Superman: Son of Kal-El #17 review

Father and son, Superman and Superman 2, have been reunited after too long apart, and Clark and Jon have some catching up to do.

As it turns out, Clark doesn’t catch Jon. Son is faster than Dad this time (‘The cape must have slowed me down’, says Clark to his equally be-caped son). Race over, they can relax and talk.

Or not. Later, back on Earth, Superman helps Jonathan Kent rebuild his parents’ recently razed farm. Clark takes the opportunity to talk to Pa Kent Sr about Jon, about how he evaded talking about coming out as a bisexual. He had new boyfriend Jay over to enjoy Martha’s cooking the very night the farm was blown up by now defeated bad guy Henry Bendix, and they’ve been snogging all over the media. Why is Jon being so coy with his father?

Meanwhile in Metropolis, a young man talks to his parents. His dead parents.

That button press causes a big explosion, bringing Jon to the scene, where his confidence in his invulnerability takes a hit…

… and the mystery youth confronts Jon.

A traumatised teenager accusing a Superboy of ruining his life after a fire? That rings a bell.

From Adventure Comics #271, April 1960

Mind, while the unnamed kid – I assume his villain name will be Red Sin – does have links to Luthor, I don’t see how he can blame Jon for the blast he sparked, whether accidentally or deliberately. I’m intrigued to see where Tom Taylor is going with this – I like the idea of Jon having a mad scientist who’s all his own.

The youth kicks Jon out of the building and he looks set to be a bright blue blob on the pavement until his cry for help brings Dad to his side. Clark gets Jon to hospital, even though it means letting his son’s assailant escape. In the recovery room, Clark and Jon finally have that chat.

Of course, Clark has a speech ready, Jon is convinced by his dad’s sincerity and there’s a big old hug, This was a necessary story. It leans too much towards the saccharine in terms of Clark’s narration and final exchange with Jon, but I’m not a parent. I would love to hear from anyone out there who is… how did this feel for you? Authentic? My Dad hugs me, and sometimes calls me ‘my son’ but that’s probably because it’s easier than remembering which of his three sons he’s talking to.

And if there are any women reading – I really hope there are – please, chime in. How do you feel about the representation of women here? The loving speeches come from the gents only. Martha appears in a photograph, Lois gets one line at Jon’s bedside. Both are mothers to super sons, why don’t they get some input? Is this Mom erasure?

Oh, and Jay is in this issue, pretending not to be evil.

Notice who he phases through? A female Dr Mid-Nite. Last time we had one of those, Dr Midnight, she was murdered by Eclipso. Is Geoff Johns’ New Golden Age project bringing Beth Chapel back to life in the wake of the Stargirl TV show’s younger version, or is this someone new? To be continued!

While I did find this story a tad cloying at times, its heart is very much in the right place. We get some nice father and son time, Jon is allowed to smile occasionally, he’s suitably super in rushing to the rescue.

And the business with Jon losing his powers – or at least his invulnerability – is intriguing, presumably the precursor to what’s coming up in the Adventures of Superman: Jon Kent six-issue series to follow this run. I won’t go into specifics, in case you’re avoiding previews.

But you know what excited me most in terms of story teases?

What on earth does Ma Kent have planned?

Tom Taylor’s script is fine, while the art by Cian Tormey and Ruairí Coleman is pretty decent, bar a terribly stumpy and over-eyebrowed Pa Kent. I’m impressed by that scene of Jon being bashed by a chair, I can feel the impact, and the panel with the baddie appearing is weirdly creepy. There’s good work, too, from colourist Romulo Fajardo Jr, especially when it comes to the fire scene. Dave Sharpe completes the creative team, giving us nice, clear lettering.

The standout image this time is the cover by illustrator Travis Moore and colour artist Tamra Bonvillain. Bucolic, beautiful.

I’ve not been the biggest fan of Superman: Son of Kal-El. This issue didn’t knock me out. But it did feel useful in getting Jon to the next place he needs to be in his journey as heir to the Superman legacy.

13 thoughts on “Superman: Son of Kal-El #17 review

  1. I teared up when Clark said what every dad should say but I do agree it was a wee bit saccharine. Needed to be said the way it was so trolls who latch on to anything ambiguous, don’t you think.

    Beth Chapel and Yolanda Montez (?) back would be great. They were wasted opportunities thrown away so Eclipso could be elevated. Marvel makes the same mistake but they don’t have DC’s eight hundred and sixty-two Crises as an excuse why they’re just back. Marvel has to have it be a plot point.

    The ad for Danger Street annoyed me more than anything in the story. Does King really sell that well? Now he’s going to take a bunch of characters that deserved to be in limbo and force them into the plot he had giving them PTSD before asking editorial who they wanted to use. It also seems (probably due to editorial who’s practicing shutting down and letting King do what he wants) they’re touting Creeper as a character who debuted in 1FS. Does that mean Doctor Fate, Metamorpho, and the New Gods will be treated as new for 1IS? Warlord too since he was already approved for a series when he appeared. Atlas might have gotten a crappy reimagining but the 1IS Starman was great in JLA. Ugh. I could complain for days about King and his trauma porn but I’ll stop here. I just wanna end with a wish that whomever edited King’s Vision mini should do a workshop for DC editors on how to rein in King’s worse tendencies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Everything I’ve heard about Danger Street makes it sound terrible. The opening idea that the likes of Warlord want to join the Justice League is awful. Metamorpho, Dr Fate, Starman and several of the New Gods have already been members. It’s all rubbish, I’ll take a look when it hits the DC app.


  2. “The loving speeches come from the gents only. Martha appears in a photograph, Lois gets one line at Jon’s bedside. Both are mothers to super sons, why don’t they get some input? Is this Mom erasure?”

    Superman was on Warworld for weeks, months? In that time, we could have had a scene with Lois, Ma Kent, or both, and more than once. Didn’t happen. Once Superman returns, it’s about “Father and Son”, not parity. I’m not sure when it became necessary for equal time with parents and their children (in fiction), but it’s a curious and somewhat silly notion. Somethings I shared with my mother, some my father, some both, and some neither. I can’t recall a time where my father imparted wisdom to me, and then my mother had her turn at it, or vice versa.

    In all, the moments aren’t very good, from the pandering race where Jon wins (yeah, right), to Superman’s talk with Pa Kent, and then his talk with Jon. They lack veracity. Does Jon honestly not know his own father is an alien from another planet? Why in the world he reject his only son for coming out? Superman has seen beings from all walks of life, yet Jon’s sexuality would be a bridge too far? Come on, Tom Taylor. Superman could be upset over missing out on yet another facet of Jon’s life: first his childhood, an now a part of his identity that the world gets to know before he does, but the aspect itself? Poor show. He’s bigger than that and Jon should know it. We all should know it.

    As someone who has mentored children for decades and has been privy to much of their lives, I know that young people don’t come to you if they don’t trust you and they don’t trust you if they don’t believe they know you.

    Apologies for the rant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not asking for parity in comic book parenting, I just get so tired of Pa Kent dispensing wisdom. Pretty much every time he appears these days he’s imparting some life lesson. Martha Kent could have a whole second family, the amount of time Jonathan spends pontificating.

      I’ll cut Taylor/Jon a bit of slack on the coming out to Clark business – it took me years to work up to coming out to my parents. They were such good people, and the idea of them rejecting me was ridiculous. But it was still very, very scary.


      1. The last time Jonathan Kent was a well-rounded character was when Geoff Johns was on the book. The issue where Clark and Pa Ken go to Bizarro World is just excellent. Otherwise, he’s reduced to Mr Kansas Migayi. I’d love to see them just hang-out and talk about mutual interests (Sports, Cinema, Politics, Farming???), but Pa Kent has been reduced to stock overall.

        I’ve never had a moment in my life that was even close to “coming out”, so I hope I don’t come across callous; I do know that it’s no easy thing to do.

        The Father & Son aspect of Superman’s stories is something that I’ve always enjoyed, but circa “Smallville” a change occurred, starting with Jor-El being made a jerk, and ending with him being a universal threat, while Pa Kent says “maybe” and gives awful advice even from beyond the grave (Thanks Man of Steel!). It bugs me because a lot of boys do not have fathers to even impart bad advice, so the scenes with Jor-El and Pa Kent were great to display for them, even if they’re only fictional.

        Last rant. I promise. 😉


      2. The tarnishing of Jor-El and Jon-Ke (sorry!) really is rubbish. I want everything Mr Oz wiped away in a reset, or just never mentioned again, or explained away as an Earth 3 infiltrator.

        I also want to find that Pa and Clark on Bizarro World story, that’s not ringing a bell.


  3. Did you notice that the Kents all have ears like a PG Tips chimp? Even Jonathan and he’s not Clark’s biological father!
    Jay is in this issue, pretending not to be evil… Hilarious. Ride that hobbyhorse, Martin, ride it.
    Maybe-Beth Chapel looks kool. It would be good if she was the same age as the original rather than complying with the version from the soon-to-end Stargirl but we shall see…
    The origin of Luthor’s baldness always cracks me up. I can’t blame him for being devastated but he’s such a narcissistic maniac. He reminds me of a certain delusional malevolent “politician” who shall remain nameless. Luthor’s more likeable tho’. Arf Arf.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t notice the ears, I must go back for a look. And how weird is it to have Beth Chaoel Dr Midnight here and, apparently, Charles MacNider in this week’s Flash? What’s going on!?


      1. I am unable to ignore those chimpy ears!
        Perhaps it is DC’s next crossover, The Midnight/Mid-Nite Corps War? I want to see Pieter Cross!


      2. I assumed it was Pieter Cross, the better man Dinah Lance let get away. The weirder part is that Beth and Pieter practice medicine in full costume.


      3. True! Real Silver Age throwbacks. Imagine if their other identity was as lavatory attendants. Awkward.


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