Superman: Son of Kal-El 2021 Annual #1 review

Superman is visiting Lex Luthor in prison after a recent sting operation by the Justice League has him awaiting trial. The Man of Steel foresees a problem getting his arch enemy into the courtroom.

Some time later, Superman has left Earth on a mission to liberate the prisoners of Warworld. In his absence, teen son Jon Kent is in charge of the Superman brand. One night, Uncle Batman drops by the apartment Jon shares with mom Lois.

En route to the Fortress of Solitude to play the message, Jon sees someone in need of help.

At ‘Fort Superman’, Jon finds himself talking to an interactive hologram.

Meanwhile, having got out of jail due to some clever legal wrangling, Lex is doing business with some of North America’s richest folk, in his inimitable style.

Lex gets a lot of money, while Jon and Lois get annoyed at one aspect of the new Lexcorp building.

And that’s when the Lexcorp sign is blasted by someone or something, forcing Jon to work alongside his father’s worst enemy to save lives. But the detente doesn’t last long, as Luthor finds out just what Jon is made of.

This is Jon’s best outing yet as Superman. Courtesy of writer Tom Taylor, his personality is more rounded than in his regular book. Rather than reacting to/being manipulated by others, he comes across as a confident solo operator, making his own decisions. He’s actually – whisper it – adorable at times.

OK, if Jon remembered he had freeze breath, he could probably help every polar bear in the world who finds themselves stranded on a melting iceberg, but still, he uses his brains this time. So well does he use his brains that he outwits Lex as he challenges him to help change the world for the better.

Of course, Jon is right. Lex could make the world a much better place… but Jon has just humiliated Lex. Reason can’t triumph when it’s blocked by Ego. And that’s something Lex has bags of.

As well as Jon’s formidable mind, we see a bit of that playful personality he had as a Super-Son, and for that I thank Taylor, who’s just announced that he’s gone exclusive with DC.

And it’s terrific to see Batman call in on Lois and Jon, though why Clark didn’t simply give the crystal to his actual wife rather than his work wife, I have no idea.

As for Lex’s get-richer-quick scheme, it’s classic John Byrne Luthor, just superb.

Ah yes, the crystal. Have I mentioned how much I hate interactive talking holo-dads! How does Super-Siri actually work? What I do like is that the interactive image is Clark, not Superman, a nice intimate detail.

My occasional moan about too many artists can be waived, as this issue’s two illustrators handle distinct parts of the story. Clayton Henry draws the extended prologue starring Superman and a few JL pals in his typically strong, slick style. His mildly gloating Superman is rather fun.

It’s pretty rare to see Steve Pugh on a Super-book and he proves a great fit for our young Superman. He has previous with Luthor, having drawn the Imperious Lex two-parter last year, and is just as good here. The annoyance on Lex’s face is a constant joy, and his muscular line is perfect for the fearsome robots that attack Lexcorp. And then there’s the way Pugh draws Jon’s hair…

Look familiar? Then you’re not ancient like me, who got to thinking of Klar Ken T-5477, the Superman of 2965 (I read it ten years later, mind)!

I do like a good coincidence. The takeout is that Legacy Supermen like flouncy hair.

Colouring the art are Romulo Fajardo Jr and Steve Buccellato, and they do a splendid job, as does letterer Dave Sharpe with Taylor’s script.

Regular artist John Timms does the cover. I’m not a fan of the concept – Jon’s first annual should at least show his face – but the idea is executed well enough.

And as I said earlier, this is my favourite Jon-starring Superman book yet. More of This Kind of Thing please!

6 thoughts on “Superman: Son of Kal-El 2021 Annual #1 review

  1. Agreed. This was a good one, and Jon was more mature – his endeavors were smaller in scale (save a particular polar bear, catch a falling sign), and his thoughts about solving climate change reasonably involved drawing upon the financial resources of the world to tackle the problem.

    DC released a deluge of annuals last week, so I’m glad this one was delayed by one week. Spread them out, please. Many of the annuals were padded, with panels larger than usual and minimal text, and some whizzed by faster than regular issues, and were not great. This particular annual was a very fast read.

    Still, it was good. But you know, it was not really “special.” Why did it need to be an annual at nearly double the regular price? The entire story could probably have fit in a single 22-page issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree, Mart — this is Jon’s best outing as Superman yet. And I thought the two art teams did a spectacular job.

    And I have your same doubts about those talking holograms, but man, did I love the opening moment of this. “My son” — those same words that Jor-El says in the Superman movie that started this trend — but then we look up and see Clark in a Smallville jersey. Good stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed this annual and your review of it. I love Jon’s care, understated confidence and presence. I don’t know how writer Tom Taylor is making this work, but I love this Superman. Not really sold on the costume, but that’s my hang up, not theirs.

    And the fact that Jon, in my opinion, held his own against Lex L. in wits, charm and dialogue…not an easy task to pull off in a believable way. I bought it.

    Liked by 1 person

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