There are new assassins targeting the superhero community. These new assassins have already killed several superheroes. Superman and Nightwing are now on the job to find out who is killing superheroes. Their investigation took them to the front door of LexCorp. We know that Lex Luthor has been working on several fronts to take down heroes like Batman and Superman. Is this latest plot targeting heroes yet another stage in Lex Luthor’s greater plot for the DC Universe? Let’s find out for Superman: Son Of KAl-El #9.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Bruno Redondo
Inker: Bruno Redondo and Wade Von Grawbadger
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: While other heroes are working in pairs Nightwing patrols Metropolis alone over three days in order to bring the superhero assassins attention to him. This works and the assassins attempt to kill Nightwing.
Superman shows up, revealing he flew around the world to trick the assassins into believing he left Metropolis. As this happens President Bendix of Gamorra is shown monitoring the assassins.
Superman and Nightwing proceed to quickly defeat the assassins. Two of the three assassins escape back to LexCorp. When they question the remaining assassin President Bendix activates his self-destruct program. Superman is able shield Nightwing from the explosion.
Noticing that Superman is in a state of shock over the assassin’s death Nightwing gives Superman a hug.
Later, at the Kent home, Dick Grayson talks with Lois Lane about looking out for Jon Kent as Clark asked him to. Before going to check on Jon, Dick recommends Lois join The Truth as they could use her credibility.
Dick then checks on Jon, who is still distraught over the assassin’s death. Dick says that he’s been there and won’t lie that Jon should stop feeling guilty. Dick then talks about understanding the weight of taking on his father’s legacy as when he was Batman he didn’t feel like he earned it but realized that to make it work he had to stop chasing the hero he worshiped and make being Batman his own.
Jon admits that Dick is his hero and that when he was trapped on an unknown planet for five years he wished Nightwing would find him like he did when he was a kid. Dick apologizes for not being their for Jon but is there now to be Jon’s mentor if he likes. Jon happily accepts Dick’s offer.
Jay Nakamura suddenly enters Jon’s room to tell him, Dick, and Lois that Gamorra released footage that makes it look like Superman killed the assassins, who they say is a hero. Dick and Lois tell Jon that they will help Jon so he shouldn’t feel he is going to do this alone. End of issue.
The Good: Superman: Son of Kal-El #9 is not necessarily a conclusion to a story. Rather it reveals that this crossover with Nightwing was actually a prelude to enter this series into the next phase of Taylor’s plans for Jon Kent as Superman. That is not a bad thing as Taylor’s focus on the dynamic between Dick Grayson and Jon Kent shines throughout Superman: Son of Kal-El #9. Though the way it all ends does make you wonder if this crossover was intended to be longer than two parts.
Picking up where Nightwing #89 left off Taylor is able to quickly establish the stakes of this story about assassins targeting the superhero community. Jon Kent’s opening monologue is able to frame why we aren’t seeing other heroes now targeted as we learn that everyone is paired up. That allows Superman and Nightwing to make their plan to get the assassins attention on Nightwing as the only hero seemingly working along work.
Especially considering that we learn that these assassins work for not just Lex Luthor but President Bendix of Gamorra, the mistake made pushes the greater narrative Taylor is working with in his Superman run. As we’ve seen with Superman’s interference with Bendix plans that the politician is now being forced into the role of being a villain. Because this is new to him Bendix isn’t able to see through when he is obviously being played. At the same time, Bendix is able to show some flexibility with how he turned the tables by now making it look like Superman is the superhero killer through manipulating recorded footage.
This development helps to push the narrative of Jon still learning to deal with being Superman. Which makes Dick Grayson stepping up to fill the role of mentor as he was asked by Clark Kent work so well. Moreso than any other character in the DCU, Dick knows what it is like to take on the role of his father and mentor. Bringing the continuity of Dick’s time as Batman helped to show how he was approaching Jon as equals rather than as someone who was just looking to lecture Jon.
Relating their experiences in this way made how Jon opened up to Dick come across as a natural progression to their quickly established relationship. Taylor is able to work into how Dick is a big brother figure and that is the approach he will be taking as Jon happily accepted him as a mentor. Having a hero who has lived with carrying his father’s legacy and creating his own opens a lot of possibilities for both Jon and Dick’s mentor-protégé relationship to be worked in as a sub-plot in both series’.
Bruno Redondo continues to impress with every comic book he draws and Superman: Son of Kal-El #9 was no different. He nails how Nightwing moves in motion. Also it is great seeing how he is able bring back Nightwing’s costume glider ability in a fun way that shows how it works. Redondo also nails how big of a moment Nightwing hugging Superman was as the former recognized what the latter needed in that moment of despair.
The Bad: There isn’t much of a resolution to the story involving the superhero murders. Even the defeat of the assassins felt hollow since two of the three escaped without Superman or Nightwing showing that they did that on purpose. They just went back to LexCorp that just further pointed how this crossover ended incomplete.
It was also disappointing that after making such a big deal that LexCorp was involved that we didn’t see Lex Luthor in Superman: Son of Kal-El #9. With how big of a deal it is that Lex is working this angle along with what he attempted to do with Batman Inc it was a missed opportunity to not show him on screen. It would’ve made Bendix continued growth as a villain stronger if Lex is shown being involved.
Overall: Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo maximize the potential of what the dynamic between Dick Grayson and Jon Kent is with the conclusion of this crossover in Superman: Son of Kal-El #9. The interaction between the two fortifies the strong bond the two now have as Jon Kent has found the mentor he needs in Dick Grayson. Though the incomplete nature of the plot around the superhero murders does make it feel like the crossover between Nightwing and Superman concluded before it reached its full potential.