One of my favorite comic books that DC Comics has published was Super Sons by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. With how strong of a chemistry Jon Kent and Damian Wayne built as best friends its been very unfortunate that with Jon’s aging up to young adult and becoming Superman that the Super Sons don’t team up anymore. Luckily Peter Tomasi is back to feed fans with a new Super Sons one-shot titled Superman & Robin Special. This will be the first extended team-up between Jon and Damian since the former became Superman. How will their dynamic go with everything they’ve been through since their last team-up? Let’s find out with Superman & Robin Special.
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Viktor Bogdanovic
Inkers: Daniel Henriques, Scott Hanna, Viktor Bogdanovic, and Matt Santorelli
Colorists: Ivan Plascencia and Matt Herms
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: While Jon Kent and Lois Lane are still getting used to the years they missed of Jon’s childhood together Jon does his best to relax. After Lois leaves for an assignment Robin (Damian Wayne) breaks in and tells Jon about the alarm at the Fortress of Solitude being set off.
After suiting up Superman and Robin, who “borrows” his father’s Hellbat armor, fly to the Fortress of Solitude. On their way they catch up with what they’ve each got going on (this issue takes place between Superman: Son Of Kal-El #1 and Superman: Son Of Kal-El #2 and after Robin #3).
At the Fortress of Solitude Superman finds the temporal cube he and his father that accidently transported them to Dinosaur Island (takes place in 2016’s Superman #8-9) has been activated. As they make sure the bottle city of Kandor isn’t broken a creature that came out of the temporal cube. Superman and Robin initially struggle with knocking out the creature but eventually are able to hit him with enough tranquilizer darts to cause it to pass out.
Suddenly the temporal cube activates and opens a portal that an army of Nazis storm out of it. Superman and Robin suit up in a Krypton armor and Hellbat armor to quickly defeat the Nazi army and drive them back through the portal.
Superman and Robin then find that the creature has woken up. They check on it and notice the creature was just trying to protect is baby. Superman and Robin are able to safely activate the temporal cube to send the creature and their baby back to their home.
Later, Jon and Damian admit that they miss hanging out with each other. Having both said this they reaffirm that they’ll always be the Super Sons. End of issue.
The Good: Superman & Robin Special was exactly what it needed to be. Peter Tomasi already knew that Jon Kent and Damian Wayne share a natural chemistry that can’t be match by many duos. That chemistry is exactly what shines throughout this issue.
The opening of Superman & Robin Special addressing the current status quo of Jon Kent was a good start. Tomasi does a great job complimenting the work by Tom Taylor in Superman: Son of Kal-El by delving into how Jon is still trying to figure out being a young adult. Lois Lane bringing up how she lost eight years of Jon’s childhood to spend together is a reminder of how quickly Jon was forced to grow-up. Even though he is now 18 years old there is a whole childhood that Jon was previously enjoying living that was taken because of how he was aged up. Lois showing compassion for how Jon’s way of relaxing is watching shows he watched as kid was great character work.
It set-up well how Jon went back to just being a normal person as soon as Damian Wayne appeared. It speaks to the close connection Jon and Damian have as true best friends that Jon just automatically goes back into their Super Sons dynamic. From Damian calling out Jon for how he has become a “grandpa” to Jon commenting on what he learns about the Lazarus Tournament Damian is participating in, their friendship shines. It all done in a natural way that makes both Jon and Damian the most relatable versions of their characters as we all have at least one friend that we just automatically hangout mode.
The dynamic between Jon and Damian made the monster-of-the-week story with the creature that came out of temporal cube in the Fortress of Solitude a lot of fun. And it was fun because their solution wasn’t simply to fight the creature that appeared. Rather they were trying to tame it, understanding that it is coming from another world and is likely confused. Which makes using the tranquilizer darts rather than straight up fighting it work so much better.
The use of the Hellbat armor and Krypton armor by Superman and Robin was a cool addition. We know that Superman and Robin could’ve taken down the Nazi army without them. But to both be efficient and just cool with a different type of battle sequence the armor that Superman and Robin war just elevated things. It gets back into how they really are kids at heart and what is cooler than fighting together in armored suits.
Which all made the ending of Superman & Robin Special ending with Jon and Damian reaffirming the fact they will always be the Super Sons a nice touch. They were both able to be honest with each other in a way they aren’t with anyone else. In the process they are able address how even with Jon being aged up to be Superman and Damian going down an unknown path as Robin they will always be friends.
The Bad: The artwork for Superman & Robin Special by Viktor Bogdanovic was just fine. It was nowhere near as strong as I’ve seen past artwork by Bogdanovic. A major part of that is how many different inkers and colorists working on this issue there are. It causes a lot of inconsistencies with the pacing as the Jon and Damian appear to change with each passing page.
Overall: If you are a Super Sons fan than Superman & Robin Special #1 is a must read. Peter Tomasi does not a miss a beat when it comes to the special dynamic Jon Kent and Damian Wayne share as best friends. It was so much fun just seeing these two interact with each other that makes even an average of monster-of-the-week adventure enjoyable because of their dynamic. Hopefully we don’t have to wait to long before we get more team-up stories with Jon and Damian in the future.