Written by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
Art by Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, Mark Morales, Christian Alamy and John Galisz
Lettering by Rob Leigh
Published by DC Comics
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent are a lot like brothers: they work together most of the time and share a rapport, but sometimes they fight. So it’s perhaps no surprise that their sons, Damian Wayne and Jon Kent, take after their fathers in how they act: Damian keeps his guard up against most if not all other people he comes across, while Jon’s enthusiasm is palpable as he helps as many people as he can. Of course, the next generation of the Super-Sons haven’t gotten on perfectly thus far, but that tense dynamic proves to be the real joy of Superman #11, which continues the series’ trend of awe-inspiring scenes structured around heartfelt moments.
Opening with Jon and Damian surviving their “boot camp” instituted by their superheroic fathers, the plot quickly ramps up to a globe-trotting adventure with cameos that fans of Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s work on Batman and Robin and Robin: Son of Batman will be delighted by. Damian and Jon’s relationship over the course of the issue has its ebbs and flows as they stumble in and out of danger. In some scenarios they’re Indiana Jones and Henry Sr., in others like Felix and Oscar of The Odd Couple. By the end of the story, Jon and Damian aren’t immediately the best of friends, but there’s a foundation for a partnership which can built up moving into next year when Tomasi and Jorge Jimenez’s Super-Sons series starts.
While on the subject of dynamic duos, Tomasi and Gleason have perfected how they collaborate over the course of the past decade has only benefitted them on Superman. Both listed as storytellers in the credits, this issue allows these creators to play to their strengths: Tomasi’s able to construct an issue that weaves character development into plot, while Gleason’s plays with a multitude of panel layouts, blowing some pages up with breath-taking splash panels while dotting other pages with dense panels that cover lots of narrative ground. Rather than just writing for the trade, Tomasi and Gleason keep the story tight, giving the book a constant feeling of forward momentum. This story also speaks to the versatility of the pair, who have gone from a six-issue story to open the series, only to scale down into two-issue stories.
Gleason’s pencils are just as versatile, conveying a boldness that is perfect for a Superman book. Even pages with numerous panels have just enough detail to draw your focus to a specific element, such as Gleason using Superman’s cape as a signifier during a panel where a train is about to go off the tracks. Due to the globe-trotting nature of the issue, John Kalisz is able to go all out with his colors from a crisp snow covered mountain to a woodland area as the sun begins to set, there’s a cohesion between the colors – the toned-down sky is a mix of red and blue, which blends well with the trees on the edge of the panels.
All in all, Superman #11 is about symbols. Bruce and Clark don’t deem their sons worthy to wear them because of their actions last issue. In order to wear the Superboy and Robin emblems, Jon and Damian need to prove they can uphold the codes of their fathers, a lesson that can be learned practically and is best represented by the zipper on Jon’s jacket. Without that self-control, the symbol on Jon’s chest can’t connect and come together - a metaphor that might also apply to the mutual understanding between Jon and Damian. Yet even despite the bickering that characterizes the Super-Sons’ inaugural adventure, it’s clear that Peter Tomasi and Pat Gleason are on their way to establishing a strong sense of chemistry for DC’s newest Dynamic Duo.