Superman: Son of Kal-El #14 review

In which Lois Lane exposes Henry Bendix’s trade in superhuman living weapons to the world.

The Gamorran leader prepares for a siege.

Young Superman Jon Kent’s new allies the Revolutionaries get a talk on heroism.

Another hero joins the campaign to topple Bendix.

And Jay acquits himself rather well in his first outing as superhero Gossamar.

On the one hand, well done Jay for showing great courage in the face of Bendix’s thugs. On the other, does Jon really need to send his untrained boyfriend onto his enemy’s home turf. Yes, reckons Jon.

If only Jon knew a more experienced superhero who could, say, vibrate through walls?

From Superman: Son of Kal-El #4

Or phase through them, like Jay.

From Legion of Super-Heroes #1, that’s Phantom Girl in front of Jon

OK, there’s often someone better to do the job than the person in the series you’re reading, but Jon was chatting to Wally just days before this. His ties to the Legion of Super-Heroes are so strong that he seemingly has a closet full of 31st-century superhero kit he can hand out to Dreamer (last issue) or Jay (this one). The idea that Jon would just see a barrier, throw his hands up in the air and say he doesn’t understand it, rather than, oh I don’t know, examine it with his super senses, equipment from the Fortress of Solitude or call in a super genius like the Atom or Blue Beetle is ludicrous. Heck, surely Dreamer has a nonsense power for the occasion?

Maybe Jay will get killed and Jon will Learn a Lesson? I do hope not, Jay is growing on me, he hasn’t seemed shifty for months. Also, he’s more useful than this comic’s title character this time, with Superman Jr sticking to the roles of quartermaster and Speechmaker in Chief.

Am I grumpy? I may be grumpy… I honestly thought the Bendix business would be over by the end of this comic, but nope, turns out this is just part one of the ‘Siege of Gamorra’. Make it stop. Henry Bendix is super dull and the idea that Batman hasn’t gone all in with Jon to shut down what’s become a rogue nation is daft – this is perfect Outsiders fodder. And what’s Luthor’s endgame? We know he’s been helping Bendix, but while mentioned, he’s not in this issue…is he sitting back, waiting to pick up the pieces after the kryptonite hits the fan?

Things I liked in Tom Taylor’s script. That speech by Jon is great. The subsequent rallying of the troops by Robin is differently excellent. Jay does indeed do well.

But Jon doesn’t do enough. The Revolutionaries are utterly anodyne compared to how they were in Taylor and Bruno Redondo’s superb Suicide Squad. We still don’t know if Lois has actually quit the Daily Planet to work for The Truth online rag. And this is a very quick read, a tiny nugget of the overall story.

Cian Tormey’s art, coloured rather drably by Fernando Blee, is fine, not terribly exciting but it tells the story. There’s a double page action spread that should be a lot more exciting. The best artistic moment is when Jon finds Robin has joined their mission – we get smiles. Everywhere else Jon is looking sad or bemused or stern… a Superman shouldn’t be so depressing. But when he’s with Robin, he’s happy. I’ve not said it for months, but for cripes’ sake, wipe out this version of Jon Kent and give us back tween Jon, the happy, spunky, clever Superboy – let some other hero carry the torch for earnest young adults.

Rant rant… I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue, on this series. Am I being too hard on it?

Another positive! I really like the cover by illustrator Travis Moore and colourist Tamra Bonvillain, it has the joie de vivre the actual storyline lacks, and it’s beautifully executed.

Is it deliberate that the costume designed for ‘Phantom Boy’ Jay is so much like old LEGION member Phase’s look?

6 thoughts on “Superman: Son of Kal-El #14 review

  1. Good catch, probably the same costume. Jon does say the costume is from the future.

    Unexplained? – Jon says he can’t go in, because there’s a giant filled with Kryptonite gas…. and then later, he flies in once the shield is down. Was the Kryptonite man disabled somehow? Maybe I missed that.

    All I know is, we never get enough Chaos Kitten. I have no idea what her skill set is, though. I guess she’s a nihilist. (Her cap reads “Nope”.)

    I agree, Tamra Bonvillain’s coloring (on the cover here) is always something special. She does the colors for the World’s Finest book, lending it that warm glow that is part of what makes it feel, somehow, nostalgic. She and Travis Moore would be a great team for the interiors. Is Moore doing interiors these days? He did a long run on Wonder Woman not that long ago.

    I probably say this every month – I buy it, but it is inessential reading. At this point I’m waiting to see how the crossover with Kal-El’s return goes, and then what new status quo might develop. In the timeline, Superman “dies” in Dark Crisis after he returns from Warworld, and the main continuity should finally catch up with Dark Crisis maybe by the end of this year. After that – will there be any repercussions?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t see where I said ‘unexplained’ but it’s early, my eyes aren’t awake. I mean, I get why Jon says he can’t go in, but I’m not convinced. If you know there’s a Kryptonite threat, wear lead or something. He’s meant to be stronger than his dad, let’s see him prove as resourceful. I just don’t think a Superman should be hanging back.

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  2. You’re right, Superman should have found a way in. I guess Taylor has to find rationales for Jay to do stuff, because this is a weird team book.

    Oh I didn’t mean you said it was unexplained. I was asking the question – are the whereabouts of The Kryptonite Gas Man explained, but I missed it?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jay’s costume doesn’t seem too derived from the Phase look, it just fits that genre of costumes that tend to be given to characters with more ethereal powers. Not one I’m a great fan of because that off-shade of grey just doesn’t work to me.
    But now that you’ve brought it up it does seem odd that his girlfriend in the future gives his boyfriend in the past a new look but doesn’t seem to think of anything kryptonite-proof for Jon. As for Nia, her dream power gloves were tolerable on the tv show but should have been left there.

    The Bendix story line does seem to have lingered a little too long and not sure if it’s because this feels like a second back-door pilot for the Revolutionaries or a wrap up of storylines Taylor had planned for thbem getting a feature title.
    DC seems particularly uninterested in debuting new teams in their own books currently, but think they deserve a shot.

    Liked by 1 person

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