Superman (vol.4) #1 (August, 2016)
“Son of Superman, Part One”
Writer – Peter J. Tomasi
Penciller – Patrick Gleason
Inker – Mick Gray
Colorist – John Kalisz
Letterer – Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor – Andrew Marino
Group Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.99
Okay, seems I’ve found the “right” Rebirth this time… let’s see how everything old becomes new again as the post-Crisis/pre-Flashpoint Man of Steel reclaims his colors!
With this being a newer book, the synopsis will be far less in depth… don’t wanna completely ruin the experience…
We open with the… if you’ll pardon the editorializing… real Superman standing at the grave of the fallen New-52 Man of Steel. He’s thinking over recent events, and is trying to make sense of it all. He ultimately decides that he will reclaim the mantle of Superman.
The Smiths… formerly Whites… formerly (and really) Kents (or Lane-Kents?) have themselves a farm upstate from Metropolis. Their young son Jonathan watches his father attend to the laborious farm chores with ease… and appears to be rather in awe. They share a discussion about chores… and Clark makes Jon promise not to use his burgeoning powers when he’s not around… or to take the easy way out of hard work.
Jonathan’s cat Goldie spies a mouse, and beelines after it. Jon playfully gives chase, until a large bird of prey swoops down and scoops up the little feline. Jon loses his cool, and lets out a tremendous blast of heat vision in the direction of the bird… barbecuing it… and his cat in the process. We see a young blonde girl in the distance, who seems to have witnessed the entire event.
Later, the Smiths share a family dinner… when that same blonde girl should knock on their door. She introduces herself as Kathy Branden from the neighbor farm… and my Lana Lang senses are tingling. She comes bearing gifts of fresh milk, and li’l Jon is pretty tongue-tied the whole time she’s there. Whether he’s got himself a crush… or he recognizes her from the field, I dunno. Maybe both?
Once Kathy leaves, Clark and Jonathan get into an argument over the importance of secret identities. Jon calls it an excuse to lie… and Clark ain’t hearing it. He sends his son to his room. Never thought I’d see Superman grounding his son… maybe in an “imaginary story”, but never the real-steel-deal. This is fun (and different) stuff.
Later that night, Jonathan is looking out his bedroom window… and sees his father, in full Superman attire having a meeting on their lawn… with Batman and Wonder Woman. There is one panel here, where the heroes realize that Jon is listening in… and it’s terrifying. They all (his dad included) glare up at him. Masterfully crafted by Gleason… as this can be taken as just Jon’s interpretation of the scene, rather than what actually occurred. Like, why would the Trinity try and scare a young boy? Jon, however, could easily be scared by them… without them even trying.
Jon scrambles away from his window, knocking over a lamp… he sits in his darkened room, until his door swings open. What he sees is Superman… who says he’s “coming with” him…
I’m not gonna lie… when I started reading this one, I began getting flashbacks to the “resumed” era of Flash (volume 2) where Wally becomes the Flash post-Infinite Crisis… and has his twin children as sidekicks. I really didn’t enjoy that… those kids annoyed me in just about every panel they were in. I didn’t so much mind that Wally was a dad… it’s just those kids… ugh.
Where this series differs from that is Jonathan isn’t annoying… and he actually seems like a real kid. Like, check out the scene when Kathy shows up at dinner… the way he’s wriggling uncomfortably in his clothes… that’s perfect! His frustration(s) over having to keep secrets feels genuine as well. I will say that I was expecting/hoping for a Superman adventure here… but, seeing my Superman back in any form or fashion is enough for me. That having been said, it’s pretty difficult for me to give an unbiased review here.
I’m hopeful that the Jonathan stuff will not overtake this title for the foreseeable future… and will hopefully just branch into the upcoming Super Sons title (and heck, maybe even into the next incarnation of the Teen Titans)… and this title will primarily feature Superman doing super-things… like in Action Comics.
This book does a great many things right… it shows the father-son dynamic between Clark and Jonathan. It adds a supporting character, who may wind up being a friend or foil to Jon. It shows how Jon is processing all of the new information he’s been given over the past little while… just imagine waking up in the middle of the night and seeing your dad talking to Batman and Wonder Woman. That could be the most awesome… or most terrifying thing in the world, and this story captured that incredibly well!
Speaking of terrifying… man, did that Goldie scene really bug me! I mean, it definitely got the point across… and made total and complete sense, but… man, I hate seeing anything happen to somebody’s pet. Seeing the just… assault of emotions on Jonathan’s face really put the scene over though. Is he mad? Sad? Scared? Disappointed? All of the above??? Just a great (and awful) scene.
All told, I am very happy with the new status-quo on the Superman family of titles, and am hopeful that these books will march on with the high level of quality established in their opening chapters. Recommended for certain… if you’re been away from DC for awhile (like say, since the Fall of 2011, hmm…), it’s safe to come back… Welcome Home.