Superman kicks off the Rebirth era in strong fashion with Son of Superman.
Following the death of the young Superman, an older version from the now-defunct post-Crisis reality begins to emerge from the shadows. This Superman’s been hiding out on the DC Earth for years, with his wife, Lois Lane, and their young son, Jonathan. The other heroes begin to become aware of him, though they don’t exactly trust him. Jonathan’s emerging powers inadvertently give rise to the birth of the Eradicator, determined to preserve a pure Kryptonian bloodline. Superman and Lois go to extremes to protect their son, leading to a massive showdown on the Moon that puts this Superman firmly in the public eye.
Long-time collaborators Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason get the Rebirth era of Superman off to an invigorating start. During the New 52 years, it was rare to find a truly compelling Superman tale. A host of top line creators struggled to find a compelling hook for the venerable character and his supporting cast. Bringing the post-Crisis Superman back into the spotlight, with his wife and son a prominent part of the proceedings, gives the writers a lot to work with. The “super family” concept, the need to both protect Jon and train him, provides a powerful dramatic engine for the reborn series.
Tomasi and Gleason have a strong grasp of their characters. They write the Clark/Lois relationship rather well, providing a relatable portrait of a long-term marriage that gives a realistic anchor to the wilder story of the book. The duo handles young Jon rather effectively, too. They get the right mix of childish wonder that a boy in Jon’s position would feel without making him excessively “goody two shoes.” Jon has a believable bond with each of his parents and the family dynamic gives the book dimensions that are fairly unique in DC’s current line-up.
Eradicator is a good villain for the inaugural arc. He provides a challenge firmly based in Superman’s heritage that gives the creative team an excuse to “go big.” Over the course of the story, other classic Superman elements come into play and the character’s new status quo is firmly established by the wrap. In seven issues, Tomasi and Gleason do more to bring Superman into the modern age than other creators did with the misguided “young and hip” makeover of the New 52 era.
Gleason is also the primary artist on the arc, working with long-time collaborators inker Mick Gray and colorist John Kalisz. That trio has a well-established aesthetic that works nicely for Superman. There are plenty of bold, one- and two-page splashes that project a lot of drama and the images have a dynamic flow that keeps the energy level high. They employ a savvy blend of traditional page construction and creative layouts and know when to mute things with a subdued palate and heavier use of shadows and when to cut loose with bright, bold tones. Also contributing here are Dough Mahnke (who has a long history with the character) and Jorge Jimenez. Both employ styles similar enough to Gleason’s that the occasional art team shift, while not invisible, isn’t disruptive. It’s a good indicator that, so far at least, this book is navigating the twice-monthly publishing schedule fairly smoothly.
If you felt like you haven’t read a satisfying Superman story in years, then Son of Superman is worth checking out. It will restore your faith in the franchise.