Superman: Son of Kal-El #9 review

While reading a comic that might make it to this blog, I screengrab panels and pages that impress me.

It’s pretty rare that I want to reproduce the whole comic. But that’s S:SoK #9, an issue that had me smiling on every page. It’s full of smart moments, beautifully illustrated, as our young Superman joins forces with Nightwing to investigate the murders of superheroes.

The first half of the crossover in Nightwing #89 ended with Jon and Dick tracking the killers’ trail to Lexcorp headquarters in Metropolis. This issue begins with our heroes drawing out the three metahuman murderers by interfering with Lexcorp criminal activities in entertaining style.

In no time at all it’s Nightwing and Superman vs the unnamed nogoodniks, and it is delightful.

Did you notice something different about Dick in the first panel, there? Find out what that’s all about in this treat from writer Tom Taylor, artist Bruno Redondo, co-inker Wade Von Grawbadger, colourist Adriano Lucas, letterer Wes Abbott and editors Jillian Grant, Jessica Chen and Paul Kaminski.

As well as the team-up action there’s a development with The Truth, the alternate news outlet run by Jon’s boyfriend Jay. We’ve just found out that Dick is putting some of his newfound wealth into the project, but he’s envisioning some changes.

I can see the logic in this if we accept that Dick would invest in the Truth in the first place, but he’s going at this from the entirely wrong direction. He knows Lois Lane. He wants to invest in a news outlet. So why the heck would he snub the Daily Planet to put cash into a mysterious organisation whose chief won’t even show Dick their face? What happened to make Dick distrust ‘traditional’ media? He should be asking Lois to investigate the Truth, which could cause interesting conflict given Jon’s links. It’s really strange that Lois, a newspaper journalist to her core, doesn’t have anything to say about Dick’s offer

The next scene makes much more sense to me, as Dick checks to see how Jon is feeling following a disturbing moment earlier in the issue.


The close of the conversation is truly heartwarming. This issue also features a fantastic moment of Lois acting totally in character and Jay being either a total drama queen, or deliberately interrupting Jon and Dick’s moment of bonding (have I mentioned that I’m pretty sure he’s evil?). You tell me.

I’ve never seen Jon so relaxed in action as he is here, the dour young man of previous issues is all but gone. That’s Nightwing for you… a trained aerialist, a person feels safe in his hands. Dick’s home is in the air, he laughs in the face of danger, and his confidence is infectious. We’ve had many great Dick tales, but I don’t think anyone has ever given us such a rounded Nightwing as Taylor.

Bruno Redondo’s flowing compositions take us through the issue in masterful style. There’s an especially great page in which a tower block is used to clever effect, a vertigo-inducing panel that perfectly captures the confidence Jon and Dick have in one another, and a full-page hero shot that is, as they say, suitable for framing.

Wade Von Grawbadger has been applying his inking talents to DC books since the Nineties…and he’s so ruddy good I can’t identify which pages he worked on and which are all Redondo. So well done!

Regular Nightwing colour artist Adriano Lucas seems to be enjoying his visit to Metropolis, applying lovely, appropriate tones; the skies look like floating gelato, and his sense of drama nails an important transition scene. Letterer Wes Abbott, meanwhile, keeps narration and dialogue sharp, and does a fine job on the story title, World’s Finest Sons.

The cover by Redondo is an eye-catching completion cum continuation of Nightwing #89’s opening image.

Jon’s visit from Dick has given us the best issue since Superman: Son of Kal-El began. Hopefully we’ll see Superman and Nightwing together again soon.

5 thoughts on “Superman: Son of Kal-El #9 review

  1. Yes, an absolutely delightful issue, excellent in every respect but most especially for the human touches that few comics do nearly so well. Two added thoughts:

    1) I don’t see Dick as “snubbing traditional media.” To invest in a new news operation is not to necessarily reject old media, though he may think that The Truth brings something to the game that the Daily Planet does not. I subscribe to the NYT and Washington Post, but also read younger, online news operation Axios and aggregator par excellence The Next Draft every day. Heck, I read entertainment news/reviews from full-scale publishers and this mighty blog. The Daily Planet wouldn’t take “investment,” other than being bought outright if it were for sale.

    2) One of the business advantages of this sort of cross-book crossover (vs. a standalone miniseries) is that it exposes readers of one book to the other(s), in the hopes of driving up sales. But because this issue of Son Of (my first) is by the same creative team on Nightwing, I don’t feel like I’ve learned whether I’d like Jon’s book. I just got a stealth bonus issue of the Nightwing run that I love. I’m very glad that Taylor, Redondo et. al. finished this story, but it struck me when you said that the dour Jon of previous issues was gone. Sure he’s gone; Taylor writes him differently. Will next issue continue that evolution, or go back to dour? I dunno, but I will undermine my point by admitting I’m more likely to give next issue a flip-through in the shop …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. On point one, fair enough, but The Truth just reeks of sinister intent, what with Jay’s freak mask and it’s agenda steering the news it publishes. As for the crossover bit, Taylor is Jon’s regular writer, so you are getting something of a look at his approach.


      1. Oh, that helps (that Taylor writes Jon regularly). Shows how much I’ve paid attention.

        And though I think it’s a fine idea for Dick to support an upstart news operation, I don’t doubt that The Truth will turn out to be, y’know, A Lie. If there’s no villainy here, it would be great if Jon finds his own version of the Daily Planet, with a modern take. But somehow I don’t see an ongoing status quo where Superman works for his mom.


  2. I was grinning and laughing my way through this one too. Nightwing tumbling casually off the building, grabbing the stick when Jon tosses it to him — this was such fun. It’s definitely cinematic – I could see this wonderful sequence on film.

    I hope this is a good sign and that Taylor can keep steering the book in directions like this.

    You know, I like John Timms’s work, but then – I liked Harley Quinn better when Sami Basri took over. And I prefer Redondo’s clean work here too.

    Sadly, Redondo can’t draw all the books.

    Liked by 1 person

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