Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s Superman series has been one the gems of DC Comics since Rebirth began. Outside of mini-series like American Alien and Geoff Johns’ run I haven’t read a Superman comic on a consistent basis. The New 52 didn’t make things any better as we have had a Superman that I could not connect with whatsoever the last few years. But now with the classic Superman, who is married to Lois Lane and has a son in Jon Kent, there is a Man of Steel I can get behind. This latest arc with Superman and Superboy heading to Dinosaur Island should deliver some quality father-son time. Let’s see if that is the case with Superman #8.
Writers: Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Jaime Mendoza
Colorist: Wil Quintana
Synopsis: At the Fortress of Solitude Jon is building a flying saucer for his science fair project. Clark reminds his son to not use the flying saucer to invade others privacy as they want their’s respected as well.
Jon finishes his flying saucer and decides to test it out. As it flies away Jon remembers he forgot to program it. Jon orders Krypto to get the flying saucer before it hits the Crystal Font in the Fortress.
Krypto gets it as it lands on the Crystal Font. When Jon goes to grab it out of Krypto’s mouth Superman realizes that the flying saucer assimilated some of the Fortress crystals. As Job tries to take it from Krypto the flying saucer breaks with only a floating cube left. A dome of energy suddenly envelopes Clark, Jon and Krypto.
Superman and Superboy open their eyes and they find themselves on an island with a broken boat on the beach in front of them. Superman spots the cube from Superboy’s science project. The two with Krypto go after it but are soon attacked by a large sea creature. The sea creature eats Superman, who pushed Superboy and Krypto out of the way.
Inside the creature Superman is about to use his heat vision but finds its heart. Superman touches the heart which causes the creature to react.
Outside Superboy wonders why his father hasn’t punched his way out. The creature suddenly resurfaces and spits out Superman. Superboy wonders how his father got out without killing the creature. Superman responds by saying he had a “heart-to-heart” conversation with it.
Superman, Superboy and Krypto go inspect the broken ship on the beach. As they inspect it Superman notices a crashed American tank and Japanese plane nearby with bodies of dead soldiers around the area.
Superman then has Superboy jump on his back and the three fly above the island to scope out the area.
As they are in the air a group of pterodactyl attack them. One of pterodactyl is able to grab Superboy by his cape and fly away. While Superman fights of the group of pterodactyl behind them he sends Krypto after Superboy.
Krypto is able to force the pterodactyl to let go of Superboy. As the two fight it one of the other pterodactyls eats Krypto. Superboy leaps at the pterodactyl that ate Krypto and knocks it to the ground with a punch. As he does this Superboy forgets that he still can’t fly but lucky for him Superman is able to catch him.
Superman and Superboy go to check on the pterodactyl that is on the ground. When they do Krypto walks out of the pterodactyl’s mouth without a scratch.
As they regroup Superman notices that the pterodactyl they were fighting are flying away from them.
The trio soon find the bones of T-Rex. Superman inspects the corpse and finds dog tags for a pilot named John Cloud on the ground. Krypto finds some graves and alerts Superman and Superboy to them.
Superman then takes Superboy and Krypto up a mountain to continue their investigation. At the top of the mountain they find a cave with military weapons set up outside it.
As Superman goes to explore the cave Superboy finds something on a wall. Superman shines his heat vision on the wall to find a soldier’s story written on it called “This Is The Story Of The Losers.” End of issue.
The Good: After a one-shot story that showed us the best aspect of this series Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason continue that trend by spotlighting Superman and Superboy’s relationship. In showcasing the father-son dynamic between the two we get more progression as to what this series is.
Kicking off the issue with Superman spending quality time with his son as Superboy finishes up his school project was a good tone setter. It was a quick way for Tomasi and Gleason to establish after the family-centric issue of the previous issue that they want to give some time for Superman and Superboy together. This is a nice change for this series as we have seen plenty of Superman with Lois and Lois with Superboy in previous issue but we haven’t had a lot of just father-son scenes thus far.
By focusing on his relationship with his son we got to see a Superman we actually haven’t seen very often. Because for as long as Superman has been around the one role we haven’t seen him in is that as a father and mentor. It’s something that we have seen plenty of from Batman as the mentor and father-figure of various Robins and Batgirls but it is something new for Superman. Even with Kon-El and Supergirl around Superman never really took on that role Batman did as he let his Superman Family members be on their own or find others to be with as a team.
So now that we get a Superman that is actively taking a role in helping his son as Jon Kent and Superboy there is fresh feeling to the character. Even Superman reminding Superboy not to use his flying saucer to invade others privacy was a good way of showing us how he is trying to instill his values on his son. This type of teaching continued throughout the issue as Superman answered all of Superboy’s questions as they explored the Dinosaur Island. And it wasn’t just what Superman said but how it was said that made Superman feel more like a mentor trying to teach his protégé lessons.
Credit to Tomasi and Gleason for how they used the setting of Dinosaur Island to accomplish all of this. Because with a story involving a location such as Dinosaur Island it could’ve been very easy to go down the route of silly father-son comedy. Instead Tomasi and Gleason thought of how this first adventure of Superman and Superboy would play out and how they can use it to further the father-son dynamic.
While the focus was on Superman and Superboy’s relationship Tomasi and Gleason made sure to also work in Superboy’s relationship with Krypto throughout the issue. Tomasi and Gleason are doing a great job in making Krypto an important part of this series without overexposing him. Krypto is the loyal dog that every family wants to have and seeimg Krypto going out to save Superboy from a pterodactyl showed that loyalty. Superboy’s own reaction to Krypto being eaten also humanizes him as a kid who was desperate to save his best friend.
The dinosaur-filled adventure was also a good change of pace from the opening arc in this series. As much as I ended up enjoying the Eradicator arc it was too similar to what was happening over in Action Comics. By adding in dinosaurs and abandoned military equipment Tomasi and Gleason were able to make this story feel different from every other Superman story currently going. The mystery behind the “This Is The Story Of The Losers” writing that Superman and Superboy find at the end of this issue give us an intriguing mystery to follow. And that is something we don’t see Superman have to solve in his comics very often as these odd mystery angle is usually reserved for characters like Booster Gold.
On the art side of things, Doug Mahnke is the perfect person to be drawing Superman’s Dinosaur Island adventure. Mahnke does a perfect job making Dinosaur Island feel like a dangerous place. The way he draws the action-sequence between Superman, Superboy and Krypto against the pterodactyls was a lot of fun to see. He gave it a sense of danger with how much larger he drew the pterodactyl than the Superman Family even though we all knew Superman would punch his way to victory.
The Bad: Nothing
Overall: Superman #8 was another enjoyable entry in what is one of DC Comics best ongoing series. Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason and Doug Mahnke team-up to deliver on the exact type of fun I want to have with reading comic books. The exploration of Superman’s relationship with his son has added an extra layer to the Man of Steel that hasn’t been explored before in-depth. It’s a relationship that anyone can easily get behind and I look forward to how father and son continue their adventure on Dinosaur Island.