yet. She doesn't show up until the Injustice 2 comic series.

Bostondreams said...

As has been said, Kara is not yet present, but her arc once she does is really really good, in my opinion. In the comics, she goes from joy at having her cousin, and helping him regain power, manipulated by Black Adam and Wonder Woman, to turning on him in horror and fighting tooth and nail. In the game, if you play Batman's side, she eventually defeats her cousin, saves millions, and joins the Justice League. If you play Superman's side, he imprisons her under a red sun when she rejects him and then banishes her to the Phantom Zone. :(
I think you would love how Kara is portrayed in both the comic and game. She is power and compassion in one.

Martin Gray said...

Thanks for a great review…I couldn’t be bothered to do this one myself, which may say something.

Excellent point about Jay… is he really the only person Jon could think of who was non-aligned and bound to be whiter than white? As you say, this is a twisted world, why would he feel he could trust anyone? Even his father’s multidimensional twin is totally off.

This is, what, the third time Jon has gone ooh ooh electric blue… enough already, let’s see this addressed.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Jon book where he’s having some fun?

Will you be reviewing Steelworks?

Anonymous said...

I've been reading this series and will resignedly finish it. I collected the prior complete series too, but kept wanting to drop it.

This time I was hoping for the confrontation with Ultraman that we'll never see, and at this point hope that at least Jon doesn't somehow resolve the Injustice conflict. That would be ridiculous. Let him learn he just can't necessarily resolve everything. (Regardless of the resolution, I don't see how this series can be rescued.)

Search youtube for "injustice all cut scenes" to see all the non-fighting scenes.

And for an amusing video, this one collects all of the possible variations for when Supergirl meets Power Girl. The two of them just throw sarcastic barbs at each other. It's very repetitive and ridiculous, but funny.