Writer: Peter J Tomasi / Artists: Mick Gray, Patrick Gleason / DC Comics
I’m a sucker for stories with strong character investment; it’s what’s kept me attached to shows like LOST even when I knew full well the ship was going down in logic-defying flames (a church though?!). Luckily for us Tomasi’s writing brings the best of both options in this issue as our narrative continues to expertly land in that sweet intersection between awe-inspiring heroics and tender family interactions.
What I love best about this series so far is not that Clark is the perfect father and husband, but that his powers serve as extensions of his personality and therefore his kindness and love. Yes, Superman is protecting a submarine in the arctic with his bare hands, but this is also a person who summarizes this feat as “just doing my job.” You immediately understand that the purpose of bringing Jon to “work” isn’t to show off muscle, but how graciously to interact with people who may not have the same abilities as you— and yet are no lesser of beings for it.
I will say it again and again, Superman isn’t “super” because of his quasi-deity status, but because of his incredible restraint and sincere yearning for truth and equality. Perhaps even more amazing is how the artwork allows the reader to share Jon’s experience. Even when under unexpected attack, Superman offers us more than mere brute strength, but rather a gentle haven that is so hard to find in our tumultuous and violent world.
Of course, Tomasi also remains intentional about not letting us forget the equally if not more difficult task of being the only full human in this household. Lois’ sharp wit and warm sensitivity help to balance and ground her husband’s sometimes boundless optimism in a way that doesn’t undercut him as with the stereotypical sitcom wife. A no-nonsense problem solver from the beginning, our ace reporter makes it clear that Jon might be the “Son of Superman,” but she has no intentions of giving up her share of parenting no matter how dangerous his powers might become. And honestly? DC Comics desperately has needed more of this particular trait.
For every one mother who fights to retain her sense of identity while investing herself in her child there are easily half a dozen more marked with the guilt of abandonment or abuse (Selina Kyle, Sandra Wu-San, Jade Nguyen, just to name a few). It’s refreshing to see a comic writer rising to the challenge of developing fun, interesting characters in a domestic setting rather than using it as a setting for satire and I applaud Tomasi for this necessary work.
As for our cliffhanger ending, I have my suspicions about who this mysterious stranger might be, but I can rest assured knowing that young Jon will be equipped with the sharpest of tools and powers from not one, but two “super” parents. This is the kind of comic that you know will grow you right alongside your main character, leaving you the better for having read it.