Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Review: Superman Son Of Kal-El #9

Superman Son of Kal-El #9 came out last week, the second part of a two-part crossover with Nightwing. It was simply incredible.

Writer Tom Taylor and artist Bruno Redondo are on both issues (the first part in Nightwing #89) and bring together this story which could be read as a standalone even though it is completely enmeshed in current storyline. It is a wonderful, heart-warming story showcasing the similarities between Jon Kent and Dick Grayson, both living in the shadow of the legacy hero they emulate and trying to forge out on their own.

For me, in particular, the characterization of Dick, who has basically shed the sidekick role and has become his own fully formed hero but also someone who still feels Imposter Syndrome when comparing himself to Batman, was fantastic. But when Taylor finally recognized the elephant in the continuity room, that Jon was tortured for 6 years, I smiled. Thank you Tom Taylor.

We even get some good Lois moments and some plot advancement. 

Add to that Bruno Redondo's inventive art conveying action through multiple images and bringing feelings to the stories. The pages flow wonderfully. And several panels stick out as perfection.

I don't know what more you could ask for except for DC to put these two issues together in a little squarebound prestige format so it can sit on a shelf for easy reading. 

On to the issue!

I use these reviews to not only highlight key moments but great comic moments.

Remember when Brian Michael Bendis used to have someone say 'look up in the sky' in his Superman run?

I loved this scene. Here we are in Gotham. After The Rising killed 3 super-heroes, Oracle asked that folks go out on patrol in tandem. Nightwing decided to go it alone.

But how funny is the TONK! as this crook takes a billy club to the face. And if that wasn't enough, it goes through the O of TONK! Laughed out loud. 

I spoke about the action Redondo has been giving us in Nightwing. This page has 4 panels stacked like this where you follow Nightwing as he takes out some Luthor henchmen smuggling weapons. I love the multiple images that you can follow to see him take out these guys.

I also love the truck insignia. Something about them being moving guys and 'not illegal gun runners'. Hilarious!

Of course, Nightwing operating alone is a ruse to get the Rising to come out and attack, all while Superman has been following along.

Dick allows himself to be thrown off the building supposedly to his death. It leads to this great panel with Dick comfortable falling down, relaxed and laid back while Jon flies up into battle.

Great image, poster worthy.

But, of course, I have to wonder why The Rising would think throwing Nightwing off a building is a certain death. The dude jumps off buildings all the time. And one of the Rising shoots energy beams. Why not vaporize Nightwing?

Of course, if you shot him, you wouldn't get this image. So I suppose sometimes the plot and villain's intellects need to bend for drama.

More great art.

Love this splash page of the latest World's Finest team kicking butt together.

It becomes clear that these Rising agents are outmatched by our heroes. Two of them fly off into Lexcorp.

One remains but the Gamorran's decide to cut their losses and vaporize the guy from the inside.

Great coloring and art here that convey the fact that this guy is back in control of his own body right before he dies. 

Nothing left but the wrap up and this is where I think this issue really sings. 

Last issue, we found out that Dick is funding The Truth, the rebel news source being run by Jay Nakamura, Jon's new boyfriend.

The whole time I have been asking myself 'what would Lois and Clark think of this underground news source'?

I love that Dick realizes that The Truth need some experience. Someone like Lois. I doubt she'll leave the Planet. But maybe she can be a sounding board? I want Lois to be an active part in this book. 

And then Dick and Jon have a heart to heart as Jon again has to deal with his inability to save someone. Would Clark have saved him? How do you deal with the guilt? How do you stop questioning yourself?

These are all questions Jon should be asking himself as he steps into the mantle of Superman. He is still a newbie.

And then the obvious question to Dick. When he as Batman, did he think he earned it?

Here is that Imposter Syndrome panel. Man, if Dick feels that way, maybe it is okay that I feel that way sometimes in my own life! Maybe that idea of getting away from the shadow of the hero and becoming one of your own is how to navigate these issues.

I don't know how else to say it ... this whole scene just struck a chord, felt real, and felt earned by both ends. But it continues ...

And gets better.

Finally the trauma that Jon went through in the Mr. Oz/Ultraman story from 3 years ago now gets addressed. We see how it still weighs on Jon.

And we hear how he hoped Dick would show up with a lollipop like he did the time Jon got lost in part 1 of this story. 

You feel that weight here, just the way Jon's head is held low.

This has been a part of Jon's story that seemed swept under the rug. Six years of torture ... it has to have affected him. Now we see it has.

I just really like the idea of these two being good friends and colleagues.

In part one, I described Dick Grayson as the 'big brother' of the DCU. The idea of him mentoring Jon makes great sense.

I love this idea.

Maybe we can get an annual Jon/Dick crossover like in the old JLA/JSA days?

But then things get ugly with some fake news.

Footage of the Rising man exploding in Jon's arms has gone viral making it look like Superman killed the man. So it is time for real news to combat this.

Lois, Jay, and Dick will all help Jon get the truth out there. He isn't alone. 

The lollipop is a bit over the top. But it works.

Everything about this issue was a win, from the art to the action to the character beats. Everything.

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Top review of a top issue. The mention of the six years of hell was so welcome, if Taylor had that in mind as informing Jon’s character it makes sense that he’s more dour here than he has been in, say, the Legion, where Bendis ignored it. I wonder if being starved of affection for so long makes Jon more likely to trust pink-haired supervillains?

Anonymous said...

A really good issue, bringing some of that special Nightwing flavor to Jon's book.

Between this, and Nightwing, and Dark Knights of Steel, Tom Taylor is on a roll and shining. And he's announced that the final chapters of DCeased are coming - a series I like, even though I'm not usually into zombies. It's got a lot of heart and some great re-imaginings, which Taylor excels at.

I guess John Timms has left the team. The last issue he drew was #6, and he isn't listed in the solicits through #11 in May.


Anj said...

I don't think they will ever make Jay a villain ... EVEN THOUGH HE ACTS LIKE ONE!!

Hee hee hee

Steve said...

Jon's boyfriend reminds me of Psionic Lad from your reviews.

Martin Gray said...

That Adventure Comics Superboy run was just brilliant!