With Superman and his son having adventures together in the DC Universe it was inevitable for the SuperFamily to run into Batman and Robin. Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason delivered a strong start to the first meeting of Jon Kent and Damien Wayne. The clash between two super sons was what I expect given everything that we know about them both. But now that clash has led both kids to deal with the wrath of Batman and Superman’s wrath. How will Robin and Superboy take their punishment? And what will be their punishment? Let’s find out right now with Superman #11.
Writers: Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Inkers: Mick Gray, Mark Morales and Christian Alamy
Colorist: John Kalisz
Story Rating: 10 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: After having their equipment taken away by their dads Robin and Superboy are walking through an unknown snowy area.
As they make their way through Alfred and Batman watch the boys from the Batcave. Alfred mentions that the boys were able to escape Batman’s boot camp bunker. Batman says that they did so separately and they need to learn to work together before they can gain the right to fly their colors.
Back with Robin and Superboy there is a sudden avalanche that causes Superboy to be left hanging on the edge of a cliff. Robin does not help Superboy since he spots their costumes nearby.
After putting their costumes on, which is missing the ‘R’ on the Robin costume and zipper on the Superboy jacket, Nobody attacks the two boys. Robin quickly counterattacks and kicks Nobody in the gut. Superboy stops Robin from attacking as he thinks Nobody can help them.
Nobody reveals that Superman assigned her to be the first of four challenges for Robin and Superboy. She says that if they can work together to get past her they can get the Robin ‘R’ and Superboy jacket zipper back.
Nobody then uses her sonic weapon to cause an avalanche. Superboy tries to stop the snow from crushing them with his heat vision but they quickly lose their footing. Luckily Nobody is able to save Robin and Superboy by snowboarding to the bottom of the mountain.
As they get to the bottom of the mountain Robin pins Nobody down and grabs his ‘R’ badge and a map. Robin then hops onto a train and leaves Superboy and Nobody behind.
Superboy thanks Nobody and says he understands what their dads are trying to teach them. Nobody tells Superboy that Robin also understands what is going on and not to give up on him. Superboy takes off after the train while saying his dad taught him to never give up on anyone.
On the train, while Robin is trying to figure out what to do next he sees “TAG” written in large letters on the map. He turns around to see Goliath right behind him. Goliath is able to knock Robin of the train car he was on onto another one that breaks apart.
Superboy suddenly catches up. Robin uses a motorcycle he found and has Superboy join him so they can chase the train.
Robin and Superboy are able to get back on the train. Superboy grabs onto Goliath but uses to much strength. This causes Goliath to fly around wildly with Superboy barely hanging on. Robin is able to get Goliath’s attention with some fish inside the train and traps him inside one of the train cars.
Just when they think they’re safe the train collides with a wall. Superboy thinks quickly and hands Robin a fish to throw into the air. Goliath sees the fish and chases after it and in the process saves Robin and Superboy.
Back in the Batcave, Batman and Alfred see everything that the boys have done. Batman comments on how impressive Superboy resourcefulness is. Superman, who is listening to Batman over a communication channel, says they still have one more chance to work together.
As Goliath is flying the boys well into the night Superboy shares his granola bar with Robin while they watch an Aurora Borealis. Just before they fall asleep Superboy asks Robin if he wants to be like his dad when he grows up. Robin tells Superboy he talks too much. Superboy then wonders if this boot camp is about turning them into brothers-in-arms. Robin says that it’s something worse; they want them to become friends.
The next morning Superboy wakes Robin up to notify him that they are flying into a storm, which is being created by Superman with his super-breath. Robin and Superboy give Goliath two different commands which confuses him. Due to Goliath’s erratic flying both Robin and Superboy lose their grip and fall into a boat carrying trash.
Batman tells Superman to abort as Robin and Superboy have failed once again.
Superman reprimands Robin and Superboy for not working together and says they should’ve used this opportunity to learn that lesson instead of waiting for when the stakes are real. Robin angrily calls out Superman for unfairly using his team (Nobody and Goliath) against him. Superman tells Robin that life isn’t fair and says that their uniforms stand for doing the best with what and who they have to work with.
Superman notices that Superboy seems to be airsick. Superboy tries to play it off but ends up throwing up. Robin calls Superboy a lightweight and immedietly throws. Superman leaves the boys alone, telling them that when they return to the Batcave they’ll figure out what to do about getting their capes back.
Sometime later, Robin and Superboy make their way back to the Batcave but are unable to find Batman or Superman. Superboy notices that Batman has some of the DNA of his villains. Just then a Clayface-like creature appears with Batman, Superman and Alfred as its prisoners. Superman whispers to Batman that this challenge might be too much for the boys but Batman disagrees.
As they are dodging the creature’s attacks Robin and Superboy work together, combining their abilities and powers to chip away at the creature. Superboy ends up freezing the creature and Robin kicks it hard enough to set Batman, Superman and Alfred free.
Later, Alfred congratulates the boys on working together when it mattered most. He then hands them back to their capes even though Batman protests to it. Robin wonders why Alfred is doing that. Alfred says that they proved themselves to be their ‘Super Sons.’
Sometime later, Bruce, Clark, Damien and Jon meet up in Hamilton to cut down some Christmas trees. While the boys decide on who cuts what tree Bruce comments that their fathers would be proud of them. Clark says that boys always end up figuring things out. He then invites Bruce and Damien over for dinner which Bruce accepts.
Damien and Jon suddenly start arguing over who should cut which tree. Jon comments that he should cut the bigger one since he is taller than Damien. This pisses Damien off and the two begin fighting much to Bruce and Clark’s frustration. End of issue.
The Good: Something that I couldn’t stop myself from doing while reading Superman #11 is smiling. Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason hit all the right notes with this issue. Even when you think that they can’t make the series better than it already is they gift us with an issue like Superman #11.
There is a special magic that permeates throughout Superman #11. Everything that happens on each page has a purpose. There is never a point in this issue that you feel as though it was there for filler or that we missed something off screen. Tomasi and Gleason inject so much care to each word spoken by the characters. This care in the dialogue enhances the various action sequences we see play out, giving them added importance.
The interaction between Damien Wayne and Jonathan Kent is the highlight of the story. At this point there is no mystery as to who these two characters are as Robin and Superboy. And that is exactly how Tomasi and Gleason treat us as readers. They know that we know who these two are and we aren’t going to be surprised that they end up clashing in their first meeting. It’s through that understanding that Tomasi and Gleason are able to have fun placing Damien and Jon in different scenarios and environments.
Having the entire issue take place over several challenges set up by Batman and Superman added to the enjoyment. Since no one knows Damien and Jon better than their fathers they were able to place them in scenarios that would challenge their individual comfort zones. At the same time you never felt like Batman and Superman were going too far with the challenges.
While Robin and Superboy ended up failing every challenge except for the last one you could see how each of those failures slowly created their friendship. The scene with Robin and Superboy perfectly summarizes this. It was a very sweet scene that showed us how they were starting to open up to each other. Even Robin for all the resistance he showed had to allow himself to open up slightly to someone that is a potential friend.
Superman #11 is also another showcase for how Tomasi and Gleason’s version of the Man of Steel may be the best written character at DC. Tomasi and Gleason’s Superman speaks and acts with the authority that should be respect. He doesn’t push that respect on to others, instead people just instantly show him that respect. We saw this with Nobody and Goliath, who up to this point never met Superman but instantly followed him because of the trusting aura he gave off.
This all played off extremely well with the secondary plotline of this story with the continued rebuilding of Batman and Superman’s relationship. Just like their sons, you could see in the short bursts of scenes we saw them in that they were building their trust in one another of when they should be stepping in to stop the boot camp.
The payoff to this was excellent as we saw Bruce accept Clark’s offer to have a family dinner in the future. Making the entire ending work even more was the fact that it was done outside of the costumes. This added a much more personal touch to Bruce’s acceptance, made even better by the frustration Bruce and Clark had when Damien and Jon started fighting again.
Patrick Gleason also did a stellar job with the artwork in this issue. Just like the writing, the artwork from beginning to end was packed with highlights of seeing Robin and Superboy in action. The transitions between the various settings Batman and Superman placed their sons in was fantastic. It all felt like one world, without anything looking out of place. Gleason was also able to deliver on the big moments at the end of the issue when we saw Robin and Superboy finally team up followed by Alfred introducing them as Super Sons.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Just as you think that Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason can’t find another way to make Superman even better they gift us an issue like this. Not only is Superman #11 the best issue that came out this week but an example of the type of comic book every creative team should strive to deliver. The development of Batman, Robin, Superman and Superboy was perfectly executed, leading to an excellent payoff. If you aren’t reading Tomasi and Gleason’s Superman changed that right now by purchasing these last two issues. You won’t regret it.