Challenge of the Super Sons #1 review

Have you ever not bothered asking for something for Christmas because you thought there was no chance of getting it? With Jon Kent now a late teenager and off in the 31st century in the Legion of Super-Heroes series, and Damian Wayne more of a loose cannon than ever over in Teen Titans, I thought a Super Sons series gone for good.

But a couple of weeks ago DC announced a Digital First run for the sons of Superman and Batman, written by co-creator Peter Tomasi.

And it’s like the Superboy and Robin team have never been away. Challenge is set just days after the events of their last print series, Adventures of the Super Sons, and like that top tale, this 14-chapter story kicks off with a framing sequence. We’re once again in the ‘far future’ with senior citizens Damian and Jon bickering like the Super Odd Couple they are. Their grandkids, meanwhile, want some bedtime reading.

The Super Sons book, Doom Scroll, opens with the boys at school on a typical day.

Later, they prepare to patrol Metropolis.

And so begins what promises to be a huge treat – the Dysfunctional Duo haven’t lost any of their magic, with Tomasi’s witty, warm script well served by the energetic art of Max Raynor and colourist Luis Guerrero. Raynor, who has just finished an arc on the Batman/Superman series, captures the exuberance and humour of Damian and Jon’s world, while Guerrero ensures they pop against the Metropolis streets. The talents of letterer Rob Leigh are also on display. Kudos to editors Paul Kaminski and Dave Wielgosz for putting an excellent creative team together.

I’m guessing Raynor has noticed that DC Digital First books don’t get unique covers – a moment from inside is always adapted, usually to uninspiring effect. So Raynor provides a page that’s oven ready so far as cover use goes… but it’s not needed, as original series artist Jorge Jimenez drops by with his take. Oh well, so we get two great splashes.

By this first instalment’s end a mysterious figure has set out the call to adventure, but it’s not like an actual threat is needed to make the Super Sons great comic book reading – the boys are fantastic company whether on or off the battlefield.

With a name like Challenge of the Super Sons, though, echoing the classic Challenge of the Super Friends cartoon, I expect this is a story that’s going to build and build. And with that packed bookshelf in the framing sequence, if readers buy this 79p/99c series in droves, those future kids might get more fine bedtime reading. Maybe we’ll even see the older Jon and Damian in Adventures of the Super Seniors. I’d buy that for (just under) a dollar.

9 thoughts on “Challenge of the Super Sons #1 review

  1. This was nice, picking right back up, and Tomasi has the perfect touch for this. I really like Max Raynor’s art on Wonder Woman – a book plagued by a never-ending parade of fill-in artists, but he was one of the good ones. He changes up here for a more cartoony style, which works.

    I know you’ll be interested in the newly announced “Sensational Wonder Woman” digital series which will be picking up straight away off Agents of Peace. Every 2 issues will then be collated and released to print a month later, like so many true digital “firsts” of the past.

    But what is interesting is that DC marketing “came clean” about it. I’m not going to try to post a real URL here since that has failed in the past, but this can be reconstituted into a real link:

    gamesradar . com / dc-launches-new-digital-first-sensational-wonder-woman-series-that-will-also-be-made-available-in-print/

    The article quotes DC:

    “reader-friendly, high action series” promises to tell “dynamic, standalone stories that are free of continuity, giving hardcore fans even more Wonder Woman action to love and new fans a fun starting point to enjoy stories and provide a gateway to discovering more about Princess Diana.”

    I wonder how they define “hardcore” fans.

    This opens up the whole issue of the difference between “everything matters, all the continuities happened” (and you get something fun out of it like Young Justice) vs., essentially, “nothing matters” beyond the basic classic takes on the well-known characters, the things everyone knows. That Wonder Woman is an Amazon; that Superman came from Krypton; etc.

    I think this Challenge book is in Rebirth continuity – untold tales from before Jon was aged up.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I saw the Sensational announcement and it sounds promising – I’m not sure where it differs from Agent of Peace… will it be in the half-page format? I like what we have already! This week’s Dan Abnett/Tom Dereneck story shows what can be done in just 16 pages.

      I am probably a hardcore Wonder Woman fan, having been reading since the early Seventies. But I never moan at new directions. As if!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve been surprised the slate of digital firsts that started in the spring weren’t in the half-page format that is ideal for digital reading. Sure, the ones that were reprints of Giants, and then the new material that was produced for Giants that were never printed, were designed for print, but eventually they must have run out of material and needed more stories, when gaps formed in the schedule. But who knows how much inventory they had? These short stories can probably always find a home, as a backup or holiday story perhaps.

        Maybe DC decided to keep the original format for the suite of titles to make it easier for them to repackage as collections later. A production or workflow issue, but also a matter of art style – there would be the perhaps obvious and abrupt elimination of vertical splash pages, not to mention double-splashes, and the more elaborate panel choices that cross the page center.

        Oh I’m thinking too much about this. I am curious, but it’s the sort of inside baseball DC rarely shares. (Is there “inside cricket?”)

        I do think this one will be fortnightly, 12 to 14 installments.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s nice but I dread it being the super long one story the last was. By the end of that I was begging for it to end. I want breezy shorts like the original series…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks TN, fortnightly makes sense if they’re repackaging it as one print issue each month. I do like the regular comic-shaped issue’s best, though, each offering seems more finished, which, of course, they are – compared DCeased: Hope at World’s End, to Dead Planet.

    I don’t follow any sports, but I imagine there’s Inside Cricket!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Injustice Year Zero, and DCeased Hope at World’s End, are both fortnightly. They were appearing on alternating weeks. But neither are being printed – at least, no announcement yet.

      10 pages (20 digital pages) twice a month adds up to the art pages for a monthly, which is the output you can expect from a team of artists, and I think it is best for one team to produce 2 chapters that will look good together. More frequent publication would need different artists for each chapter, which works fine for anthologies.

      If printed, the digital format does indeed look both limited and dull vs. standard comic format.

      Liked by 1 person

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