Review: SUPERMAN: SON OF KAL-EL #3
[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 #3: Jonathan Kent hasn’t been Superman for long, but he’s upset some powerful people with his heroism. And the underground news source known as the Truth is helping Jon open his eyes to evils in the world that could be more powerful than the new Man of Steel. Continuing the brand-new saga of Superman from Tom Taylor, the writer of Nightwing, and John Timms, artist on Future State: Superman of Metropolis.
Despite his youth, Jonathan Kent has had adventures in a number of strange and interesting places: other planets, the future, other dimensions. However, in Superman: Son of Kal-El #3, Tom Taylor takes him to the strangest place yet: jail. Yes, this issue features the bizarre situation of the original Superman having to bail his son out of jail.
However, this situation arises naturally from the way Taylor has been writing the new Superman. Jon does not shy away from confronting the police or military when he feels they are acting unjustly. In this case, Jon decides to stand with protestors that are about to be arrested by the Metropolis police. He then tells the police, “If you’re arresting these people for standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves, then I guess you’re arresting me too”. And then he willingly allows himself to be arrested.
Taylor is making Jon Kent a Superman for the modern era. In the past, when the police were seen as heroes and strictly on the side of law and order, Superman was their staunch ally. However, the police aren’t always the heroes anymore. With many cases of police brutality and unnecessary force causing deaths, the police are sometimes the villains. This new Superman will assist the police when they are doing their duty. But will stand against them when they turn on the people they are supposed to protect.
Jon introduces his friend Jay to his family, taking him along as a guest to a family dinner at the Kent farm. It’s nice to see Ma and Pa Kent make an appearance, even if only briefly. I quite liked seeing that while Jay was quite unfazed by meeting Jon’s father, he is quite flustered by meeting Jon’s mom. Jay is an underground journalist, so it makes sense that he would idolize the Lois Lane, the DCU’s foremost journalist. However, it makes me wonder why Clark didn’t inspire a similar reaction. It’s well established that he’s supposed to be nearly as good a reporter as Lois.
However, the dinner plans are interrupted as Clark decides to have a heart to heart with Jon about his plans to go on an extended mission off planet. The older Superman expresses his faith that Jon is capable of protecting the Earth in his stead. Their conversation is summed up beautifully by Clark’s words when Jon insists that the people of Earth need Clark: “No. People need Superman. And that’s you now. I’m the Man of Tomorrow… you’re for the days after”.
Superman: Son of Kal-El #3 ends on a shocking note, as the villain Henry Bendix apparently destroys the Kent farm. Hopefully, Ma and Pa survived this. I don’t know that I could forgive Taylor taking them out like this so soon after they were brought back. However, making such an outrageous attack against Jon’s grandparents has cemented Bendix’s place as Jon’s arch-nemesis. I have to say that I like the idea of Jon having an archenemy of his own, rather than inheriting one of his father’s foes.
This is a small complaint, but I there is one point in the story where it feels like I missed something or an important story beat was left out. The Kent family greet Jon and his friend, apparently ready to sit down to a family dinner. This is interrupted by Jay’s momentary freak-out. But when he calms down and they return, the tone has suddenly shifted. Everyone is suddenly acting solemn and serious and Clark takes Jon aside for their heart-to-heart. It feels like something happened off-panel to trigger the tonal change, but there’s no hint as to what that was in the story. However, this isn’t a fatal flaw in the story, but it is a bit jarring.
I’m still not 100% sold on the basic premise of this series, but I have to admit that Tom Taylor is building a fantastic series from it. Superman: Son of Kal-El #3 is yet another example of why Tom Taylor is the perfect writer for the adventures of Jonathan Kent as Superman. And John Timms’ gorgeous artwork beautifully realizes Taylor’s story. This is quickly becoming one of DC’s best titles.