The Burden of Superman
Future State has finally passed, and we see a very different future for Superman. Clark is gone, and in his place is Jon, who has become obsessive about protecting Metropolis. It’s a different yet interesting take on Superman’s successor. Now that we’re in the present, we now pick up where Bendis’ run left off: The now teenaged Jon Kent teaming up with his father to save the world. We have seen the beginning of Superboy’s journey, then the formative years with the Legion of Superheroes. All that remains is the question of how he takes the title of Superman? What happens to Clark?
**Some Spoilers Below**
We open with the Man and Boy of Steel, protecting a STAR Labs satellite from aliens. These aliens have been coming from a breach the scientists have been studying under the orders of Amanda Waller, who is hoping to see the limits of the Kryptonians. During one of the battles, Superman gets cut by the aliens, revealing they have the potential to kill him. This upsets Superboy as he knows his father’s death is soon. Before he can assure Jon that this can be avoided, another attack begins on the satellite, with the largest alien yet.
The idea of a Superman successor has been done before, but with his biological son, this feels more emotional. Since we first met Jon, he has been looking up to his father, using him as the basis of the hero he is meant to be. Just like life, a son would grow more sad and desperate to keep his father alive. For Superboy, he knows how and when it will happen, so he begs Superman to stay out of the fight. It’s honestly heartbreaking.
Unfortunately, this is executed rather poorly. We really don’t get a lot in terms of Superman, with the only real lines from Clark talking about a childhood game. We get a cool fight sequence with the Supermen, but to a newcomer, they would know nothing about them. If this is the end for Clark Kent, give us something to latch onto.
While the story has its interesting points, the art doesn’t do this comic any favors. Phil Hester is the illustrator here, and his style just doesn’t fit in a Superman story. There is a blocky design that honestly makes the world feel flat, especially when given the brilliantly bright colors of Hi-Fi. I could see this art fitting in a darker comic like Batman or Justice League Dark, but not here.
There is actually some good art in this issue despite this. Sami Basri does the Tales of Metropolis story in the backup, and honestly, I would have preferred the artists had switched roles. Basri’s style fits the staple action for Superman, while Hester’s would have fit Bibbo’s story. It’s good art, just with the wrong story.
Overall there was stuff to get interested in for this coming Superman tale. The Man of Steel’s days are numbered, and Jon’s emotions are real enough to begin getting attached. The problem is that while this idea is great, it was poorly executed. Hopefully, the subsequent issues will help smooth it out. In terms of art, Hester’s work just doesn’t fit this tale and honestly distracts from the story. The backup story’s art would honestly fit better, but at least Hi-Fi’s color fits the world of Superman. There’s enough here to give this run a chance, but the creative team really needs to deliver.