In Superman: Son of Kal-El #1, Tom Taylor and John Timms laid out Jon Kent’s mission statement as “for truth, justice and a better world.” This is exactly where Taylor picks up Kent’s story in Superman: Son of Kal-El #2. In contrast to the common portrayal of Clark Kent, readers find themselves on a journey with a less sure-footed, but more ambitious superhero. This means that this book is asking big questions because Jon is asking big questions.
Taylor doesn’t miss a beat in approaching and analyzing the prominently asked question of, “Why is Superman still relevant today?” He quickly follows up on Jon’s dealing with real-world problems, as his intentions become more and more centered on what he can do to actually help people. This approach wisely avoids introducing colorful supervillains too early, instead opting for focused portrayal of a young man’s yearning to do good in a complicated world.
This point is elucidated further and more effectively when Jon straight up asks these questions of his father. It’s a refreshingly honest look at how even the best of us are fallible, and how the complicated questions of morality can drive divisions in the harshest of places. At least it teases that in the latter part, Jon and Clark’s relationship remains loving, kind and steadfast in an incredibly wholesome way.
A consequence of this unabashedly earnest, and world facing take has been the reality that at a certain pace each one can’t receive the same amount of intention and detail. It leads to moments which should be affecting and consequential, coming off with the smallest amount of an afternoon-special vibe.
Thankfully these are few and far between, as questions about the nature of the modern world are interspersed with Jon’s questions about how he’s going to live his life. How does he make friends as the son of Superman? Is he doomed to have a life in the public eye? How do the answers to those questions affect him and how he lives his daily life?
Furthermore, there are elements of a “news” organization depicted throughout. News is in quotations because it’s not quite clear what Taylor is going for with, “The Truth.” While it seems to fill the role in the story as a positive, humanity-interested news source, it has all the aesthetics of a modern disinformation platform. From the ominous moral platitude it uses as its name, to a host who seems to be attempting a scary persona, to the seeming lack of a governing body attached — it doesn’t seem like it should be trustworthy.
While this could become a really interesting story about the nature of disinformation, and how that affects those specifically who are struggling to make friends, the issue’s ending casts doubt on that direction.
Lastly though, it can’t be underscored enough how likable Taylor’s Jon Kent is. Not just his earnestness in his desire to do good, but the kindness and lack of discouragement he approaches every situation with makes him such an easy to root for hero. He truly is the best parts of both Clark and Lois.
Similar to the last issue, Timms carries more than his weight in this issue. His depiction of Jon embodies every bit of the strong morality, and rigid heroism which Taylor writes him with. So often Jon’s positioning is depicted just perfectly to convey his feelings regarding any certains situation. The way he shrinks low to show compassion to a child, or stands his tallest against the mistreatment of any people by law-enforcement.
These are already becoming commonplace ideas and mannerisms for Jon which makes him a better, more fleshed out character.
Additionally, Timms nails the action throughout the book. Whether it’s Jon’s speed or strength, there’s a consistent depiction of effortlessness which feels only right for a second generation hero. Readers can clearly see the confidence in abilities which only comes from a character having grown up in such a world as Jon’s.
There’s just a completeness to Timms work here which gives it the impression, even just two issues in, of being the iconic artwork for Jon Kent at this age.
Taylor and Timms have nailed almost every shot they’ve taken in these two issues this far. It’s apparent that they have a plan for Jon’s development and readers are on board for that exciting ride. This world is growing, becoming more complicated, and becoming more in need of Superman. Taylor and Timms Superman: Son of Kal-El is the absolute answer to that in universe, and in real life.
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