THIS REVIEW OF ‘THE ADVENTURES OF THE SUPER SONS’ #1 CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.
By Clyde Hall. Few comics centered on superhero kid protagonists were in the same league (or League) as the canceled but not forgotten DC series Super Sons as written by Peter J. Tomasi and drawn by Jorge Jiménez. It was enjoyable, smart, true to its characters, and even cute at times but without ever sending diabetic readers into sugar-induced comas. Sadly, changes in the Superman titles, for the most part, necessitated the end of the current Damian and Jon bromance.
As an olive branch, DC editorial announced a 12-issue maxiseries chronicling the ‘lost and secret adventures’ of Superboy and Robin ‘transcending current events’, which is PR lingo for taking place in the past. Not a lot of comfort perhaps for the Superman fans pondering the fate of Jon and Lois in the new ongoing Bendis books, but it’s good to have the boys back in any venue. The first issue premieres this week and the boys are back in town… in this case, Metropolis.
How do Super Sons begin their normal day? Taking down a minor supervillain before school, in this case the Puppeteer, in overall continuity an old sparring partner of Green Lantern and the Teen Titans. At least he’s used to getting his strings yanked by superkids. Then it’s off to class, where the West-Reeve school is letting out for the summer, and our young heroes are planning the same sorts of things other kids are. Namely, repairing their clubhouse and looking forward to a few weeks free of adult supervision while the folks are on a trip. Of course, with these two the clubhouse is their crime-fighting lair and HQ, and the parental units are probably off fighting supervillainy or extraterrestrial incursion on a grand scale. The Diminutive Duo are well into their renovation and resupply when an alert comes in regarding a mindless monster rampaging across Metropolis Mall and likely endangering the general citizenry. Robin and Superboy find there’s a method to the mindlessness, however, when they encounter the Gang, a group of youthful visitors from out of town—way far out of town.
The story is an expeditious intro to the Summer of Super, as Jon tags their upcoming sojourn, and sets the stage ably for either an ongoing rumble with the Gang or separate adventures that constitute how the Sons spend their summer break. Writer Peter J. Tomasi is back, and in prime form as he delineates a Damian that has just enough caustic cynicism to keep him in sync, but still likeable. And his Jon is the kind of best friend we all wish we’d had growing up: supportive, loyal, and malleable to play the games we want if guided properly.
Penciller Carlo Barberi excels at the action sequences, his POVs creative and interesting across the panels. He’s also balanced in the quieter moments, with great expressions and details, whether it’s Damian discussing extra credit with a teacher or Jon carrying a ton of soda into their HQ. If he’s responsible for designing the look of the Gang members, even more credit is due; their uniforms and appearances are young cosplay done perfectly. Rob Leigh’s lettering is excellent for this run, dealing out varieties of impactful FWAMMS and BLAMMS, but also breaking up locations with cool transition letter boxes. The former are celebrations of juvenile vibrancy, the latter subtle but stand-out setting switchers.
There are a few quibbles, as in Alfred not having more of a presence and not apparently counting as adult supervision for the boys. The antagonists do echo the Kid Amazo vibe of a previous Super Sons story, but it still has charm. Antagonists tend toward certain varieties: B-team supervillains who can be overcome by youthful adversaries and were never much challenge to older heroes anyway; juvenile versions of established villains where possible or already part of continuity; mainstream villains who suddenly look silly being overcome by kids (Dr. Light Syndrome, likely resulting in an Identity Crisis down the line, so to be avoided); and completely original opponents of adult or youthful variety who just didn’t expect superhero opposition. Tomasi varied these nicely in the ongoing series, and this take is an amalgam of two standards, wrapped in enigma. Explanation and exposition of the mystery will determine how effective his efforts are here, but he has a firm track record of excellence.
Adventures of the Super Sons #1 satisfies, especially if you enjoy the interplay between two very different kids who find themselves unlikely allies thanks to their parents working at the same job. Damian is a complex character written well and diversely across DC titles, but my favorite version rests here. The mixture of Jon’s mother and father, their attitudes and personalities, are always in subtle balance with Tomasi’s Superboy as well. Seeing him take center stage rather than used as a support character in other books is always a treat. If you’ve missed your monthly fix of these young gentlemen, get ready to experience an explosive Summer of Super.
Written by Peter J. Tomasi.
Pencils by Carlo Barberi.
Inks by Art Thibert.
Colors by Protobunker.
Letters by Rob Leigh.
7.5 out of 10