Review: Super Sons Vol. 2: Planet of the Capes (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

March 11, 2018

 ·  2 comments

When at the time of this writing the fates of the Super Sons title, Jon Kent himself, and the Teen Titans and Titans titles are all up in the air, it seems very clear that whatever resolution DC Comics comes to should involve Peter Tomasi. The best parts of Tomasi's Rebirth Super Sons Vol. 2: Planet of the Capes involve Superboy Jon Kent's interactions with Robin Damian Wayne's Teen Titans, and the titular four-part story is clearly the worse for it when they depart. Tomasi has written some of the most magnificent grown-up, often gory comics stories I've read, but he's seemingly become DC Comics's go-to guy for mainstream "young DC" titles; Titans seems the logical next step so that Tomasi can keep doing what he's doing and also because the wider character net seems to mitigate some of Super Sons' pervading problems.

[Review contains spoilers]

The first two chapters of Planet of the Capes are both interesting and funny. We have the relatable all-ages struggle of Jon feeling left out by best friend Damian's deference to his Titans group; we have at least a tease of some former-continuity villains at play; and the hijinks of Damian turned crotchety old man are comedy gold. Jon gets characters to play off other than just Damian, which cuts down on the sense of repetitiousness among the gags. The inclusion of more than just the Super Sons in the book also makes the story feel larger and more relevant, whereas especially given its all-ages bent Super Sons sometimes feels too insular, telling a Super Sons story just for the sake of telling it. (I grant an intrinsic value in a continuity-light, all-ages story of Superman and Batman's sons, even as I wish it landed more strongly in my personal wheelhouse as a reader.)

For me, this is best demonstrated by that Planet of the Capes felt dull in its third and fourth parts, when Jon and Damian are stranded on an alien planet and have to fight their way back alongside some new characters we'll probably never see again. Surely Tomasi builds alien worlds well a la his Green Lantern Corps work, but across the two issues we get a couple origin pages that repeat information we already know, and additionally the story is reductive -- Jon and Damian land on the planet, they fight a bit, they go home. The all-ages tone feels like it hampers the book unnecessarily; this title can appeal to a broad audience without needing to lack nuance. With the Titans, at least, Super Sons gains some energy; without them, the book grows predictable.

I might have received Tomasi's final "One Fine Day" -- in which the Super Sons eventually gain their own headquarters -- better if it weren't for the end of "Capes." Here, there's no real conflict so much as Tomasi parallels Jon and Damian's interactions with their dads on the way to their new "Fortress of Attitude." It's a cute story, of the type we might have seen as a one-off in Jeph Loeb's Superman/Batman; Jon teaching Damian to "fly" atop an old pickup truck just begs to be drawn by Tim Sale. The fact that the issue is exceptionally cutesy can be forgiven because it's a one-off (and lead-in to the Super Sons of Tomorrow), specifically except for the fact that it comes off the milquetoast end of the previous story. That Jon and Damian will now attend the same school has wonderful potential, however, short of the fact that this title may not be lasting long enough for us to see it.

The art here, when drawn by Jorge Jimenez, is bar none; short, perhaps, of Tomasi's frequent collaborator Patrick Gleason, there's probably no one who should be drawing Super Sons but Jimenez, achieving a fun, funky, youthful style. At least part of the difficulty with the end of "Capes" is the switch to artist Carmine di Giandomenico, whose work I enjoy on Flash but who draws Damian especially looking much too old, and in a reserved style at the point this book most wants for pep. Jose Luis does fine in the one-off with a look of DC's house style, something along the lines of Paul Pelletier or Dan Jurgens.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Super Sons Vol. 2: Planet of the Capes

Surely a positive thing in Super Sons coming up is the Super Sons of Tomorrow crossover, which just means more of Peter Tomasi writing the Teen Titans. After a few volumes, Teen Titans is one book I feel needs a course correction (though to Benjamin Percy's credit, the Rebirth Teen Titans is better than it's been in a while) along with Super Sons, so I don't have as much consternation as some do about DC doing a re-think on these as Brian Michael Bendis takes over the Superman titles. Super Sons Vol. 2: Planet of the Capes offers an indication of how this title can be its strongest and hopefully that's the direction it goes.

[Includes original and variant covers, character and cover sketches]

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Super Sons Vol. 2: Planet of the Capes
Author Rating
3 (scale of 1 to 5)

Comments ( 2 )

  1. I picked this up but haven't had a chance to read it yet. Based on the first volume I think your writing concerns are valid. One thing I want to mention is Dustin Nguyen's Variants which I just love and I think captures some of that feel you describe in regards to the 'flying' scene.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd readily agree that Dustin Nguyen is Super Sons' Tim Sale.

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