Last month, international bad guy Henry Bendix sent his pet super team to Metropolis after climate change woke a leviathan. Superman and Junior Aquaman Jackson Hyde had been handling things just fine, calming the beast, but Bendix’s Gamorra Corps were out to kill the creature. Enraged, it struck out, and Gamorran teen metahuman Spark died.
And ignoring Jon Kent’s entreaties to stand down until he returns from taking Spark’s body to shore, the Gamorra Corps again attack the giant-size lobster thing. The force of the beast’s reaction causes a tidal wave to head for Metropolis, but one hero has a plan.
All of which gets us halfway through Superman: Son of Kal-El # 8, as writer Tom Taylor continues to raise Jon’s eco consciousness. It’s a decent issue, but not a great argument for Jon as leading man – his biggest super-feat comes at the suggestion of New Aquaman, while it’s boyfriend Jay who’s giving him a new career direction. Jon is a good kid, and brilliant at saving lives, but he’s so blooming passive. And earnest – I know he spent years on Earth 3, being tormented in a volcano, but the best thing for the book would be to ignore that, and plug into the Super Sons vibe that made him popular in the first place.
And as last time, the story is narrated by Jay, on his The Truth news platform, distancing us from Jon. This is a Superman defined by others – Jay, Aqualad… heck, even the title of the book places him in his father’s shadow. And after the leviathan is placed in good hands, Jon falls victim to a guilt fest
Its Super Sad Sack. We’re more than half a year into Jon’s reign as Superman but he’s coming across as overpromoted. He’s been raised by Superman, he’s been adventuring for a decade or something at this point… and he needs Kid Aquaman to tell him how best to use his powers?
It really is time for Jon to show us he’s the star of this book, to stop being on the back foot and start kicking butt and taking names. Perhaps he could even smile when he’s in action. Certainly this issue’s returning art team of penciller Cian Tormey and inker Raul Fernandez are capable of giving us big, fun comic book moments. This time they use Aquaman II’s water funnels to bring extra motion to the page, they continue to make the creature look marvellous and they nail the facial expressions and body language. Sadly, we don’t get another look at Lex Luthor’s lift.
And I’m still waiting to see what the Daily Planet staff are up to while The Truth is apparently setting the news agenda. Are the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters content to let a bunch of know-all kids with an agenda steal their audience? Maybe Taylor isn’t interested in the best supporting cast in comics, but the Daily Planet isn’t just a setting, a newspaper, it’s a character in the Superman mythos; it’s a massive missed opportunity not to use it, and comic legends Lois, Jimmy, Perry and friends.
The title of the current arc is The Rising, which refers to Bendix’s plan to let states buy their own tame – very tame – metahumans from him.
Based on the performance of the Gamorra Corps, none of whom were allowed to act on their own initiative, I’m surprised anyone is listening to him.
It’ll be interesting to see how the drone ‘heroes’ get on. Well, I hope it’ll be interesting – the alternative superhero thing has been done many times, but Taylor can produce brilliant scripts. Maybe we’ll even find out the names and powers of the Gamorra Corps. Perhaps The Rising will see this series go up my personal charts. I hope so, because while each issue has been competent, and we’ve had some good scenes, I never find myself excited when a new one appears.
This issue does have a great cover, with Dan Mora giving us an impressively determined Jon getting ready for action. Mind, he’s a lot friendlier towards the beastie inside the issue.
Overall, this is a nicely written, good-looking comic, with well-drawn characters and an important ecological message – I just wish it made me smile a bit more.