Review: Jon Kent Grows Up In ‘Superman: Son Of Kal-El’ #4
by Tony Thornley
This opening arc of Superman: Son of Kal-El has one central theme — Jon Kent growing up. That’s not to say he hasn’t since he was aged up, but now he’s facing some of the real world’s toughest truths as well as some unique realities of the DC Universe. It means that it’s time for our young Superman to realize what he’s facing, and grow up.
This is an interesting issue after what’s gone on the last few months. I’m still digesting it a bit, but if it continues in this trajectory, it could make for a more interesting series than what we’ve seen so far. It comes from Tom Taylor, Daniele di Nicuolo, Gabe Eltaeb, Hi-Fi Color, and Dave Sharpe.
Harry Bendix has declared war on Jon Kent. His first shot is in destroying the Kent farm. Now, our young hero needs to decide how to handle it. Does he come in guns blazing? Or does he find another way to depose the fascist former hero? Either way, it may have terrible consequences for Superman!
I’ve made it no secret that I’ve struggled with some elements of this series. When Taylor writes superhero soap opera, he writes some of the most engaging comics on the market. But when he tries to engage anything deeper, he lacks the need depth and nuance some of these topics need. Just look at the series’ second issue for the prime example of where he falls short. This issue, he strikes a balance that, if he can maintain it moving forward, would give us just the right tone for the series.
The opening scene is some very fun superhero comics. While Taylor’s narration shows us a glimpse inside Jon’s head during an emergency, guest artist di Nicuolo uses his layouts to create a sense of urgency. In fact, he even divides an early two page spread like a clock, creating the feeling that the danger is counting down as he tries to rescue his family and friends.
His depiction of Jon is just a little bit older than most, but it fits as Taylor shows our young hero gaining a bit more perspective and gravitas. di Nicuolo is also able to show how Jon is an amalgamation of his parents through his body language — with Clark’s open and inviting mannerisms when he’s trying to set someone at ease, but Lois’s intensity as he tries to solve a problem. I struggle when a story brings in a guest artist this soon, but di Nicuolo steps in ably for this issue.
The jury is still out for me about how I’m feeling about the series overall. It’s been a mixed bag so far. It has potential, but it clearly needs to take more care than it has to date. If Taylor writes to his strengths it could be, at least, a fun long-term read.
Superman: Son of Kal-El #4 is available now from DC Comics.
A stronger entry in the series so far, this shows the potential of what the series could be. We just hope it’s an indication of the overall direction and not just a fluke.