Review: SUPERMAN: SON OF KAL-EL #2
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: John Timms
Colours: Gabe Eltaeb
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Superman: Son of Kal-El #2: Jonathan Kent now dons his father’s cape, but can he be Superman and still have a normal life? It’s tough in this modern world. Danger is everywhere. The new Superman learns this the hard way on his first day of college, and a deadly attack forces Jon to step from the shadows and into the spotlight-where his identity is exposed to the Truth, an activist news machine ready to upset everything. But first, the son still has some things to learn from his father-and a few cool toys to inherit. Ask yourself, what would you do with your very own Fortress of Solitude? This all-new chapter in the legacy of Man of Steel has only just begun to reveal its surprises!
In Superman: Son of Kal-El #2, Tom Taylor introduces us to Jon’s new secret identity, Finn Connors. Finn is a new university student. I’m sure this cover identity will provide numerous story opportunities over the coming years…. What? Well that didn’t last long. Jon ends up having to blow his cover almost immediately to stop a shooting. Perhaps Jon isn’t cut out to have a secret identity. However, Jon’s new friend Jay Nakamura, a.k.a. online video personality The Truth, hints at an idea to give Jon some anonymity.
Clark comes to Jon to have a father-son talk. The senior Superman gives his son the benefit of some fatherly wisdom. He also has some gifts for Jon: a new costume and a key to his own Fortress of Solitude. However, Jon questions why his father is doing so. Clark then reveals that he may have to leave Earth soon, and that he’s entrusting Jon to protect Earth in his absence.
We also see Jon rescuing a boat full of asylum seekers from the island country of Gamorra. While saving the refugees is a heroic act, it’s one that seems to be angering a lot of people. The authorities are not pleased about Jon bringing foreigners into the country, or his insistence that they be treated humanely. And it has gained Jon the enmity of Gamorra’s dictator President, Henry Bendix. Bendix and Gamorra might be familiar to longtime readers of The Authority. Neither portends anything good for Jon.
Overall, I like the idea of Jon being a more socially conscious Superman than his father. That is a more risky course than Clark followed. And as such, he will have to navigate issues that Clark never did, and Clark may not be able to guide Jon in doing so. Taylor is setting up Jon to become his own man, rather than a carbon copy of his father. But hopefully both Clark and Lois will still be a presence in the series.
There seems to be a similar passing of the baton to a new generation in the Batman books, with Jace Fox set to become The Next Batman. While that story is interesting, I have to say that I prefer the story Taylor is telling here. The succession seems more organic going from father to son, where Jace seems to have appeared out of nowhere to claim Bruce’s legacy. I have my doubts that Jace will stay in the role indefinitely, but I can see Jon remaining as one of DC’s Supermen for years to come.
John Timms is doing a fantastic job on the art for this title so far, and I have to say that I love his new costume design for Jon. The S-shield is close to the one his father wears, giving the suit a more traditional feel. But it’s also different enough to be uniquely his own. I like the way that the S-shield blends into his cape, the same way his original Superboy costume did. Overall, the costume is appropriately new, but with connections to his and his father’s past.
I was very much against the decision to artificially age Jon from 10 to 17. I thought it was a poorly conceived and executed way for Brian Michael Bendis to set up his Legion of Super-Heroes reboot. But Tom Taylor has taken those lemons and made lemonade. And what delicious lemonade it is. I can almost forgive Bendis for his changes to Jon – almost.
With Superman: Son of Kal-El #2, Tom Taylor continues to build on last issue’s promising start. While I have some issues with the original premise of an adult Superman, I cannot deny that Taylor is providing a fantastic story. And Taylor’s story is wonderfully realized in John Timm’s gorgeous artwork.