DC Comics made waves a few weeks ago when they announced Superman aka Jon Kent will be coming out as bisexual in Superman: Son of Kal-El #5. DC likely wanted to get ahead of the news being spoiled, but it certainly piqued the interest of casual fans. It’s out today and it’s a heroic and romantic issue.
This issue opens where we left off last as Superman has been supercharged after falling into a trap set by President Bendix. Superman can now hear every cry for help across the globe, which sets him off to save everyone. It’s an impossible task, but since he’s supercharged he can move faster and help even more people. This is a clever turn in the story by Tom Taylor as we already know Jon is a bit nervous holding up the mantle of his father who left Earth. There’s an emotional reason as well as a physical one since he feels like he can actually do it.
Much of the issue is wonderfully rendered by John Timms who shows how much more powerful Superman is with the visuals. Seeing Superman zip around Luxembourg via streams of red streaks as if the cape makes the head of an arrow and his streak the tail, while in another scene he’s lifting up an entire bridge to transport sick people. The latter shot shows Superman very tiny with a long bridge and multiple cars on top of it hoisted above Metropolis to show how epically strong Superman has become.
That strength comes crashing down visually in a subtle but epic moment when Superman falls to the ground and cracks the street below him. That vulnerability leads to a key scene with Jay who helps Superman get some rest. It’s a moment of empathy and care from Jay towards Superman who typically insists on taking care of himself.
It does come as a bit of a surprise Jon actually thinks he can save everyone. Is it hubris and this newfound boost that makes him think he can do it? You’d think by now he’d have learned you can’t save everyone. There’s a lesson there that isn’t really touched on. As usual with superhero comics, it’s also funny he didn’t think to ask for help from the heroes especially with Flash popping in at one point.
In a key line from Jay that leads to the kiss already revealed by DC Comics, we learn one reason Jay is attractive to Superman is that he doesn’t need saving. He’s one person in the entire world who can keep themselves safe. Given the lives Superman saves in the issue Timms and Taylor’s build towards this moment is one of release and love between Superman and Jay that feels true. It also helps that they seemed to be eyeing each other in previous issues and there’s clearly a connection there.
It’s worth noting the colors are now by Hi-Fi and there’s a slightly brighter feel to the world and characters. There’s a hopefulness that wasn’t quite there before and you can see it in color details in the cape as Superman streaks through the sky, or in the warm glow of the night on Superman as he wakes up in Jay’s apartment.
There’s a vibrancy to Superman: Son of Kal-El you can’t get anywhere else in comics. There’s a hopefulness Superman inspires, a brightness to the art and clever visual ideas.
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