Superman: Son of Kal-El #4 review

This month, as the cover shows, someone drops in unannounced on Jonathan and Martha Kent.

Then, visiting grandson Jon gets through to new pal Jay.

The Justice League prove pretty pitiable as guardians of the cornfield.

The Kents define ‘sanguine’.

And Wally West lends a super-speed shoulder.

Or to put it another way, Jon has rather annoyed President Henry Bendix of the island of Gamorra, and he’s delivering a message. Said message comes in the form of a young woman Jon recently rescued, a victim Bendix has made into an unwilling bomb. Super-speed and endurance allows Jon to save his grandparents and the girl, while a surprise metahuman ability keeps Jay from harm. Queen Hippolyta, currently the League’s resident Wonder Woman, promises to keep the young girl safe.

Writer Tom Taylor really knows how to grab the attention, delivering an action-packed script for guest artist Daniele Di Nicuolo to draw. But there are emotional explosions too, as Jon mourns the loss of his ‘fortress’, the place he felt safe, and admits that while Bendix chose to attack, his father supplied the target.

The real surprise is that someone didn’t strike sooner. I was sure Superman would have a Brainac 5 forcefield or something to keep his parents safe, but it turns out he didn’t. I’m impressed that Jon doesn’t show more anger at his currently absent father, whose decision to reveal his secret ID went against a lifetime of instinct and experience. It’s incredibly sad when Pa Kent tells Jon they have their most beloved items in storage these days…

Rather than keep us waiting, Taylor immediately explains why Jay has phasing (?) powers, as he brings in a couple of surprise heroes.

Well that’s a turn-up for the books. The Aerie and Wink from the seriously superb Suicide Squad maxi-series Taylor created with artist Bruno Redondo. If you’ve not read it, all you need to know here is that the newcomers are members of a radical super group, the Revolutionaries. Jay being involved with them makes sense, and suddenly I trust the kid.

Then again…

A plan? Why not just ask Jon to join, Jay sounds rather manipulative. Could said plan involve a certain romance that was blasted across the media last week?

We’ll find out in time, right now I’m just delighted to see lots of superheroic fun here and not a single protest march. Jon does stand up for his ideals, but in a Golden Age Superman way rather than by playing Greta Thunberg in a cape.

And it’s all very nicely drawn by Di Nicuolo, whose art is similar enough to that of regular guy John Timms here that if I hadn’t seen the credits, I’d likely not have known (whoever added the cover details apparently didn’t). I especially like pages two and three, where angled panels and shifting perspectives add excitement even as the frozen figure of Jay tells us Jon is in super-speed time. And there are some great facial expressions throughout – sadness, determination, relief, grief, melancholy, anger, caution and so much more. Once Di Nicuolo finishes up with Taylor on their Seven Secrets project at Boom, I hope the former finds a regular berth at DC.

The colouring is nifty too, shared between Gabe Eltaeb and Hi-Fi. Something tells me Hi-Fi could soon have the regular assignment… Letterer Dave Sharpe gets points for not using Valhalla Font (or whatever it’s called) for Hippolyta. There’s just no need!

Timms draws and colours the cover and I like the bold simplicity of the image a lot.

The big takeout for Jon from this issue is that actions have consequences. His dad opened the door to danger for his loved ones, but it’s Jon’s enemy who strikes. If he’s going to continue pushing the buttons of powerful people, he needs a plan. One thing I hope he knows is that said plan should be his own, not part of someone else’s agenda – I like the Revolutionaries a lot, but I don’t want them using Jon without his full knowledge and agreement.

A lot of people will soon be trying this series due to all the publicity for next issue, but they’re missing some very good stuff right now.

6 thoughts on “Superman: Son of Kal-El #4 review

  1. Man, I cannot recall Tom Taylor writing anything I didn’t enjoy. He really is a winner for DC (tho I confess I haven’t read much of his Marvel work). And what can you say about Gabe Eltaeb…sheesh.

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  2. I didn’t love the art, and have never cared for grown-up Jon, and don’t like Jay particularly, but still like Taylor and expect he’ll come through with nice surprises. This time, the good surprise was The Aerie and Wink. Taylor already re-used them at least once since Suicide Squad, in DCeased: Hope at World’s End. An Elseworld to be sure, but it was great to see them show up, and I hope to see more of those characters, who made a good impression on me. Whatever happened to Chaos Kitten, anyway? Was she more than a pretty face in a hat that read “Nope”? Something tells me no one remembers her.

    Perhaps if Jay is associated with them, he’s to be trusted, and given what we know is going to develop between him and Jon, it would be awful if the romance was really messed up. Well, maybe not awful – maybe it would just be real. It happens, and Jon is as naive as they come.

    After all, Matrix was duped by Lex Luthor for a year. Buzz had a fatal influence on Linda Danvers.(Those are the only examples I can think of at the moment.)

    Clark’s identity reveal will continue to pay negative dividends. The only thing that makes less sense than masked vigilantes is unmasked ones. THE WHOLE POINT of secret identities is to protect loved ones! Who are clearly now in constant danger. What a mess.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was also chuffed to see The Aerie and Wink in DCeased, I hope Taylor gives us more of the Revolutionaries… heck, they might have done instead of the new Authority as Superman’s naughty squad. I just don’t trust Jay! He’s probably Bendis’s kid.

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  3. I wish I trusted Jay, but I don’t yet. But his association with Aerie and Wink is certainly a point in his favor.

    The art change this issue wasn’t as seamless for me as it was for you — it was fine, but I’m definitely looking forward to the return of Timms next issue.

    I’m curious where this is all going (aside from the obvious, well-publicized bit). I like the idea of Jon wanting to make genuine change in the world, and I’m interested in the lessons he’ll learn along the way. And it’s nice to see him building up alternative mentors while his dad is gone — Nightwing a few issues ago, Wally here. As careful of a planner as Taylor is, I can see them playing a part down the line.

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    1. Great point about the mentors. I just wish we could see Kara as one.

      I do like Timms’ art, but this issue the art was consistent whereas Timms gives us the odd squiffy page (see last issue’s review).

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