Superman: Son of Kal-El #2 review

That’s a striking cover from John Timms, I always like it when the Superman shield is incorporated into a design, and the upside down Metropolis cityscape screams “City of Tomorrow’. The globe is probably one element too many, though it’s relevant to the interior, while the lines behind Jon are just confusing… is it a surprint of fields, or lines that should have been erased?

Inside, Jon Kent is embracing his future. It’s his first day at Metropolis College and he has quite the surprising look.

Jon’s bid to establish a secret ID to give him some privacy is immediately kiboshed by one of the less friendly students.

Our hero leaps into action… and out of his clothes. And that terrible wig. His plans ruined and with all eyes on him, Jon leaves to do some thinking. And where better to find some space than the moon?

Well, that was the idea.

Earth has so many problems that don’t involve slugging super-villains… why doesn’t Superman tackle them, wonders Jon.

Superman gives his Super-son the keys to the car… well, symbolically. He hands over the key to his Arctic Fortress of Solitude, a new costume and the responsibility to protect Earth as Superman while he’s off on what could be a lengthy mission.

Later, alternate news website the Truth tells Jon of a boatful of refugees from an island called Gamorra, adrift in the North Atlantic. Jon reckons he knows just what to do

After an altercation with the police echoing last issue’s with the army, Jon is gently ambushed by a potential friend.

I swear Jon Kent was smarter when he was a tween, running around with Damian Wayne. OK, we don’t hear Jon’s thoughts, but it seems he’s buying Jay’s story. This stranger manages to sneak up on a guy with super senses. He just happens to have been beside Jon when a kid at school just happened to go postal. Either Jon is keeping his counsel because he’s not daft and is scoping out Jay, or he’s the most disappointing child two ace reporters could have. Future issues will tell.

I love how Tom Taylor writes Clark and Lois, he has their voices down pat – smart, knowing, funny. They worry about Jon but don’t keep him on a leash. Sadly, I’ve not warmed to this version of Jon yet, his earnestness and apparent naivety – he looks to be treating a website fronted by a kid in a sinister mask as gospel – seems wrong for a fella born into a family of heroes. Heck, he spent years as a fugitive on eeeeevil Earth 3, he should always be suspicious of kids bearing wigs. If Jay Nakamura isn’t in league with the baddie revealed on the last page – yet another Wildstorm type, right now they’re all over DC like nits – I’d be very surprised.

And while it’s great Jon acted quickly to save lives, I’d expect him to use a tad more guile in stopping Kyle. Could it be Jon’s heart just wasn’t in the experiment, so he welcomed the chance to blow it up? Jon only seems comfortable when he’s helping the public, in costume. The rest of the time he’s pretty darn mopey.

Really, I miss fun Jon. This young Superman is well-meaning, but needs to smile more. Golden Age Superman showed that you could fight for social justice while still leading with a quip and a grin.

But, this is Tom Taylor writing – he’s a very, very bright man, look how easily he subverted expectations on the secret ID front. It’s unlikely he’s going to make Jon a dope. He’s drawing us in…

I was surprised to see Superman show up. After his not being around last time I’d assumed he’d already buggered off to Warworld for awhile. It was good to see the handover talk.

Now, let’s wind back a moment, to the school not-massacre.

‘Politicise’ what? His choice of gun? Any ideas?

Bringing the script to life is the aforementioned John Timms, whose storytelling hits all Taylor’s beats. I like that he doesn’t draw Jon as a mini-Clark, he’s more lithe. The big action moments are terrific. And the new characters – as well as Jay and Kyle there’s the unnamed young woman, I’m sure she’ll be part of the regular cast – look good. I’m not sure what’s going on with all the hair dye, though – pink for Jay, green for Kyle and several other students. Perhaps colourist Gabe Eltaeb was feeling a little playful. As ever, Eltaeb does a cracking job, as does letterer Dave Sharpe.

I enjoyed this more than the first issue, and hope to enjoy next month’s edition even more. A bit less teen angst and more Superman Family optimism would go a good way towards making it happen.

12 thoughts on “Superman: Son of Kal-El #2 review

  1. Well, the ‘too soon to politicize this’ line is a direct call out of the infuriating tendency here in the States to refuse to discuss the prevalence of guns, gun violence, and school shootings because that would be ‘politicizing a tragedy.’ Every. Freaking. Time.
    I haven’t read the issue yet, but the only way Taylor could be less subtle on his feelings about this would be to have had the character say something about ‘thoughts and prayers.’

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s the ‘joke’. Asking the question is itself seen as politicizing it. Turn on Fox News or certain other media (or politicians) here after any shooting and they will almost always say that discussing things like ‘where did he get the gun’ politicizes a tragedy and its so so horrible to even ask that. And then adding something like ‘we all offer our thoughts and prayers’. That one line is basically Taylor’s version of this: https://www.theonion.com/no-way-to-prevent-this-says-only-nation-where-this-r-1819576527

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      2. I had the same reading as BostonDreams. The added non sequitur of it perhaps heightens the parody — a “thoughts and prayers” level comment FROM the gunman as he’s shooting being the next step in the cruel absurdity of U.S. politics. Your mileage may vary.

        I’m reminded of having recently seen a clip (never saw the film) of Christian Bale in American Psycho, in which his murderous behavior is juxtaposed with banal, mismatched dialogue for an effect that is arguably darkly comedic.

        Oh! Also, among the certain crazy wing that’s being ridiculed here, hyper-defensiveness, citing injury before experience, is common. The rhetorical equivalent of when football [soccer, my countrypersons] players who haven’t even been touched fall down on the grass and roll around like their leg has been cut off.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with everyone about the “political” matter.

    The question “Where did you get that?” is not a question anyone in the USA would ask, because everyone knows the answer is you can guns and ammunition JUST ABOUT ANYWHERE. Her first question – “What are you doing?” – is a good one to ask. Her second question is only there so that Taylor can write the response that it’s too soon to politicize it. (I agree with the point Taylor is making, but think it’s made in a heavy-handed and awkward way)

    But actually, Kyle probably would have opened fire before he got close enough to exchange these words.

    I missed it, but some people commenting elsewhere spotted it – the story actually DOES have a “thoughts and prayers” reference. The words are etched into the bullets Kyle is loading into his weapon! This is one hell of a cynical shooter.

    For those outside the US, you know whenever there is a mass shooting, half the political leadership go in front of microphones or on Twitter to offer their “thoughts and prayers” for the victims and their families. The other half always say “thoughts and prayers just aren’t good enough anymore” and bring up the need for gun reform. Then the first half say the second half are politicizing a tragedy to score political points.

    It’s political because gun ownership is enshrined in our Constitution. (What the ungrammatical Second Amendment written in 18th century English actually MEANS is a matter of never-ending debate.) In a more typical society, gun ownership would be regulated as needed just like any other product. But it’s quite difficult to amend the US Constitution.

    Apparently Jon is the only hero who can’t react in a crisis without giving up his secret identity. He’s hardly the first to be confronted by a crisis, and everyone else has always found a workaround! He needs a robot in a tree, or Professor Pepperwinkle’s memory-wiping aerosol.

    This “Truth” kid seems to have tracking, cloaking and teleportation abilities. There must be a lot more to him than meets the eye.

    People complained about Dan DiDio’s iron grip on things, but it’s interesting that with him gone and Jim Lee left as sole publisher, we’re having a Wildstorm invasion. But perhaps it has nothing to do with him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a fascinating discussion, thanks guys. Obviously, I know a little about the US and the gun control argument, but the ‘thoughts and prayers’ business is new to me… I’d spotted the words on the bullets but hadn’t made the connection.

      Please God this comic isn’t going to be a modern take on relevance, every storyline. Suddenly I just want to go on eBay and buy old issues of Superman Family.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m an urban dweller, and like the majority of such dwellers, liberal-to-progressive. But Taylor is wearying here. There is a large cohort of readers who are very much NOT Taylor fans, and I hope they aren’t all Comicsgate people. You don’t have to be Comicsgate to not like preaching, and to think a one-world government is not practical in any way shape or form.

        The world has been moving in the opposite direction for a long time. The British broke up the middle East randomly, leaving Iraq with both Sunni and Shia, held together by dictatorship (Saddam Hussein). Yugoslavia held together only through authoritarian rule, then broke apart with the Bosnian war and the Serbian atrocities. Turkey moved to the right. Brazil. Italy. Since Trump we’ve had a rise in nationalism, dropped out of treaties and accords, started trade wars, and argued with our NATO allies. And let’s not forget your very own Brexit. The only way a united world without borders can come about is not through human nature (which is apparently very tribal, even when the tribe is invented, given America is based on a creed, not a tribe) but through a level of authoritarian rule too terrifying to contemplate. Maybe if Germany and Japan had won WWII they’d have divided the world up between themselves.

        Maybe Taylor is not THAT naive – Jon so far has actually been a total jerk with his conflicts with the military and the police. He’s lawless and a menace. It may even be fair to finally say he’s more of a monster than DC seems to want Supergirl to be. Taylor may be leading us to a very, very bad Jon. I might rather read that, than read more of Jon’s stupid idealism.

        And, why is Clark just letting Jon get away with this stuff, and even encourage it? Jon needs some serious parenting!

        Just who did guide Jon through adolescence? Ultraman! Nice role model.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with TN and my review will be up soon to delineate my thoughts.

    To begin, I think this is an agenda book with Superman. Not a Superman book with an agenda.

    Next, I think about world problems a lot. A LOT. I turn to comics for escapism. This ain’t it. So I’m not saying comics shouldn’t be political. I am saying the need to be done well to be political. And I don’t think that is happening here. I don’t need to be preached at, not for entertainment and $5.

    And a lot of this seems superficial.

    It is very easy for Jon to bring the boat of refugees to Metropolis so they don’t drown. That’s the superhero part. But what happens next? That’s the hard part and I doubt we’ll see it. Jon not wanting them handcuffed is easy. But what if they needed to be swabbed for COVID? What if they needed to be housed in a facility until something could be found for them? And what if Jon disagreed with that.

    It becomes a slippery slope from ‘I am doing what is right’ to ‘I am imposing my will of what I think is right on people’. Then we are in Injustice territory.

    Why not return them to Gamorra and tell that government to shape up. Isn’t that truly what should happen? But we can’t have Jon invade and take over a country. Right?

    This is the problem of a truly political comic starring super-heroes. The only way to ‘solve’ the problem is to wrest control. If you don’t solve the problem, you seem ineffective. Or you just gloss over the problem and only show the most superficial aspect of it. Like bringing the boat to the port but not talking about ‘what next’ which is the real problem.

    And Jon asking Superman why he hasn’t done more knowing EVERYTHING Superman has done is lousy.
    Superman saying he is an alien so it couldn’t be him is lousy. He grew up here. He isn’t an alien.
    Superman putting the pressure on Jon is lousy. No parent should do that.

    I don’t know if I am long for this book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen to everything you say. I got sick of relevance stories in the Seventies and can do without a whole series centred on them. Like you, I’ve a job that – while a lot less important and far less intense – immerses me in real-world stuff, and it usually involved the worst of mankind. I want escapism in my entertainment, not lectures.

      Liked by 1 person

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