Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Review: Superman Son Of Kal-El #6

Superman Son of Kal-El #6 came out last week and moved the storylines of Gammora forward nicely while giving us some solid character moments as well. 

I haven't always liked the way the politics of the storylines here have been told, finding them a bit too easy in presentation and summation. This issue things are much more straightforward in their super-heroics with a touch less preaching and a bit more unifying. 

Writer Tom Taylor has promised to give us a progressive Social Justice Superman and we see that here as Jon isn't going to let marginalized people be kidnapped and used as lab rats by the bad guys. But this isn't a left or right wing issue. People shouldn't be taken. Hurray for super-heroes being heroes.

We also have the more personal subplots of Jon getting romantic with Jay Nakamura. I have had my concerns that Jay might be a villain in disguise, or at least a well-meaning vigilante manipulating Jon somehow. Here he comes off as more sympathetic with a more defined backstory. 

And we get to see how Jon is as Superman but also as the son of Clark and Lois. I see so much of those two in him. Clark and Lois don't always see eye to eye. Seeing the amalgam in Jon is probably my favorite part of the book. 

The art by Jon Timms remains flawless. I love the expressive work. The super-hero battles and powers are really energetic and eye-catching. And even his costume design - here Jay sports a sort of stealth suit as well as his on-line presence - is great. 

So this might be my favorite issue of the book mostly because it felt and read like a comic book. And that's really what I am coming to this media for.

On to the book.

We start out in Bludhaven where young homeless people are psionically put to sleep and put into cargo bins on a tanker. 

This being in the door can force people to sleep with his mind. And he seems to be looking for vulnerable but healthy young people to bring ... somewhere. 

Meanwhile Jon is full of nerves as he heads to Jay's house for an impromptu date. That inner monologue of his, saying how nerve-wracking this is going to be despite his past encounters with super-villains, rings so true. I have felt those jitters myself. 

But Jay is owed a meal and Jon is happy to fly off for some food and a date on any roof in Metropolis. I do like Jay's choice of venue - the Daily Planet globe. 

I'd think that would be Jon's choice. He probably heard from his folks about some of their dates there and figured why not try to mimic that vibe.  So that feeling that Jay is a mind-reader and manipulator pinged there. Maybe Jay read Jon's mind and picked a place he knew would have special meaning?

But here is where we get Jay's backstory. 

His mother was President of Gamorra. When Bendix came to the place, he promised the world and was voted in. Jay's mother was taken away. Jay isn't even sure if she is alive.

Now in power, Bendix changed the country's economy to focus on creating super-beings. Jay was one such guinea pig, experimented on until he gained his phasing powers.

While this gives Jay a sad backstory, it also raises the question on how he has remained so under the radar in the States. This is the refugee son of a kidnapped president of a foreign country. He hasn't changed his hair color. Heck, he didn't even change his last name. Don't you think in this social media crazed world there would be stories about him somewhere? 

How is he living this unseen life here?

Jay dons a stealth suit and he and Jon head off to try and figure out how Faultline was removed from STAR Labs and dropped onto the Kent form. 

The best way to figure that out? Break into STAR Labs and steal their security footage. With Jay's phase power it is all too easy. 

Except when he gets in there, he sees that both Robin and Lois Lane have broken in with the same mission. Odd that Lois doesn't recognize Jay even with his Grifter mask. And I like how Lois thinks it is cute that both Jay and Damian are trying to help Jon. 

I guess I have to just accept that Lois somehow got in there. I suppose she has friends and is owed favors everywhere. 

I also think that straight up breaking and entering is strange for a Superman book for someone named Superman to even condone. Maybe they could have asked for the footage first?

Later, after absconding with the footage, a damning picture is painted. A US Senator and a Gamorran ambassador are seen escorting Faultline out. This certainly will be juicy for the various news feeds, a smoking gun indeed.

But this is one of those 'too easy' moments that I see in this book. Do you really think that a Senator and an Ambassador would be the actual people to walk out with Faultline? Don't you think they have lackeys to do just that? 

All too easy. 

I liked Damian being in the book as the Super Sons were always fun together. I like how he would be trying to help his friend out.

And I like how he effortlessly reads the room and senses the romance simmering between Jon and Jay. Look at that grin by Damian and the 'aw shucks' look from Jon. Wonderful.

I actually love that there is no drawn out discussion over this relationship. It is just acknowledged like any new romance would be. 

A quick call to the Gamorran embassy and Jay learns that the noted ambassador is on a slow boat back to Gamorra, the very freight barge holding the kidnapped kids from the beginning. 

Nice dynamic panel of Jon confronting them about the attempt on the Kent's lives. 

But I have to ask, would a political figure like a Gamorran ambassador really travel on a slow freight ship carrying kidnapped Americans? Isn't their a diplomatic flight that would get him home in hours not weeks? Would he really want to be in the presence of children he has forced into cargo holds against their wills?

This, again, is simple short cuts in the story that don't read right to me. 

Despite a whammy by the sleep-psionic, Jon is able to grab both the container with the kidnapped kids and the ambassador and fly off. 

Jon will turn over the ambassador to the Justice League to answer for all the crimes he allowed himself to be visibly part of. (Seriously, it makes no sense.)

But before that, Jon intimidates him with the 'let my fly you high in the sky and imply I might drop you' move used by supers in the past. He asks one question - is Jay's mother alive? The answer is yes. 

Sounds like a side mission into Gamorra is going to happen. Although you might think with this information, Jay could flood his media outlet and force a more legal response.

Back in Gamorra, Bendix is teady. The Rising, that word tossed around by Lex in the Superman Annual, is about to happen. We see Gamorra may have cornered the market on enhanced humans.

Okay, I definitely had some minor qualms with this issue but overall this was the best one of the title so far. I like getting more information about Jay. I like Lois being part of the book. And I loved the Robin appearance.

Hoping this continues to improve.

Overall grade: B-

1 comment:

Martin Gray said...

You like Jay’s stealth suit?

Can we still be friends?

Excellent point about his hair and surname making him rather obvious as political refugees go; he certainly seemed less dodgy this time, but it likely a bluff. He’s eeeeevil!