Any parent can tell you that kids have selective hearing. If you tell them to clean up their room or go brush their teeth, they’ll look at you like you have six heads. If you incentivize them with a cookie, they’ll jump through walls to get it done. Normally, this isn’t a big deal. It’s not life and death. In the case of Clark Kent and his son, Jon, it can be.
Jon is excited to be fighting alongside his father as Superboy, however he’s a kid and doesn’t have the wealth of experience that Clark has in the field. He’s young and impulsive. Clark describes him as a hammer bashing in every nail he sees. This fill-in issue, written by Michael Moreci, illustrated by Scott Godlewski, and colored by Hi-Fi, shows this first hand as the father-and-son duo take on a group of drones terrorizing the city. Clark takes the measured approach and tries to get Jon to follow him in some tactical strikes. Meanwhile, Jon literally runs head first into every robot he sees.
As a father, I’ve seen this kind of thing first hand. It’s par for the course. I’m comforted to know that even Superman has trouble in this area. He expects Jon to listen to him and do what he tells him to do and that’s just not going to happen when you’ve got a brash young man ready to prove himself. He’s not yet a teenager (as Damian Wayne has made abundantly clear in recent issues), but Jon has that mindset. He’s right and his father couldn’t possibly know what he’s talking about.
This attitude goes somewhat against what has been established with the character to date, but it works in that Jon is finally getting out there in the world. Now that he’s got a few battles under his belt, he’s become more confident which is affecting the relationship with his father. Godlewski’s depiction of Jon captures this in his facial expressions. There’s a sly smirk on his face as he dives into battle.
The drones are connected to two aliens raising havoc. The robots themselves are rather generic, like a militaristic version of the ones from I, Robot. The alien warriors are villains that Superman has encountered before and they look the part. This is a Kal-El level battle so it’s a good thing he’s got back-up.
The issue bounces back and forth between this present day struggle and a similar tale from Clark’s past with his own father. This serves as a testament to the idea that you’ll end up with a kid just like you. Clark made the same headstrong mistakes that Jon is making now. Once he realizes that, he understands what he has to do. It’s pretty obvious and it’s a bit on the nose, but it’s a nice break from the non-stop death-defying terror the family has been put through over the past 25 issues. It’s perfect for any parent.