Superman: Son of Kal-El is coming off a Nightwing crossover and a major loss. Gamorra’s president has a plot that seems foolproof and it’s even more airtight thanks to Lex Luthor helping his cause. Superman may have a band of young heroes to back him up called The Truth, but what good are they if entire governments can sway public opinion? In “Reputation”, Jon Kent faces a large hole to climb out of as he tries to find new reasons to have hope.
The wheels are turning ever faster in this latest issue as Tom Taylor and Cian Tormey progress the plot involving Lex, Henry Bendix, and Jon Kent’s time as Superman. He’s doing his best and trying to save everyone, but in this issue, he faces an even harder task of saving everyone while many have grown to hate him.
The footage is being shown across the globe of Superman seemingly not saving a city from a flood and letting another superhero die. That’s far from the truth, but Gamorra’s president knows that truth doesn’t matter in an information war. The opening quarter of the book focuses on that backlash and Jon’s reaction to it. He still saves people — he has to with his father off-world for god knows how long — and he soon comes face to face with a victim who fears him even as he’s trying to save him and his daughter.
Reading between the lines, there’s an interesting message here about what we believe and how good intentions can sour. That’s the first half of the book, which is beautifully drawn by Tormey and colored by Federico Blee.
In one key double-page layout, we get to see Lex pontificate and we see the struggles of Superman behind him as if in a dream. He’s waving his arms about like a good politician and we know he’s lying. It’s a sequence of panels we can relate to since we’ve seen it on TV plenty of times before.
The second half of this issue largely revolves around Superman’s mom, Lois Lane. She pops into the story being the hero we all know she is and that leads to a major revelatory moment between Lois and her son. The cleverness of Lois aside–and she comes off as a powerhouse in this issue–the moment I won’t spoil is heartfelt and deeply moving. It’s a scene that may resonate with many queer people and it’s yet another moment in this series that is empowering and gives readers hope.
This scene is played up very well with great acting from the characters by Tormey. It leads to a wonderful full-page splash that deserves every inch of the page. For some reason, Jon comes off as a bit more adult in this issue than in previous issues. He’s a bit more certain, say when he saves his mom from an attack, or when he accepts a hug. You can see Tormey is trying to show us the little boy we once knew is growing up and that’s just swell.
The only negative I can find with this issue is the cliffhanger. If you’ve been reading my reviews you’ll know I anticipated this turn of events, which makes it less impactful and less of a shock. Instead of going, “oh my god wow,” I muttered, “okay, get on with it.”
If you’re looking for hope, you won’t find it in a better place than Superman: Son of Kal-El #10. The story progresses nicely in this issue, developing Jon as a whole person and blending in real-world dangers like fake news. Superman: Son of Kal-El is unexpectedly beautiful, poignant, and meaningful.
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