Monday, January 8, 2018

Review: Superman #38

Superman #38, the fourth part of the Super Sons of Tomorrow story line, came out last week and was fast moving, if somewhat inscrutable, chapter in this arc. This might be a Superman book but he is barely in the issue. Instead, this is a chapter in a multi-title arc. This will read normally inside a trade, less so for the fan who wants to read just the adventures of the Man of Steel.

Writers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have a great feel for Jon and Damian and much of this chapter revolves around those two characters. This would be a great issue of Super Sons. But there is a lot of this plot that I either simply have to accept. So much of this could be chalked up to 'because comic books'. And some of it is clear that reasons to get characters all in the same place at the same time means some weird events and motivations need to happen. And, of course, it all stems from the plot of a future Tim Drake wanting to rewrite history, a story which besmirches his character. 

The artist on the book is Sergio Davila who has a style akin to Jorge Jimenez. Despite running through several books, the stories look similar enough to make me feel it will be a smooth read in the trade.

On to the book.

Last issue, Jon went super-nova with a solar flare and was whisked away by Damian. The Titans split down the middle of either hunting down Jon (Beast Boy, Raven, and a murderous, gun wielding Tim 'Savior' Drake) and those hoping to give Damian some time and wanting to protect Jon (Kid Flash, Aqualad, and Starfire).

The good guys have the jump on the bad guys for once. Aqualad can sense the super sons beneath the waves, hiding out in their Fortress of Attitude.

But this is where you can see that some of the events of the story are a bit forced. Rather than hail the Fortress and talk things out, explaining their position, Starfire rams the Titans jet into the Fortress, breaching the building. Luckily Aqualad is there to seal things off.

So much could go wrong here from explosions to the jet bouncing off the Fortress to severe injury. Why not try to talk first?

Well maybe that was done to have the classic 'heroes fight' sequence. Because the heroes fight.

In the end, the two groups realize they are on the same side and calm down. But not before we once again get a 'Damian is a Bat-god' moment. He has developed an anti-superspeed gas.

Okay, the fight is a bit unnecessary but enough of a trope that I guess it felt like a mandatory element.

I did like seeing the two super sons talking before the Titans attack. Jon is still worried how the flare will effect him and Damian trying to calm him.

Meanwhile, the Titans of the future, seemingly more magnanimous in this reality than in their prior appearances as the 'evil older Titans', are trying to track down Tim to stop him.

In perhaps the most ridiculous element of this story, they have a time-ripped hand of Tim's which is trying to reunite with the rest of the body. Holding on, the future Titans are being pulled through time.

I love the background panel showing Tim's prior madness. I like the look of Cassie. But I have to roll with this. They are holding a time-displaced hand.

But everybody has to get together. Everybody. So Tomasi and Gleason have to jump through some hoops.

Tim and Jon decide the Fortress of Solitude is the safest place. To hide their minds from Raven, they allow themselves to get knocked out. So they and the Titans helping them arrive in the Arctic. Now awake, Raven is able to lock onto them so they arrive. The future Titans are being led by the hand (couldn't help myself) to Tim so they arrive. That's a lot of plot to put everyone on the game board. The knocked out sons is semi-ridiculous but makes sense within the story.

Don't forget Superman is there, trapped in a Red Kryptonite (maybe Sun) cage from Tim two issues ago.

When Jon sees his trapped Dad and can't free him, he goes bananas, full on Super-Saiyan.

I mean seriously, Davila has to be a Dragon Ball fan.

Go to google and type in 'Powering Up' and any of the following words: Goku, Gohan, Goten, Trunks, or Vegeta. You'll see what I'm saying.

Jon feels like Gohan in the Cell saga here.

Of course, Vegeta is my boy.

Everyone sort of watches Jon charge up in an 'emotional super storm' until they realize he is going to explode, probably causing the catastrophe Tim came back in time to stop.

Initially there is some infighting among the groups (including Superman nearly crushing Tim's jaw) but then they realize containing this is more important. The Flashes run around the event horizon to try to impede it's growth.

Gar becomes an octopus and plops on top of it. Why? Why I ask you??

It becomes clear that the only way to possibly stop it is to calm Jon down.

The Supermen, Clark and Conner, dive in to try and help. Always good to see a hero Conner. In fact, I like that this is the answer ... brain over brawn. But I don't like Jon being used as a plot device, as a super weapon.

As for Tim, his body is being pulled away by the time stream but even he is impressed by this sacrifice.

And then the biggest 'because comics' moment of them all.

Remember, this is a solar flare destined to kill millions.

Somehow the Savior realizes that he can absorb all that energy into himself. He has the heroes drop the shielding. The energy courses into him. Jon is depowered. All seems to be well.

Except ...

Tim is just a human. And this is a solar flare. Shouldn't this just incinerate him? Disintegrate him? Why would his teammates agree to drop the shield? Wouldn't they trust the Supermen more to calm Jon down? And how did Tim jump to this idea that he could contain the energy??

Why? Because comics!

I will say the most intriguing image was the ending splash.

Somehow all that energy seems to have flung Tim into hypertime. Tim can see all the realities. There's Crisis on Infinite Earths. There's Zero Hour. There is Flashpoint/Rebirth. He can see it all. I'm sure that'll snap his already fragile mind. But it makes me happy for some reason. I like the idea that these stories still 'happened', are still 'out there'.

But so far, this arc has been a bit too all over the map for me. From Jon being an explosive plot point, to disembodied hands leading people through time, to Red K traps, to Tim absorbing a planet destroying solar flare, this whole thing feels like comics on LSD.

Overall grade: C+


Anonymous said...

I'm afraid this issue was too full of groan-worthy and "because comics" moments to be enjoyable. It doesn't help I'm not particularly enjoying the story. It's clear this isn't the story arc which will return the original versions of Conner, Cassie and Bart, and it isn't a particularly engaging or good story either, so I'm feeling pretty indifferent.

I guess Jon going Super-Saiyan and Tim catching glimpses of other cosmic crisis, including the deaths of Kara and Barry are the issue's highlight for me.

Mela said...

"But I don't like Jon being used as a plot device, as a super weapon."

Sadly, that's all the current crew (and their defenders) can think of for him. Tomasi has his moments in Super Sons when he actually treats Jon as a character, but everyone else treats him as either (a) a horribly dangerous tykebomb (as we literally see here) or (b) a source of Man Feelings (where every emotion is only expressed via anger) for his Dad. The writers especially don't want him, and they're flailing to find a reason to get rid of him instead of actually showing some effort. Until that crew is out of there, all Jon will be is a weapon at best & another dead DC child character most likely.

Thank you for being the one reviewer not praising this awful story up & down. And frankly, that cover is APPALLING. But I guess by not seeing the value in yet another storyline in Superman (of all titles) about a minor being demonized/brutalized/both, I'm being condescending again to the all the poor Comics Dudes.

Martin Gray said...

There certainly was a lot of 'because, comics' in here, but also a lot of very fun moments. And the art - wow.

I wouldn't be surprised if this does indeed pave the way for the return of Cassie and co - the positive portrayal of the Titans of Tomorrow is a good start.

I don't see the Savior business as besmirching Tim's character, as this is future Tim. Now the suddenly super-obsessed regular DCU Tim, he needs to get a grip, because as it is, I can imagine a throughline to the older guy here,

William Ashley Vaughan said...

I know this is off topic, but any chance of coverage of the DC Superhero Girls 2018 Calendars-mini and regular size? There is some terrific Supergirl and Batgirl art on both.

Uncle Screensaver said...

With the image of Supergirl's and Flash's deaths, does this mean for certain Convergence never happened and original Kara and Barry did indeed die and aren't discovering the multiverse together?

Anj said...

I rythjng nd nothing has happened in DC.
I like to think Crisis did happen.

Anj said...

And thanks for all comments. I like hearing from those who like it more so I can hear those opinions and see if I’m missing anything.