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Tom Taylor talks endings, beginnings in 'Superman: Son of Kal-El' #18

Comic Books

Tom Taylor talks endings, beginnings in ‘Superman: Son of Kal-El’ #18

The series winds up as it leads into the events of the extra-sized ‘Action Comics’ #1050

It’s the end of an era for Jon Kent.

With its 18th issue, Superman: Son of Kal-El officially comes to a close. The series (from writer Tom Taylor and artists Cian Tormey, Ruairi Coleman, and Romulo Fajardo Jr.) has made waves over the last year-and-a-half, including when Jon came out as bisexual during issue #5. But it’s been about more than mere “controversy” — the series offered us fresh insights into the Superman mythos and allowed us to see Jon evolve into his own person and proper superhero.

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But issue #18 proves to be quite the ending. On the one hand, it builds further toward the upcoming giant-sized Action Comics #1050, which wraps up every other Superman title and once more brings the focus on the age old Superman-Lex Luthor rivalry. As for Jon, he gets entangled with a new enemy and makes time for more father-son bonding that’s vital for the story to come. In short, it’s just more of what made this series great.

And, of course, all great endings mean a new beginning; Jon’s tale continues in March’s Adventures of Superman: Jon Kent, which brings our young hero into contact with a massive threat. It’s just one of the many topics we discussed during our recent call with Taylor to commemorate issue #18’s release. We also talked about his favorite moments, how this series leads to Action #1050, and his personal relationship with Jon. Plus, could there be a future for a Taylor-written story beyond Adventures of Superman?

Spoilers ahead for both each series mentioned above. 

DC Preview: Superman: Son of Kal-El #18

Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: When you’re writing this issue, did you write it as an ending, or maybe a pivot into something else?

Tom Taylor: I think more than anything, was I was writing this as a lead into Action Comics #1050, So when there’s something that happens in #1050 — and we’ve divulged already that the Supermans are going to get their identity back. But we’ve been we’ve been seeding this idea that Lex Luthor is creating something called Project Blackout, which is taking pieces of Philip [Kennedy Johnson’s] story in action and my story in Son of Kal-El, That’ll be culminating in Action #1050, but it’s being used against the Supermans in a really heinous way.

So I think I was writing it with that in mind, but also, knowing that yes, what’s coming up in Adventures of Superman: Jon Kent is still very much coming. It’s a pivot point for Action more than for Adventures. So then what we see at the end of Action #1050 is the moment that is going to launch Adventures of Superman. And that is…it’s just huge. I think I can actually talk about it. Nick [Valente, a DC PR rep] gave me the OK, so if you’d like me to talk about it.

AIPT: God, yes.

TT: It’s that the Kal-Els are being murdered across the multiverse by Ultraman. And Val-Zod comes to the Earth because Jon Kent is one of the only people who can stop him. But for Jon, it’s Ultraman; the man that kept him in a volcano and who tortured him and who stole his childhood from him. So he’s going to face him to save all of these “multiverse dads,” essentially. But it’s a much bigger story. There are aspects of this I can’t talk about yet. There’s somebody else involved, who’s working with Val-Zod that we won’t reveal until the end of issue #1. And then there’s something coming at the end of issue #2 that will this this entire thing. And everybody’s going to be talking about it.

But I’m so excited to be working on that book.

Tom Taylor talks endings, beginnings in 'Superman: Son of Kal-El' #18

Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: Now that I’m excited for.

The Jon we’ll see in the Adventures of Superman, how is he different? Did you approach him markedly different?

TT: I think he’s he’s still the same person. But he’s taking everything he learned those 18 issues. He’s really found himself in those 18 issues. But also, we have to challenge it. What’s coming and Adventures of Superman challenges him in a way like nothing has before. And we’ve seen his growth over those 18 issues, but we’ve also seen a Superman who isn’t violent. I mean in 18 issues, he punches one person, and that was that was an accident. But the fact that he has been the most powerful person on the planet, but also non-violent, we’ve made him as inspirational and we’ve also just tried to help him save people constantly.

I think that’s the ideal for Superman — that he just does help whoever needs him. You know, it wasn’t just him who overthrew a dictatorship. It was his boyfriend, Jay. It was the Revolutionaries. It was people who had ties to this place, because Jon doesn’t want to walk into there and be a dictator and be the person that takes this person down. He wants to support the people who are already doing the work. He’s somebody who can’t turn a blind eye to this stuff. The first thing that sparked all of this was him saving a boatload of Gamorran refugees when no one else would. And so, yes, the ramifications of that is part of the world was very angry with him. He upset a lot of people, but that’s the kind of hero he is. He doesn’t worry about that. He doesn’t worry about who he’s going to upset politically when there are people who need him now.

Superman

Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: Absolutely.

One of the moments I love in issue #18 is that, he or his dad, basically say, ‘You’re a hero now because you’ve got a nemesis.’ And he’s going to go back every week to try and win him over.

TT: Yeah, he’s not willing to give up on anyone. He’s not willing to just accept that someone will hate him. He will keep working out and he will still talk to him. And, also, he feels sorry for him. He doesn’t see him as a nemesis. He doesn’t see him as somebody who hates him. He sees him as someone who’s in pain, and who’s grieving for the parents he loss, and who has a genuine reason to dislike John, but it’s because he doesn’t know who Jon is. He doesn’t know Jon the person. And John’s doesn’t give up on people, and doesn’t just accept that that he’s always going to be in conflict with someone when he feels that he can repair that.

AIPT: I think the biggest theme is that it’s easy to fly at Mach 5 and punch people in the face. But it’s hard to reason with someone who clearly has an agenda. But his best superpower, not to be too hokey, is his approach to the world, yeah?

TT: Yeah, without a doubt, he’s his biggest superpower is his empathy. It’s the fact that he doesn’t stop helping, and that he doesn’t give up. And that he literally, he genuinely, wants to try to change the world for the better. He doesn’t just want to attack the problems.

AIPT: Do you feel, in these 18 issues, that you’ve accomplished what you wanted to? Do you feel like you’ve had a kind of a definitive statement about this character and the kind of bigger ideals that he represents?

TT: I think he’s ideals are on the page. But I think the character is still growing. You know, he was taken as a child, and he’s come back. And there’s still a lot of that child in there. So he’s still got a lot of growing to do. Obviously, he’s grown up in a lot of ways. He’s 17; he’s got a boyfriend and he’s faced the world. He’s faced the worst of the media. He’s faced propaganda against him. And so he’s had to step up and do a lot. But I think he’s still got a lot of growing to do. And you’re going to see him continually tested as a character in the DC universe — he’s going to continue to grow. And the readers get to experience that.

Superman

Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: Do you have a favorite moment of this run? Something that speaks volumes about what you’ve done from a narrative standpoint?

TT: There’s a lot of moments like that. I think the moment when he first stepped into a forest fire, to hug a guy whose powers were out of control because of his own anxiety, and it was because of his own fear. And he just hugs him and calms him down. He doesn’t attack the problem. He sees these people attacking what they see as a problem and he steps between them. And then he hugs the guy and he calms him down. And his anxiety decreases and his powers go down and the fire stops and the raging flame stops. I think that really shows who John is.

But there are so many moments in the story, obviously. I mean, we made global news last year when he and Jay kissed. And you know the importance of that — it seems simple that he’s just kissing a guy on the couch. Yeah, but you can’t understate the importance of Superman symbol. And what that represents and that the most powerful man on the planet is bisexual is huge. And, actually, I genuinely love Jon and Jay’s relationship. I love that they kissed in front of the entire world’s media and all these cameras in their civilian identities.

These are important statements. I love that he saved refugees…that there was a boatload of refugees drowning, and no country on the planet wants to touch it because they didn’t want to upset a powerful nation. And he just went, ‘No, those people need me. So I’m going to help.’ And he’s done that time and time again in our run. I just think that’s who he is.

AIPT: We’ve obviously still got Adventures of Superman to read. But beyond that, can we expect from Jon stories from you? Is he always going to be your “baby?”

TT: Look, he’s not my baby; he belongs to everybody. What he represents and how important he is to people.

Superman

Courtesy of DC Comics.

I was stopped in a supermarket in Melbourne yesterday by someone talking about him, and how far he’s gone and and what he’s become and how important he is to so many people means. I’m just the guy lucky enough to write him currently. But certainly his story will go on.

The six-issue miniseries is a mini-series for a reason that you’ll find out at the end of issue #2. There’s a big twist to come exactly where we’re playing with that book. But, yes, his role is going to increase in DC Comics. I mean, we were talking about his role in other places right now. Just having quiet conversations in the background, and so I can’t talk too much about it yet.

Jon’s had a huge impact on the global stage, and also in the DC universe. Even in what Josh [Williamson] has been doing with him in Dark Crisis. And the stuff with Damian and his mentorship with Nightwing — that’s going to continue as well. So, he has a very big role to play, and it will go on and it won’t always be me. And I understand that. But, yes, OK, he’s my baby. I’ve had to father him a little bit for you know — I’ve had the honor of doing that for a few years, but other people will take him out for adventures, too.

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