As part of my look at the third week of DC’s Rebirth event, today’s comic is Superman #1.
The story starts with Clark at the grave of New 52 Clark Kent, vowing to protect this world as Superman. As he touches the ground he leaves a blue handprint. My guess on this is that this Clark becoming more powerful and may be returning to the power levels that led to Superman Blue of the 90s.
Son of Superman is the title of this story. That title excited me because this issue is by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason and I really like their run on Batman & Robin. I would really enjoy a book about the adventures of Superman and his son, Jonathan.
The focus of this issue is the “Smith” family’s life on their farm, living in secret. Clark saves some animals when their barn catches on fire as Jonathan looks on proudly. The next day the family goes on about their routine and Jonathan runs off to do his chores with his cat, Goldie.
This is where the story takes a turn for me. Goldie, is abducted by a bird that flies off. Jonathan, desperate, lashes out with his heat vision and kills the bird and Goldie. Upset, Jonathan then looks up to see a neighbor girl who has witnessed the event who disappears. Back home, Jonathan does not mention Goldie’s fate and later lies about having seen her.
During supper, the neighbor girl from before shows up with some milk from her family. Kathy, recognizes Jonathan but neither on brings up the incident. Later, Jonathan lashes out at his parents and is sent to his room.
In his room, Jonathan sees that Batman and Wonder Woman have arrived at his house and are talking to his father outside. They see him and his ducks back into his room, hiding. The last page is his father, in costume in his bedroom door saying that Jonathan is coming with him. Despite the sinister look of this page, I am implying that he is being taken for training. Mainly because of this:
Overall, this is a well-made comic book that I enjoyed by creators I appreciate. What I didn’t enjoy and what I never do when it’s shoehorned into a Superman origin is trauma. To be clear, this is an origin story for Jonathan, as Superboy or Son of Superman, or whatever they are going to call him.
Superman does not need traumatic events in his backstory, and neither does his son. The destruction of an entire planet is enough. Now, the entire family are survivors of a dead planet, Post-Crisis Earth. There is no reason for Jonathan to be a cat killer, even accidentally.
You know who needs trauma for their origin and to add fuel to their stories? Batman. Not Superman. This is not a Batman story. Superman is supposed to be bright and hopeful. The fact that he didn’t come clean about it too is another problem. How good of parents are Lois and Clark? Wouldn’t Clark have heard his son screaming when it happened?
I know stories need conflict, but that conflict doesn’t have to come from something like this. Jonathan secretly using his powers and getting himself into trouble would have gotten the story to the same point. Maybe he was flying and crashed into the barn? Perhaps he was out at night and accidentally started the barn fire from earlier in the story? Then, Clark has to save him/put it right and realize that his son needs to be trained in using his abilities. What happens to Goldie seems gratuitous.
I really wanted to like this book as I’m a fan of the creative team and good Superman comics. The rest of the issue was good. Now, I don’t know if I will continue to pick this book up. I’m kind of on the fence now.
I don’t know who will judge Jonathan for Goldie, but only Jack Kirby can judge me.