[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writers: Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason
Penciller: Patrick Gleason
Inker: Mick Gray
It’s Christmastime in Hamilton County, and Jon Smith and his friend Kathy are leaving school to start the holiday break. On the way out, Jon literally runs into a new girl called Maya. Maya and Jon seem to hit it off pretty well despite jealous looks from Kathy. However, as soon as they are out of earshot, Maya reports the encounter to an unseen person.
On the way home, Jon wants to take a shortcut around Deadman’s Swamp, hoping to find a good tree that his family can use for a Christmas Tree. Kathy doesn’t like the idea, and heads off home on her own.
Alone, Jon changes to his Superboy outfit and commences looking for a tree. Spooked by the local wildlife, Jon loses control of his heat vision, which starts a fire. However, he is quickly pulled to safety by Nobody and Goliath, supporting cast members in Robin, Son Of Batman. Unfortunately, Superboy has an allergic reaction to Goliath’s fur, and sneezes, manifesting a new power – freeze breath. In the commotion, all three crash to the ground and Superboy loses consciousness.
When he wakes up, he finds that he’s been restrained and is being examined by Robin. At that point, Batman shows up to demand that Robin release Superboy. Nobody turns invisible, hoping that it will hide her from Batman’s notice. At that moment an angry, protective Superman arrives, looking for Jon. Although Batman didn’t support Robin’s actions, he nonetheless moves to shield his son from a wrathful Superman, pulling out a Kryptonite Batarang.
Jon unsuccessfully tries to calm Superman down, then uses his new power to create a wall of ice between the two families. The realization of Jon’s new ability shakes Superman out of his anger, and the situation defuses. Superman easily notices Nobody, despite her invisibility, so she uncloaks. It seems like everybody is friends, except Damian still distrusts Superboy.
Batman offers to run tests on Jon’s blood. Superman is unsure, but Batman points out that a human eye could catch something Kryptonians might miss.
Meanwhile, Damian shows Jon his menagerie of animals. Jon offers to let Damian keep them at the Kent/Smith farm, but Damian doesn’t take to this suggestion, instead delivering a low insult to Jon. This goads Jon into a physical fight, and Damian responds by attempting to use the Kryptonite Batarang. The fight is suddenly stopped by the two fathers, and both boys realize they are in big trouble.
I’m glad that we are seeing more exploration into Jon’s powers. Not only do we get to see a new power (freeze breath), but we also learn more about how Jon’s powers work. They seem tied to his emotional state, which explains why he is having issues controlling them.
There are also some great moments stressing the importance of fatherhood to both Superman and Batman. Both fathers instinctively leap to their own son’s defence when they are threatened. Also, there is the question Clark poses, “Do you think when we were kids… our dads had this many questions… raising us?” to which Bruce replies, “Yes. All good fathers do.” Batman has been distrustful of this new Superman he doesn’t know, but it looks like they might be able to connect through the shared experience of fatherhood.
I’m not sure I like how low Robin stoops to rile Jon up in this issue. Yes it fits the character: Damian is very anti-social, very distrustful of Superboy, and has a strong affinity with animals, so it makes sense that he would remind Jon of his accidental killing of the family cat. It seemed to go over the line into cruelty. It seems that Superboy and Robin aren’t destined to immediately become fast friends, but maybe that’s for the best. Sometimes the deepest friendships can develop out of initial antipathy. It could prove interesting to see them gradually build a friendship from the bottom up, as their fathers do the same.
What more could you ask from an issue? The World’s Finest team, Superboy, Robin, the return of characters from Robin, Son Of Batman – plus a ton of action and some bonding between DC’s two heavy hitters.