Friday, April 7, 2023

Review: Adventures of Superman Jon Kent #2

Adventures of Superman Jon Kent #2 came out this week and I was a bit of two minds about it. There are parts I like but the overall feeling when I was done reading it was sort of lackluster.

Part of that feeling is that I am struggling with the Jon Kent character a bit. I loved his introduction in Convergence. I loved the Super Sons. I loved seeing Clark and Lois being parents, giving their versions of wisdom like Ma and Pa gave Clark back in Smallville. There was an energy there, a vitamin shot to the Superman family. 

And then he was aged. Aged up through trauma. Sent to the Legion where the book never really took off. Came back to Earth and replaced Superman. Was put in an overly simplified, overtly political book where he felt like a guest star in his own title, observing the action around him without joining in. 

I knew who young Jon Kent was, tromping around the farm and sparring with Damian. 

I don't feel I know who this Jon is anymore.

I had hoped this mini-series might solidify that a bit. We were told he would finally confront Ultraman and we would get some resolution to that part of his life, a very important and very personal part his history. And yet, even then, I feel we were denied that moment in this very issue.

Tom Taylor is able to bring us some nice character moments in this book. He writes a solid Lois. But given the events of this issue, I now don't know where this mini-series is going.

It is a shame because Clayton Henry has the chops to bring us some good super-hero action. His characters are fluid and powerful. The poses are iconic. The action has movement and flow. This thing looks gorgeous.

We still have a ways to go. And maybe this will be the book I am looking for in the end. But right now, this just isn't grabbing me.

On to the details. 

We start with a flashback of the battered, sad Jon stuck in that volcano and Ultraman giddy in his torture.

One thing I was glad regarding the 'aging' of Jon was that he was able to overcome this period of his life and remains positive and mentally healthy. He was tortured ... FOR YEARS ... by an analog of his father. And yet, he was able to move past and probably channel it into a positive. (If only people could give Kara the same capability!)

That said, I don't think it should be swept under the rug either. It is part of his history. We have seen in Action Comics how he is starting to realize the time he lost with his parents. Here we see the memories are still vivid. 

So when the concept of this mini-series was revealed and when I read the first issue, I was glad we would see more of this and see some closure.

Last issue we learned that Val-Zod and Red (Lois Lane) Tornado are tracking Ultraman as the villain goes through the universes killing Superman. Ultraman somehow is juiced against Superman and so they hope that Jon can stop the rampage. 

I loved this moment where the two Loises talk. Red Tornado promising to look after Jon like her own was brilliant. It is this sort of character moment where Taylor shines.

Jon still has to say his own goodbyes.

Remember, this loss of Jon's past has impacted his parents too. I do like how Lois talks about letting him go here feels similar to when they let him leave with Jor-El (still a wrong decision in my mind). 

She slips him a note. Let the speculation begin. What does it say? Something supportive? "I believe in you"? Or something tactical, a summoning spell or something.

And Jon has to say goodbye to Jay as well. It is another nice moment with Jay making Jon promises he will come back home. 

The heroes blip to the latest Earth Ultraman has gone too. Jon brings the mandatory Deus Ex Machina ... I mean the Phantom Zone Projector ... with them. 

Taylor drops this nugget in there. In all but one other universe, Jon is still young. Is that some sort of meta-comment that maybe he shouldn't have been aged? 

But as I was seeing these three fly here, armed with a Phantom Zone Projector, I had to wonder. Why not recruit a phalanx of Green Lanterns to go instead of one Jon? It is why you can't think too much in comics.

Sure enough, Ultraman arrives. He rips Red Tornado in half and blasts Val and Reddy with the projector, sending them away. So much for that plan. 

Ultraman recognizes Jon as the kid he tortured and it is on. 

Once again the electric blue lightning power manifests.

Everyone mark the date and time. Jon throws a punch in a Tom Taylor comic!!

Great page by Henry. You feel it.

Followed by another great page by Henry showing the battle continue. That second panel is wonderful. Love the energy bristling off Jon. 

So here I thought we would get come closure.

Jon lambasts Ultraman for his love of power and lack of compassion. I was really hoping for a win here.

But the electric bursts only hurt Ultraman without taking him out. And, I suppose akin to a solar flare, Jon is pretty drained by this electric attack.

But then we get this moment. 

This is the Injustice Earth. And this Superman snaps the neck of Ultraman. 

And I did not like this moment at all.

Jon doesn't get to have the closure. This is taken from him. 

Ultraman was supposed to be overly powered against Supermen in general. It is how he has killed so many. But I guess that doesn't happen here.

And does anyone actually think Ultraman is going to stay dead? Or are we going to see him in 18 months with this moment forgotten?

This is supposed to be a ka-pow moment. Instead it sort of deflated me. I wanted to see Jon deal with Ultraman. 

Will Jon stay on this Earth? Rescue his friends from the Zone (the machine was destroyed)? Have to deal with another flawed version of his dad? 

But most importantly, will I care?

I sound more down about this than I am. The character moments really do shine. 

Overall grade: C+

1 comment:

Martin Gray said...

I like this issue more than your good self, Anj. I’ve gone on and on about the stupidity of having Jon grow up, but this is what we have and if I’m buying his comic, I have to park that and hope we get more flashback Super Son stories. For now, I’m enjoying this series much more than the last one. The mix of characters is much more interesting and Joni’s growing a little - as you noted, Jon even throws a punch… the significance never hit me, no pun intended. Mind, if you can’t hit Ultraman…

I love that Lois says ‘Last time you went away, we lost years with you’, ignoring the fact she got in Jor-El’s ship too!

I think someone else killing Ultraman is the only way Jon could get closure, he couldn’t kill him - look at what executing the Phantom Zone villains did to his father. And I guess Ultraman’s Superman-weakening tech doesn’t work if it isn’t specifically trained upon them. The Injustice Superman, so changed from the classic, seems the perfect candidate to get rid of the Earth 3 villain. And who knows, this could well be the turning point that puts back Injustice Superman back on the path of righteousness… Okay, it makes the death of Ultraman less part of Jon’s story, but in the bigger Tom Taylorverse, it works.