A couple of weeks ago, I got a surprise delivery — a book I had ordered back in January and completely forgotten about. And it took me a minute to remember why I had ordered it. I do enjoy comics/graphic novels, but usually Superman is not one of my “must reads.” But last year DC Comics introduced a new iteration of Clark Kent’s son Jon and people lost their minds. Jonathan Kent is not just the new Superman, he is also bisexual. Moreover, Jon is a bit of a “social justice warrior” with an agenda that promises to take him in his own unique direction, fighting for “Truth, Justice and a Better World.” So it was fun to read this during Pride Month, and it is a good story (so far) by Tom Taylor with some excellent artwork from John Timms.
Jon Kent in some ways is just your average teen. He wants friendship and to attend college and do the usual stuff that goes along with it, but being the son of Superman Clark Kent and Pulitzer winning journalist Lois Lane means that Jon can’t just be “normal.”Jon is a celebrity whether he likes it or not. Jon also has all of his father’s extraordinary abilities — hearing, vision, speed, strength — and a desire to serve humanity. So even though members of the Justice League go out of their way to create a fake ID and university admission for Jon, his cover is blown before he even enters the building due to a gunman putting students in danger. Jon’s only friend is Robin, who pushes Jon to work harder at building friendships.
Jon, however, is constantly able to hear the cries of those in need and cannot ignore his responsibility to help. His social life must take a backseat, especially since the whole Kent family knows that Clark will soon have to leave (some off-earth crisis to manage) and Jon will be Superman for Earth. It’s clear that Jon is going to be a different kind of Superman, one who serves the people and who questions and challenges authority. I suspect that this aspect of the story really bothers conservatives. Early on in the story, Jon confronts military officers who beat up a suspect who has already surrendered and been rendered harmless; Jon hears them and returns, defying the military in order to remove the offender from their control, even though the officer in charge reminds Jon that he is “going against his government.” Jon goes against government wishes again when he learns about a boat full of refugees from Gamorra, a repressive totalitarian state run by a dictator named Henry Bendix. Other governments walk on eggshells when it comes to Gamorra and Bendix, trying to keep the “peace” even though Gamorra is known for its human rights violations. The refugees are caught in a storm and will perish at sea but no government will risk intervention, so Jon saves them himself and in doing so, makes himself enemy number one to Bendix/Gamorra.
The stories of Jon’s social life and his responsibility dovetail here, as it is through another student with unusual abilities that Jon learns about Gamorra and the refugees. Jay Nakamura is a Gamorran refugee and university student who runs his own underground news service, one that Jon follows. After Jon saves the boat, Jay reaches out, tells Jon about the horrible experiments that go on in Gamorra and demonstrates his own powers. Jay knows that Jon has now made himself a target for Bendix, but he and his friends can help. And, as you might have guessed, Jon and Jay will become more than partners in fighting for justice; a romantic relationship develops between them as well.
Volume 2 comes out in the fall and I am interested enough in both story lines to want to keep up with this story. I’m sure writer Tom Taylor will continue to piss off conservatives with Jon Kent’s private life and public activism, while artist John Timms will draw it beautifully. This might turn me into a Superman fan yet.