“Son of Superman Part Two”
DC’s excellent Rebirth stories continue with the second issue of Superman. Unfortunately I was too busy to review issue 1 so hopefully I can make up for that with this one.
This issue continues what was established in the previous one with the new Superman’s son, Jonathan starting to develop his father’s powers. In the previous issue his heat vision manifested in a really extreme way when he used it in an attempt to save the life of his mother’s cat from being killed by an Eagle. His lack of control meant that he killed the cat.
I thought this was a really brave choice as I would expect him to think that he had done it and be tortured by it for a while before finding out that the cat was fine and he needs to be more careful in future. The fact that writers stuck to their guns by leaving the cat dead is actually quite shocking and provides an important lesson for young Jonathan.
The best way to describe this issue is “father-son bonding”. This version of Clark Kent is a father and with that comes a lot of challenges that we haven’t seen a lot of in Superman stories. He still has to be Superman which means being a beacon of hope for the world but he also needs to set a good example for his son. In many ways gaining his son’s trust and acceptance is more important to him than being seen as a hero by the world.
It’s an interesting angle to explore and the fact that he is willing to bring his son out with him when he engages in heroics is a nice touch. It makes him a little more like Batman in that he is passing on the benefit of his experience to a sidekick. There is a clear bond between Clark and Jonathan here as well. I like that Jonathan is written very much as a child who is curious about the world and terrified of what is happening to him. The fact that Clark is also scared by trying to act like he knows what he’s doing also works really well. It makes their relationship feel real and shows that Clark really doesn’t have all the answers when it comes to parenthood despite his son looking to him for that knowledge.
When Jonathan reveals the costume that he is wearing and shows off the S symbol it deepens the connection between father and son. Jonathan is showing it to his father to try to win approval but Clark would like him to come around to wearing the symbol for his own reasons. People see the symbol differently and Jonathan should find his own interpretation rather than try to wear it just to please him.
There is a really genuine father-son moment when Jonathan confesses the part he played in the death of the cat. Of course, Clark already knew about it because he could smell the heat vision in the air but I like that he trusted his son enough to wait for him to admit to what he had done rather than force it out of him. Clark has clearly raised him with strong values and understands that the guilt would overpower him eventually. Jonathan needs guidance and Clark is willing to wait for him to realise that on his own.
I think the ending of the story with Jonathan falling and hitting his head and the truth about him almost becoming known to the neighbours could have been done without. I gather that it will develop further in later issues but for now it felt like it was tacked onto a story that was already a strong bonding experience for Clark and Jonathan. The teases of threats to Superman also felt a little out of place.
An excellent issue that explores the potential of having Superman be a parent as well as a hero in really interesting ways. The interactions between Clark and Jonathan that shows off Clark’s parenting style as well as how terrified he is of the unknown was great. Some elements of the story were unnecessary; particularly at the end but I am fascinated by this new direction for Superman comics.