Friday, November 11, 2022

Review: Superman Son Of Kal-El #17

Superman Son Of Kal-El #17 came out this week. This is a title that is ending next month, switching to a mini-series called Adventures of Superman.

This is also the 4th part of the Kal-El Returns arc, reuniting the senior Superman with his family and the world at large.

One thing about this title is that writer Tom Taylor has made it low on action and high on civics. This is a book that has felt to be more of a Jay Nakamura book with Jon as a guest star than a break-out title for a new Superman. And it has focused more on Jon's sexual identity than his super-heroics. 

I understand full well that Jon coming out as bisexual and being with Jay has been lauded as a breakthrough. But I was hoping that this would be a book where the spotlight would be on Jon's emergence as a superhero, his filling the mantle of the title Superman. But instead that has barely been touched on. 

This issue has Jon coming out to his father. Now I am not saying that this isn't an important topic or discussion. But this title now feels like an 18 month 'coming out' story and not a super-hero book. I am not bemoaning Jon being bi. I am not saying that this shouldn't be. I am saying that I wanted more out of this book and this focus on Jon's sexual orientation has just meant other stories haven't been told.

Here I also take a little exception with Taylor's story in that Jon thinks that his father ... SUPERMAN ... would somehow shun him or disown him for being bi. Superman! I know this might be a metaphor for other children struggling with parents who don't accept them. But don't put Superman in those shoes.

Cian Tormey has settled in nicely in this book. His style fits the tone here.

On to the book.

Superman is back. 

Time for some fun and games.

Jon and Clark race off to another planet just like old times. 

And Jon wins. 

Is Jon more powerful than Clark? 

Clark asks if there is anything else Jon wants to talk about.

But before Jon can talk about Jay, he clams up and runs.

Even Clark is confused. What could Jon not want to talk about? What could be that frightening?

Back in Smallville, the Kents are trying to rebuild the farm.

Clark knows about Jay of course. But why would Jon hide this? Clark wants Jon to be happy.

And here is the not so veiled message. Some fathers don't accept their kids happiness. 

Maybe the better story is Jon tells Clark and everything is well and then they can say 'not everyone is so lucky'. 

But to have Jon doubt Clark? That feels off.

In Metropolis, a young man fires up a 'Red Sin' uniform which seems to be unstable. It explodes requiring Jon to fly in and save the day.

Jon meets the Red Sin ... who is probably powered by a red sun. Because his powers drop Jon. 

Will this storyline continue into Adventures? Or wrap up here?

Recuperating in the hospital, Jon confesses he was worried that Clark would disapprove or be disappointed.

He was worried about Superman being phobic of his orientation.

Now, you can say that in real life lots of people going through this self-discovery have this fear. That this is a way to tell that story. And yes, that is a story that should be told.

But not here with these characters. 

This is someone bolting a story they want to tell onto characters where it doesn't fit. Welcome to the world of comics in 2022.

So Superman ... SUPERMAN ... has to explain why he would never judge Jon. 

Of course, he knows what it is like to hide his true self. He hid his true self for a long time.

Now that is a nice way to show empathy or understanding. But instead we have to have Superman say his life isn't at all the same. So Superman can't be empathetic.

Too bad. There could have been more dialogue here, some wisdom. 

Of course Superman accepts who Jon is. 

Jon should know that. 

And funny we didn't get this worry about Jon coming out to his friends or Lois. This is a story where Superman is the person Jon is most worried will be judgmental. 

To me that makes no sense.

Overall grade: C-


Anonymous said...

The art is pretty seamless - I don't know where Tormey's art ends and RuarĂ­ Coleman's begins. (I wish DC showed page numbers - they still do, sometimes. It's inconsistent.)

Looking to the future, from the title alone, it suggests the mini-series will actually focus on ADVENTURES of Superman, and, if it takes place mostly on Earth-3, that could be a lot of fun. I guess it depends on whether Jay comes along on the trip.


Martin Gray said...

Great review. I’ll cut Taylor/Jon a bit of slack on the coming out to Clark business - it took me years to work up to coming out to my parents. They were such good people, and the idea of them rejecting me was ridiculous. But it was still very, very scary.