Superman is dead. Yet Superman lives.
The Man of Steel died defending his adopted homeworld of Earth. Yet unbeknownst to the world at large, there is another Superman—a refugee from a parallel Earth, who married his world’s version of Lois Lane and had a son name Jonathan. He is an older, wiser Clark Kent who was content to help the world in secret, but now must reveal himself to a world that still needs a Superman.
After a fateful encounter with this world’s version of Lana Lang, whom he helped to secretly relocate the other Superman’s body to Smallville where he could be buried alongside his adopted parents, Superman makes an astonishing discovery. The world now has a Superboy to go with its new Superman! Jonathan Kent has begun to manifest some of his father’s powers. Not at full-strength and not consistently, but enough that Clark has had to start training his son in controlling his sudden bursts of heat-vision lest any more accidental fires erupt. It’s something Clark is glad to do but others are not so overjoyed by the empowerment of a half-Kryptonian/half-Earthling child.
The Eradicator—a Kryptonian artificial Intelligence programmed to defend the culture of Krypton and protect the purity of the Kryptonian genome—has somehow sensed Jonathan’s existence. And it will not tolerate the dilution of the bloodline of The House of El, nor allow Earth to survive when it would better serve as the base for the establishment of a new Krypton. In order to save the only world he has ever known, the son of Superman must gain control of his powers in time to help his father fight The Eradicator.
Son of Superman is a spirited introduction to the new status quo of Superman in the wake of DC Comics’ Rebirth revival. The story by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason reveals by showing, rather than telling. There is little in the way of exposition beyond the opening chapter, in which Lana Lang tells the story of her first love and the elder Superman ponders the reality of his own world relative to the tale his is told. After that, the action of the story reveals us to Jonathan Kent and the trials and tribulations he faces as he struggles to contain the power within himself.
The art duties for this volume are managed by Patrick Gleason, Jorge Jimenez, and Doug Mahnke. All three are skilled artists, but the differences between their styles are quite distinct. Gleason favors an exaggerated, manga-influenced aesthetic with big eyes and light detailing. Jimenez sports a similarly animated appearance, though he favors far heavier shadows and inks. Mahnke has perhaps the most traditional and realistic style of the three artists. Thankfully, each artist handles individual chapters rather than individual pages so the visual disparity is kept to a minimum.
Son of Superman is rated 12+ and that rating is a fair one. The most troubling part of this volume is a sequence in which Jonathan loses control of his heat vision while trying to save his mother’s cat from a hawk. The sequence is relatively free of gore and viscera but may still disturb younger readers and cat lovers, though it does spark a conversation between Super-father and Super-son on the nature of responsibility and the importance of telling the truth. Apart from this moment, there is little superheroic violence of note, nor any cursing or adult situations.
Superman, vol. 1: Son of Superman
by Peter Tomasi Patrick Gleason
Art by Patrick Gleason, Jorge Gleason, and Doug Mahnke.
DC Comics, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: 12+