Talia al Ghul is not a fan of how Bruce Wayne is raising their son, Damian. She picks up a contract to kill someone nearby as a weird way to test her son and perhaps prove to him that his past as an assassin is not quite behind him. The target happens to be Damian’s best friend’s mom, Lois Lane. Yeah, this will end well.
Super Sons #14 is a reminder of what makes this series – and these two characters – so great. Damian and Jon work very well together and they rub off on one another. Jon’s presence makes Damian more human (which is ironic because Jon is half-Kryptonian) and Damian makes Jon feel more grown-up. This issue has them splitting up for a bit, but working towards a common goal.
As cool as the showdown between Damian and his mother is, Jon’s handling of a group of masked assassins steals the spotlight. Writer Peter J. Tomasi’s snappy dialogue is fun, striking the right balance between something a kid would say and something a super hero would say.
It’s also worth noting that Jon is still a kid. I think he’s ten years old. There’s a shot where the assassins are all on him at once and a woman walking by yells at them to stop attacking this poor child. He quips “This almost never happens in Metropolis” as he is crushing a sword in his bare hand with a smile on his face.
Artist Carlo Barberi captures that youthful exuberance well. It’s seen in Jon’s bright-eyed smile after he literally catches a bullet and when he takes a moment to blow on his fingers because “that did not tickle.” His hair is mussed up and he looks like a rambunctious child. He just happens to be one that can fly and shoot lasers from his eyes.
There’s a fun, somewhat awkward meeting that follows this as Lois meets Superboy outside. Jon has to act like he doesn’t know her because they’re out in public. Although she found her son gallivanting around at night in another city, Lois handles it well, with a knowing grin and a glint in her eye. This speaks to the fantastic relationship at work with the Kents as they’ve become this ideal family, espousing everything the S stands for.
We go from this glowing family dynamic to a mother and son literally punching each other, with Damian and Talia. Their relationship – if you can call it that – is so different from the one Jon has with his parents. Although he still cares for his mother, he understands that he cannot support her in her efforts. Damian is his father’s son and that title brings with it a certain level of honor that he’s really taken to. He can hold his head up high knowing that he’s doing the right thing, even if that means fighting his own mother.
This also shows how much Damian has grown, particularly after his friendship with Jon started. He recognizes that he has some darkness in his past and he’s done things he regrets, but he can be a better person now. Jon can inspire him to reach higher. He just doesn’t have to tell Jon that.
Super Sons is the ideal representation of Superman and Batman in pint size form. It’s such a shame that this series is ending because it is so consistently well done. It works for readers of any age, whether you’re a life-long World’s Finest fan or a kid picking up their first comic. We need more books like this.