Friday, July 7, 2023

Review: Adventures Of Superman Jon Kent #5

Adventures of Superman Jon Kent #5 came out this week, the penultimate issue of this mini-series.

I'll be honest. I have struggled with this series since its beginning. This was billed as a Jon/Ultraman book and then jumped the tracks and became an Injustice book. If this had been billed up front as an Injustice mini (something I don't read), I may not have picked it up to begin with. The face-off against Ultraman was a plot worth examining but was cut short.

Writer Tom Taylor instead is mining the Injustice world again and I can understand why. It has been successful for him. And, I suppose, seeing Jon see some other darker version of his father has some potential. But most of the character beats have fallen flat here. In this issue, we see a haughty Jon being superior and almost insulting to other heroes. This is either a bad turn for the character or a set-up for a revelation next issue. Either way, not much else happens in this issue.

Clayton Henry continues to shine on art. His work is smooth and clean. There is a nice flow to everything. I don't necessarily like the Injustice versions of costumes but he brings a nice polish to them.

I don't know how this will wrap up in any satisfactory way. From what I have been told, this whole story happens early in the Injustice timeline. So I don't know how it could impact that world in a meaningful way.

On to the book. 

Here is my favorite moment in the book.

Jon, in the presence of Batman's rebels, declares that the Superman of this Earth has to be held accountable for his actions.

The rebels all say that he sounds more like Lois here than his father. One thing that does differentiate Jon from Clark is his upbringing. He is as much Lois as Clark. So I like to see the influence of his mother brought up.

Now don't ask me what it means that she lived truth. Or even lived for truth. But I like Lois being in the conversation. 

That said, really Jon is talking about fighting Superman. He doesn't have to reveal these truths. 

It is followed shortly thereafter by what I think is the worst moment of the book. 

Jon has learned what caused this Superman to turn towards fascism. Off to the side, Harley apologizes to Jon. She worked with the Joker when it all went down. She didn't think the Joker would win. She is working for the rebels. She has changed.

But Jon gets on his high horse here. He denies her forgiveness. And then tells her to change and make a difference. Hasn't she done that already by joining the side of good??

Once aged, and definitely under Taylor, I don't know if I have found Jon particularly likeable. He has always taken a superior tone towards people and here he almost is at his worst.

Meanwhile, the Superman of this world is blinded by the 'return' of his son.

Damien has to continue to remind him that Jon is a potential threat. And to prove it, he shows how the tracer he placed on Jon is outside Gotham.

I don't know the Injustice Superman at all. I suppose that the death of a pregnant Lois at his own hands makes this sudden appearance of his child jarring. If anyone reads Injustice, does his trust in Jon sound right?

Superman waits until Jon's tracer leaves Gotham and then mobilizes his Justice League. 

Here is my favorite panel of art in the book, the Injustice League looming over Batman, cloaked in shadow and dust. There is something almost Mignola-esque about this shot that grabs the eye. 

They make short work of the rebellion.

I don't know what Catwoman thought she would be able to do to Superman but Diana intervenes.

I thought for sure this would be a killing blow just given the loud crack and angle of the neck. I mean this is Wonder Woman hitting a normal human. I assumed Catwoman was dead.

Does the art oversell it?

Jon had left the rebels to head to the Fortress of Solitude. He decides to listen to the message Lois sent with him. (Luckily this universe has similar Kryptonian technology as main Earth so it works.)

Lois just reminds Jon of who he is. How his compassion, heart, and empathy are his greatest strengths. I guess she wanted to remind him of this so he wouldn't kill Ultraman? 

That said, I found this to be completely strange to read given his complete lack of compassion and empathy to Harley earlier in the book. Even his complete lack of understanding of how this Superman might have turned into the monster he is shows a lack of empathy. 

Now I suppose the Harley scene followed by this scene is a set-up for next issue where Jon might apologize to Quinn, or show some understanding. But since we won't (potentially) read that for a month, it just feels like we are being given/told two versions of this character.

And then Jon meets the Kents, forced to live in the Fortress by Superman for their own safety.

They seem like the usual Kents, hoping Jon can help Clark see the light. 

The issue ends with Superman broadcasting the execution of Batman's rebels on television the following morning. This also seems ludicrous. We have seen how cut throat this Superman is. Why would be delay the execution at all? Why not incinerate them right then? 

Why delay  ... unless ... the story needs the delay despite how nonsensical it is.

Maybe this will all wrap up nicely. Maybe. And maybe I will change my opinion on this story.
But given how this book has rolled out, I think I will be disappointed. 

Overall grade: C


Martin Gray said...

Great review, I suspect I’m giving Jon too much leeway… you’re right, he could have been kinder to Harley - her POV that of course the Joker wouldn’t win the day makes sense to her. Maybe he hadn’t murdered Robin, Sarah Essen etc in this world.

Whatever. This really is an Injustice book, not a Jon book (could DC please stop insisting we call him ‘Superman’? I ciudad almost see it from Jon’s position when his dad was off-Earth and possibly not coming back, but now?).

Yeah, what could Catwoman do? Maybe she’d had time to get a Super-powers pill?

AG said...

I agree with your assessment of the miniseries to date. I feel like a lot of plot happens - Jon to Ultraman, Jon going through Injustice, heck even in this issue the insurrection is captured and Jon goes to the Fortress of Solitude - but the impact is muted, because it feels very reactive. Like Jon isn't fully a character, but a collection of words and plot-points.

USA_Bats said...

I agree with Martin Gray that this is really an Injustice book starring Jon Kent of Earth One. But what Tom Taylor is finally getting around to is some measure of accountable for the shameless, and largely remorseless, way that the Harley Quinn character has been handled by DC. Harley Quinn was definitely an accomplice to mass-murder on this Earth (and many others) as well as the murder of Jon's mother on this Earth. Harley Quinn never gets prison, she never suffers, she never has any accountability for truly heinous acts. It is a serious moral problem at DC Comics. And if this Injustice story with Jon Kent is addressing morality, it really cannot ignore Harley Quinn's horrific acts against humanity.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

This is a case of my not knowing the Injustice world and not getting info. I only know the Harley I see here and don't have the backstory.

That said, Jon doesn't either.

As someone coming in with no Injustice knowledge, this is a hard read.