I’ve written about “The Issue With Superman” before (see “Confessions Of A Comic Book Guy -- The Issue With Superman”), said issue being he “continues to lose popularity because he is less relatable to modern audiences.” Or as Stephen Marche put it in his Esquire piece "Why Superman Sucks," he’s "He's boring, inhuman and probably a fascist." Well, after decades of trying to cover over the problem with bandaids (a mullet here, a marriage there) DC has finally decided to take the problem on headfirst. By giving us an altogether new Superman with a new costume, and naturally a new Superman #1.
Superman: Son of Kal-El #1 was an instant sell-out, the first among DC’s Infinite Frontier titles to do so. And so far, surprisingly, so good. Starting with the costume, while it definitely does have some of the unnecessary hyper-textured detailing that plagued Superman’s New 52 costume (a look I called “steampunk Victorian NASCAR space suit”), it is less noticeable. Add to it a stylish substantial ‘S’ insignia, and you have a simple, even elegant, design.
As for the actual comic, writer Tom Taylor and artist John Timms do a fine job of selling the reader on the premise that Jon Kent is Superman now and deserves to be. The creative team ably handles the standard superhero stuff, but more importantly, it begins to ask the big questions about what a truly modern Superman is supposed to be.
Taylor supposedly intends to have the Jon Kent Superman deal with “systemic issues” (a.k.a. reality). and this issue nicely sets up the stage for him to live up to his new catchphrase, “Truth, justice and a better world." I, of course, realize that this status quo isn’t sustainable; sooner or later, Jon’s dad will go back to wearing the cape. But meanwhile, I wouldn’t mind reading three to five years of Superman: Son of Kal-El.
On top of having more star turns than there are spins in your average performance of the Ice Capades, it’s also full of wild special effects, viscera, and body parts flying off in all directions. Though the most impressive stunt in the film happens when a chained to the ceiling Margot Robbe reaches down to a fallen guard and in “one fluid motion, Harley grabs a handcuff key from the goon’s corpse with her feet, then twists backward to put the key in the lock and free herself.”
It’s the sort of feat that doesn’t seem possible or would require at least an Olympic athlete or a performer from Cirque du Soleil and while director James Gunn admits “there’s no video proof that Margot Robbie didn’t use a stunt double,” he assures us she did it herself. I, for one, would like to believe Robbe is capable of doing it, seeing as how she seems capable of doing everything else.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.