Wanting to focus on something more lighthearted and fun means there are spoilers ahead for…
Adventures of the Super Sons #3
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Carlo Barberi
Cover: Dan Mora
“Shut up, Robin!”
I mentioned a while back that I have plans for a very special™ Spotlight post. This week would have been a good time to spring that one on the world, as there was nothing in my stack – nothing that I finished reading in time, at any rate – that I felt a particularly strong compulsion to write about.
This isn’t a criticism of what I bought. Everything that I read was fine, but there just wasn’t anything that “spoke” to me and said, “Hey, devote a Spotlight post to talking me up!” or that shared some commonality with the current state of things for me or felt otherwise relatable*, so it would have been a good time to dive into the Archives and write that very special™ post.
Unfortunately, there are some other things I need to finish before I can write it, and life just isn’t providing me with the time and energy to get those things finished, what with the day job and the commute just eating up as much of both as it can get its hands on.
And of course, I have to have that day job to pay the bills (and buy the comics) because this site doesn’t bring in enough money to cover the cost of its own existence, let alone the cost of mine.
I guess the site just doesn’t “drive traffic,” because people don’t “click the links”, because the content “isn’t engaging,” and is “not interesting,” and is “not very good,” and the platform “offers no compelling advantages,” and while I’m “thankful” to the “twenty six or so people” who are likely to “look at this post,” I need to remember that “nobody cares,” and I should just “give up” and leave this sort of thing to the people who “know what they’re doing” and are “actually good at this,” and also I shouldn’t “use dated references.”
Wait, that took a turn. Lighthearted and fun, remember?
Let’s just check in and see what the boys are up to, shall we?
After the cancellation of Super Sons, I was surprised to see that a new title launched so quickly, even as a limited series, particularly given that Jon is currently on a cosmic road trip with his mom and his grandpa – or, rather, as has been revealed recently, just his grandpa, apparently. That latter bit led to a fakeout on the first page of the first issue, which featured a full-page image of Jon declaring that he was back. Turning the page, however, revealed that he was “back” from getting ice cream, and an editorial note indicated that the events in this story take place before National Periodicals’ Interstellar Vacation.
This issue opens with the boys imprisoned on a spaceship, captives of some alien kids who call themselves “The Gang.”
The members of The Gang are from a rigidly-ordered society where their only escape from the routine of their lives was observing broadcasts received from Earth, with a focus on the adventures of the heroes and, more to the point, villains that populate that distant backwater planet. Led by the evil Rex Luthor, The Gang has modeled themselves after some of Earth’s villains, taking on identities such as the Shaggy Boy, Kid Deadshot, and, more significantly to the state of the Super Sons as the issue opens, Joker Jr.
It seems that Joker Jr. didn’t choose the homicidal clown life so much as the homicidal clown life chose him. Or rather, Rex chose it for him, using the power of peer pressure to get him to join The Gang. But Joker Jr. wanted out, and towards that end, he helped Robin escape captivity and led him to where Jon was being held prisoner with a device that can simulate the effects of kryptonite.
The issue opens with the not-quite heroic Joker Jr. bravely running away in an escape pod, rationalizing that he’s done all that he can to help, and that even if Robin and Superboy don’t survive, at least he got away.
Or so he thinks, right up until a laser beam fired from a distance by Kid Deadshot cuts his ship in half and he’s sent hurtling unprotected out into the empty vacuum.
Back on the ship, Robin’s attempt at setting Superboy free had an unexpected side-effect. In attempting to change the frequency of the radiation the kryptonite device was generating, Robin accidently switched it from green kryptonite radiation to red.
This leads to an homage to a classic Superman story that was itself an homage to a classic Superman story.
The two Superboys don’t get along especially well, though their existence does throw Rex’s plans – which mostly consisted of killing someone just to make their bones as villains – out of whack, and ultimately does the same to the ship as the conflict onboard ends up taking out the navigation system.
Meanwhile, out in the vastness of space, Joker Jr. isn’t quite dead yet, and manages to activate some sort of force field/invisible spacesuit, just in time for some mysterious passerby to offer him a lift.
With the out-of-control ship about to make a crash-landing on The Gang’s home planet, Rex takes off in an escape pod, and Robin commands the two Superboys – who have been bickering over Blue’s taunting assertion that Red likes Ice Princess, the juvenile equivalent of Captain Cold – to evacuate everyone from the ship, but the two put their differences aside to execute a different plan, stabilizing the ship from the outsides to bring it in for a less catastrophic landing.
Unfortunately, being split in two seems to have halved Superboy’s powers, and Blue gets caught I the wake of the reverse thrusters that Robin fired to assist with the landing and appears to be dying as a result.
Before Robin can use the kryptonite device to try to reverse the effects of the split and restore a single Jon to health, Rex and The Gang show up and destroy it.
All is not quite lost, however, as Joker Jr. and his mysterious rescuer, an obscure character from DC’s past, arrive on the scene.
This was a fun little issue, in large part because of the instant dislike that Red and Blue took to each other, and how their attempts at insulting each other really don’t pan out, given that they are each other. It’s a true case of “I know you are, but what am I?”
And, of course, he was telling on himself when he made fun of Red for liking Ice Princess.
Robin, albeit lacking a certain sense of self-awareness, sums things up pretty nicely.
The art has a good storytelling flow, which is impressive, given the story’s frenetic nature, and the slightly cartoony style is a good fit. I particularly like the design on the kid versions of the villains.
Like a said, it was a fun little issue, and there’s value in having fun.
There’s plenty of Super Sons material out there. And it’s fun!
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*I mean, the two halves of Superboy not getting along is pretty relatable, but I didn’t really want to go down the path of exploring my sense of self-loathing.