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'Sinister Sons' #3 needed fewer space whales and more quality time

Comic Books

‘Sinister Sons’ #3 needed fewer space whales and more quality time

This third issue complicates the friendship — and not in the ways you’d want.

Maybe it’s because I had a lonely childhood with few and/or iffy friendships, but Sinister Sons has been important enough to me thus far. While writer Peter J. Tomasi was clearly trying to do something novel enough with the pairing of Sinson and Lor, the book similarly harkens back to the poignant exploration of growing up and friendship from Super Sons.

The only issue, then, is that the Lor-Sinson dynamic has been a little tenuous at best. The two burgeoning supervillains haven’t had too much quality time to test their burgeoning partnership, and while the initial spark is there, we just didn’t really have enough to go off of to discern if they could be the new (but different) Super Sons.

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And with issue #3 of Sinister Sons, we get heaps more evidence — for both the better and worse.

At the end of issue #2, the duo found themselves confronted by a strange foe while stuck in the massive belly of space whale. In issue #3, we learn who that figure is and a little of the lore of our massive star-hopping whale. I’d made a comment in an earlier review how, to an extent, the pair needed to engage with the world together to really test the strength and scope of their relationship. So if nothing else, our new “player” does offer that, and when combined with the whale bits, it feels like Lor and Sinson are stepping into a really fun and inventive part of the DC universe. That’s not only a really lively space to play around with, but it does wonders to give the boys their own corner to inhabit without furthering aping any other books.

The issue, then, is that I just don’t think the Sinister Sons’ “new friend” is ultimately helping matters. Without revealing too much of the story (I’ll say it’s like intergalactic Moby-Dick/the story of Job and leave it at that), this third party highlights and exemplifies a split between Lor and Sinson that feels really irksome to an extent. Yes, it does give us a proper dynamic to go off — Lor is clearly in the Damian Wayne role here, and he’s stubborn and spoiled and generally someone with a lot of learning to do. Sinson, meanwhile, is much more like Jon Kent: thoughtful and considerate, he’s trying to use his brain to make it through a nasty universe.

Sinister Sons

Courtesy of DC Comics.

But it’s the mere fact that Lor and Sinson stick so close to the Super Sons “archetypes” that feels so bothersome. This book is meant to be different, and the first real demonstration and test of their partnership just feels so awfully familiar. It’s fun and entertaining, and the exact kind of formula that makes this kind of story so compelling. Yet it seemingly ignores the fact they’re markedly different and also villains, and that alone feels like the book is Super Sons Part Two and not this new, more measured new thing. Their dynamic ignores the fact that they’re sort of meant to be nasty, and we get a rehashing of one kid seemingly trying to make the other kid better. Now, I don’t want to celebrate bad guys, but if DC has done anything right in recent years, it’s showcasing villains with measure and intent (see Kneel Before Zod and The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing).

I couldn’t help but feel like Lor and Sinson were still having this profound disconnect, and while they were pitted against one another to address that gap, what we got felt like it just didn’t honor the spirit of these two interesting young characters. Or, that part of their dynamic was focused on trying to make them something they’re not, when all I want them to be is their nasty selves. It’s that marriage of youth and the potential for wrongdoing that makes following their development so potent in the first place. But what we got was just another story I already like and not a new one I think I could fall for just as easily.

Fortunately, a lot of this is countered by the visuals (courtesy of artist Vasco Georgiev and colorist Tamra Bonvillain). I’d mentioned already how much of this book’s design has been really inviting and compelling. The robust colors and cartoonish vibes have been a great way to capture the brevity and joy of this book, and how it’s both setting this book in a novel space while giving us the sheer energy and intensity we’d want from what’s a rocket ship ride into the strangeness of maturity.

Sinister Sons

Courtesy of DC Comics.

And that remains the same in this third issue. The inside of the whale, for instance, continues to be perfectly weird — a gross little playground for these two would-be villains to test their mettle and to see what kind of hijinks they might expect as they mature into their respective “careers.” And Bonvillain’s colors, especially, are just so great — they’re big and bold and bright in every way you’d want, and they also extend and heighten the work that Georgiev is trying to balance some kid-friendly vibes and still build a world that’s exciting for even old comics heads. But there’s something new in issue #3 that’s somehow even more exciting than all of that.

It’s maybe a bit more subtle, but there’s a kind of aggression and overt physicality here that feels interesting. It’s found mostly in the way our aforementioned “new friend” engages with both Lor and Sinson — it’s a violence and disregard that feels like a really deliberate counter to both the book’s visual feel and those sometimes half-cocked interpersonal relationships. It’s the kind of sharp disregard from one character to another that manages to 1) present the boys with real odds and tension and 2) may act as the catalyst to bringing them together in a way that the storyline/narrative/dialogue can’t always fully muster. Lor especially feels the “wrath,” and it’s a way to give him the conflict and incongruity he needs to question himself.

Sinister Sons #3

Courtesy of DC Comics.

Sure, the storyline tries to do that, but the physicality does so in a way that doesn’t lean into Super Sons and instead makes this book feel all the more groundbreaking. And by groundbreaking, I mean giving us conflict and really cutting into the Lor-Sinson “friendship” to see what a little blood can do to push its parameters. Again, it’ subtle, but it felt like an edge this book needs at this point.

So, yes, I’ve got some concerns after issue #3 of Sinister Sons. It’s not developing the way I’d thought, and I feel like this friendship is testing my patience rather than the patience of Lor and Sinson. Still, there’s enough upsides here — the storyline for sure, but most certainly the art/visuals — that I’ll keep going for now. The thing about being a lonely kid is that you always try to make friends even if the situation isn’t ideal. The hope is that it all just clicks because it’s better to have a lowkey jerk than nobody one at all. But in the case of Sinister Sons, changes need to happen or I’ll be better off playing alone instead.

'Sinister Sons' #3 needed fewer space whales and more quality time
‘Sinister Sons’ #3 needed fewer space whales and more quality time
Sinister Sons #3
Despite looking great, 'Sinister Sons' can't really get on the same page long enough to make this core friendship a thing.
Reader Rating1 Votes
The book's design continues to be a mix of wonderful fun and a novel slice-of-life.
There’s potential galore to this story of would-be supervillains.
The book now feels a little too close to the 'Super Sons' story/title.
We're not respecting the boys' status as would-be supervillains.
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