Superman: Son of Kal-El #16 – Tom Taylor, Writer; Cian Tormey, Ruari Coleman, Artists; Romulo Fajardo Jr, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: For this book’s entire run, it’s been focused on one story—Henry Bendix and the war for Gamorra. But now Bendix has been defeated and Jon Kent is able to rest for the first time in the run—or can he? Because he’s Superman, and Superman can never truly rest. This is a done-in-one issue in some ways, and a brilliant one, but it also functions as the second part of the story of Kal-El’s return. Starting before the last issue of Action Comics, it opens with a flashback to the day Jon’s super-hearing emerged and his father helped him deal with the sudden burst of sound. And in the present day, Jon continues to carry on for his father, helping hundreds of people any way he can—foiling natural disasters, visiting childrens’ hospitals, and even warming his mother’s coffee with his heat vision when she gets distracted by work. He even visits a guy whose arm he accidentally broke while saving him a few issues back.
But it’s not all heartwarming day-in-the-life stuff, as Jon gets involved in a breakout at Strykers that pits him against the Ultra-Humanite—but Ultra-Humanite may not have been the one intended to get free. Lex Luthor looms large over this series, carefully erasing any trace of his past criminal activity and continuing his propaganda campaign against Jon. Taylor gets what I’ve always believed—that Luthor works best when he’s a constant fixture in Superman’s life, never able to win but never able to be truly defeated because of his resources. And as the propaganda campaign against Jon ramps up and a new villain looms in the background, it’s the perfect time for Kal to return and see what his son has made of himself. Taylor’s greatest strength in this book is the emotional punch he can get out of small moments, and while the timeline of this issue is a little hard to grasp at first, it comes together brilliantly.
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