Super Sons #6 (September, 2017)
“Planet of the Capes, Part 1: teen beat”
Writer – Peter J. Tomasi
Artist – Jorge Jimenez
Colorist – Alejandro Sanchez
Letterer – Rob Leigh
Editors – Paul Kaminski & Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $3.99
I talked a lot of guff about the Rebirth-era Teen Titans yesterday… claiming that Super Sons was everything that comic ought to be. Well, if we go back a few months we can prove (or disprove) that sentiment. Let’s see the Super Sons take on the Teen Titans.
Was I right yesterday, or simply talking out my backside? Let’s find out!
We open with a brief introduction to an old (and arthritic) sculptor. He promises that his life’s work will never be forgotten. From here, we shift to Metropolis where Jon Kent is getting ready to go out on the town as Superboy. Feels weird to see Lois and Clark totally okay with this… feels like just a few months ago he was like five years old. Anyhoo, Lois packs his lunch and he heads outside to meet up with his pal Damian.
Robin seems to have some different ideas about the purpose of the evening… he’s looking at it as having to train Superboy, while Jon just sees it as a night out to help people in need. Their approaches to do-goodering are pretty different. We get a bit where Damian bites the head off a jaywalker… which leads to a Super lecture, in which Jonathan really sounds like his dad! From here, Superboy saves a cat… and Robin changes a tire. Normal everyday do-goodery stuff. Gotta say, Damian looks adorable changing a tire.
The boys head off to relax, and Damian makes a phone call. He’s trying to get a hold of his team… but they appear to be ignoring his calls. Suddenly a bright green cat approaches, which really freaks Jon out. It’s obviously Beast Boy… the Teen Titans have arrived!
Turns out they were out looking for Damian anyway. Something’s afoot and they need his help. He immediately goes into “field commander” mode, dispensing orders and going over strategy. He sends Superboy home since this is “Titans Business”… and ya see, Jon’s only 10. Damian sure is a stickler for semantics, ain’t he?
Jon leaps and bounds back home, and arrives one minute before curfew. Lois is getting ready to head out on some Daily Planet business, and Clark is out with the Justice League. Jon plops down in front of the TV.
Back with the Titans, they are following the aura of an energy surge. They track it to a crummy part of town… and they find themselves attacked…
… and very easily taken out. When Damian’s the last Titan standing, we meet our big-bad… the Time Commander. Robin hurls a ‘rang in his direction, but the baddie stops it in mid-air. He then wriggles his fingers at the Boy Wonder…
We wrap up back at the Kent-house, where Jon is awakened by a sorta familiar voice. He heads to the balcony where he finds… Old Man Robin?!
I think this is the first time I’ve read a story featuring the Rebirth-Teen Titans and haven’t wanted to hurl a brick through my… er, comic book.
The characters all felt natural… not the “cranked to eleven” versions we get in their home title. Like here, Gar’s a wiseacre…but not to the point where I actually want a villain to smash him into a green puddle. Jackson is tentative… as the “new guy”, that’s totally understandable… but he’s still shown to be ready for action. Over in Teen Titans, his only character trait is that he’s “the new guy”.
Starfire and Raven do like they normally do… and don’t get a whole lot of panel time. I was wondering why they’re even a part of the team before I remembered the Teen Titans have a cartoon where they are prominently featured… then again, Cyborg’s on that team too… so, what do I know?
Brief tangent… when we arrived at our hotel in Pennsylvania this past weekend, when I turned on the TV, Teen Titans Go! was on. I stayed there for a couple of minutes… remembering the Titans toon from the early 2000’s. Only caught it on occasion, but I recall it being pretty good. Pretty loose adaptations of classic Teen Titans tales, but inoffensive… and had a really good voice cast. I assumed that this would be more of the same (albeit with a somewhat different art style)… boy howdy, was I wrong. This felt as though someone was shown the most annoying 10 second anime clip and was then asked to replicate it using the Teen Titans. I feel bad harshing on a kids cartoon… but, I gotta say… I’m happy I wasn’t a kid during this constant “lol random” take on comedy.
Back to the book…
This was probably the best Teen Titans story I’ve read in some time. Sure it wasn’t completely focused on them… but the bits in which they appear didn’t annoy me… and sometimes, that’s all you can ask for. I think what bugs me the most about the actual Teen Titans book is that there’s so much potential there. Some great classic characters… some interesting newbies… but nothing ever happens! The characters constantly bicker in that snarky passive-aggressive Millennial way… and every storyline has to do with them adding… or removing a team member. Just when you think we’re about to actually go somewhere, the next-issue blurb informs us that “Next: The Return of Kid Flash (again)” or some similar nonsense.
This issue of Super Sons actually worked as a Titans story because… the Titans actually went on an adventure that had nothing to do with messing with their roster! We don’t have to worry about Damian firing someone… or someone returning from a five-second hiatus. This is just an adventure… and it’s so much better off for it.
I think Jon should eventually join the Teen Titans… even though I’d be scared that they’d cancel this book if that were ever the case. Jon seems like he could be that character to finally give the Titans a “heart”. This was never a problem during the Wolfman days… all of the characters were likable and felt like they belonged. Now, none of them do. Now, they need a heart… and that might just be a job for Superboy.
Overall, I was quite pleased with this issue. Jon and Damian’s relationship is a lot of fun… they feel like real kids. Timeless kids. Regardless of fads in technology and social engagement, their relationship feels genuine. Their back-and-forth doesn’t feel like anything the people of the future will cringe over, and be like “Did we really talk like that?”. Also, the art… is really really good. It feels like there’s definitely a manga influence in Jimenez’s work… but it’s still grounded in western comic art. It’s a really awesome meshing of styles, I really enjoyed it!
So, if you’re like me… a long-time Titans fan who hates the fact that they don’t make books like that anymore… give this one a try! I think you’ll be happy that you did.