‘The boys are back in town’ proclaims Dan Mora’s scrappily energetic cover, and DC isn’t kidding. Damian Wayne and Jon Kent return to publication after the editorially driven cancellation of their regular series and are more fun than ever. From the slightly meta opening…
… to the electrifying final page, writer Peter J Tomasi and artists Carlo Barberi and Art Thibert produce a massively entertaining tale. Jon’s brought the popcorn to Metropolis’ Centennial Park, the better to enjoy the stupidly over-confident Robin taking on a suddenly animated Superman statue single-handedly.
Jon’s happy to help, and when they do team up, matters are sorted pretty quickly. While Jon takes on the massive monument, Damian deduces where its controller is hiding.
It’s one of Green Lantern Hal Jordan’s earliest foes, the Puppeteer (formerly the Puppet Master, but he got Captain Marvelled).
Later, at school, it’s the best day of the year.
Passing on a pool party, the boys set to fixing their recently wrecked headquarters.
They’re soon called back to Metropolis, where a tonsorially challenged teenager messing up a mall turns out not to be alone.
Now that’s a fun-looking new bunch of baddies, and timely too, considering the Justice League is currently facing a new Legion of Doom. Mind, this story isn’t happening in the current DC Universe, it’s taking place a while back, Damian and Jon team-ups being off limits while Brian Bendis is telling his first stories in Superman and Action Comics. Which is annoying, as the Super-Sons title has been among the most consistently entertaining books from DC in the last few years. I do hope this 12-Issue maxi-series isn’t their last hurrah.
If it is, well, they’re at least receiving a great send-off if this first issue is indicative of what we’re getting over the next year. Tomasi remembers that the boys’ banter is all part of the burgeoning friendship, so the teasing is mutual and never mean. The new villains have visual promise, and thankfully there’s no attempt to convince us that The Gang’s members are previously unseen offspring of DC’s biggest baddies.
I love the bit about Bruce Wayne having his own company to handle superhero HQ repairs – it keeps things discreet. The title of the story, Action Detectives (wonderfully lettered by Rob Leigh), is a cute nod to the Super Sons’ beginnings. The name of the statue’s sculptor is a neat reference to a rather famous Superman story. And the use of the Puppeteer becomes extra intriguing given the mention he got in last week’s Doomsday Clock… OK, I don’t actually believe there’s been coordination between Super Sons editor Paul Kaminski and Doomsday Clock opposite number Brian Cunningham, but it makes for interesting head canon.
Carlo Barberi is one of the better pencillers when it comes to young characters and his work is as strong here as expected, full of kinetic layouts and cute character beats. He makes the Gang just the right side of Cute – they don’t quite look like they’re after Hallowe’en candy, but they’re not far off. It’s nice that the mini-monsters aren’t all super-healthy looking – every kid gang has to have a wee lad with puppy fat. Inker Art Thibert adds his own touch to ensure the art is rock solid. And a tip of the blogging hat to peculiarly named colourist Protobunker, for a very pleasant job.
The variant cover by original series artist Jorge Jimenez is typically attractive – I like how he’s incorporated a daytime motif for Jon into Damian’s night background – though it’s a shame he apparently never knew DC was going to start leaving logos off the alternate images. Still, it’s very trade-worthy, so maybe we’ll see it as intended yet. Great colours by Alejandro Sanchez, too.
If you even vaguely fancy this comic, just buy it, it’s summer fun the way I like it… and lots of sales might convince DC to bring back the book indefinitely.