Superboy and Robin go to school. That might sound lame, but I assure you, it’s the farthest thing from it. Jon and Damian are attending a private school in Metropolis and the interactions with other children are going about as well as you’d expect. On one hand, you’ve got Jon, who is really hamming it up acting as a normal kid, complete with fumbling on the kickball field. On the other, there’s Damian who arrives in a Wayne Industries helicopter piloted by his butler and disdainfully shows how much smarter he is than everyone else in his class.
The dialogue choices in Super Sons #13 are top notch. I love the conversation between Damian and Alfred. You can hear the dry sarcasm from the butler as he carefully lands the helicopter. As he leaves, Damian tells Alfred to tell his father that he’ll pay for this. Alfred replies “I tell him every day, as requested.” He takes none of this boy’s crap, but recognizes that he still has to somewhat play nice with him. It’s just the kind of firm hand Damian needs.
The crux of Super Sons #13 hinges on the arrival on Talia al Ghul. Apparently she has some issues with how Bruce Wayne is raising their son and has decided to intervene. This creates some great scenes as Damian’s bloody past comes back to haunt him. Meanwhile, Jon is shocked by what his friend may have done. To Jon, they’re both just kids, but Damian has lived an entire life – and death – already.
Damian shows no love for his mother. Artist Carlo Barberi makes the Boy Wonder appear bigger and stronger than he is as he stares down Talia. There is no fear as this woman holds a sword to his throat. This is just how they interact it seems. You really feel for the kid. This is a stark contrast to the innocence of Jon. Even when confronted with someone as deadly as Talia, he’s still wide-eyed and awe-struck, however he gets more serious when he sees his friend is in danger.
Damian is forced to confront his past and his destiny. His life could go one of two very different ways. He can follow in his father’s footsteps as Batman or he can embrace his mother’s legacy with the League of Assassins. You can see him struggle with this as Talia leaves a sword with him. He stares at it with angst. It would be so easy to pick that up and ascend to a position of power within the League.
The encounter between Damian, Jon, and Talia happens beneath the bleachers by the football field. Shadow plays a big part in this scene, giving it a moody atmosphere, particularly when Jon prepares his heat vision with red eyes piercing through the darkness. This also works to shroud half of Damian’s face at times, symbolizing the duality of his destiny.
Super Sons #13 strikes the right balance between great character development and compelling story. Writer Peter J. Tomasi has made this book an absolute delight to read. It’s this kind of care that has made Super Sons one of the best super hero comics on the stands today. We’ve explored the relationships between Jon and Damian and their fathers. Now we’re turning that attention to their mothers and I’m very interested to see how this plays out.