What makes Superman so super? It’s a question that Tom Taylor answers in a few different ways in Superman: Son of Kal-El #3, which is out today in comic book shops. This is a book about Superman’s son and hanging over it is the knowledge Jon has from the future that Superman will leave and never come back. That’s a lot of pressure on Jon to do the right thing, and in this issue, he does that not through strength, speed, or flight, but by his actions.
This issue opens with a skyscraper literally toppling in Metropolis. Superman and Jon come to the rescue, but Superman’s reduced abilities make this rescue a little out of the ordinary. Instead of placing the building somewhere safe, Superman struggles to keep it from falling. This allows Jon the chance to be the hero by saving everyone inside in a spectacular page with the layout tilting as if it’s the building and each panel is a room. That’s one example of how Superman can be a hero.
This issue also introduces a new character that’s not a villain, nor a hero, but is causing some trouble. Both Jon and Superman realize this and even though she could have just accidentally killed hundreds, the two Supermen bring her to where she can be helped. That’s another example of how Superman can be super.
Things also get political in this issue, which reveals how Superman does the right thing even if it means hurting your public image or being thrown in jail. Every story beat in this issue seems to connect to the pure-of-heart nature of Superman and how helping others who can’t help themselves is the most important thing to do. It’s evident from the very first page Taylor understands the idea of Superman, making this one of the strongest depictions of the character in some time.
John Timms’ art continues to be a blessing as far as the purity of these characters, but also the sleek and their cool superhero look. The capes look fabulous, either standing still, flying, sitting, or even walking. It’s not an easy thing to do, and you can see how the capes have a life of their own in a great full-page splash midway through the book. The layout structure mentioned earlier with the building toppling over is a great example of how much detail Timms puts into the page. Rubble is flying right at the reader, covering gutters, and adding another layer of chaos to a tense moment.
Story progression is also well done here, like in a scene with Jon taking a stand politically. As he takes action, a panel cuts to a darkened angle of his back as if to convey a bit of hopelessness, creating a courageous element to his actions. The very next page pushes in on Jon as he gives an emotional speech that conveys a sense of weight to his words that then changes to another kind of shot entirely as we see someone watching him. The book always seems to move from panel to panel and page to page with an easy grace.
Timms is backed up by Gabe Eltaeb on colors and Dave Sharpe on letters. There’s a brightness and hopeful feel thanks to the color usage, even when the book turns to a night scene in the second half. The lettering is clean and suits the style Timms lays down with great word balloon placement. The full-page splash cliffhanger page is a culmination of the art, story, and lettering coming together nicely. The “Krrrroooooooommm” adds a destructive quality that creates even more of a question mark on the finality of what could have happened.
DC Comics’ Superman: Son of Kal-El is plain good comics. It blends the utter truths of what makes Superman great with good art, multiple scenes that connect well with the character, and visual storytelling that’s pleasing. There’s a lot to enjoy here, making for a highly satisfying read.
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