Patrick Gleason, Peter Tomasi, Mick Gray, and John Kalisz have, of late, made the youngest stars of the DCU their special focus. Gleason and Tomasi have chronicled the adventures of Damian Wayne and Jon White, otherwise known as Robin and Superboy, while Gleason has pencilled them with large eyes and blocky, somewhat cartoonish proportions that convey sincerity with a touch of comedy. Mick Gray’s bold ink lines and John Kalisz’ bold, garish reds and blues enhance the effect. It was only a matter of time before these two youthful heroes met, especially as the new Super Sons title is already announced. Superman #10 makes no bones about being a prologue to that upcoming book, and in its cheerfully obvious narrative goals, and blatant commercial aims, it is a brilliant success.
One of the secrets to the so-far enjoyable run of the Rebirth Superman
is a certain lack of shame. The book is, on one level, a glorious mess, with its celebration of dimensional manipulation, doppelgängers, bizarre power transfers, and other baroque plot contrivances that the more self-styled elite critics of comic book culture love to disparage. Its popularity springs in no small part from embracing its identity as the arch comic book of all Rebirth comic books. This free wheeling attitude continues in issue #10 as the Superman title steps up to participate in Rebirth’s new emphasis on continuity and the shared universe. The latest work with Damian Wayne in Teen Titans has emphasized both his loneliness and his sense of entitlement. Damian sees himself as the natural leader of his generation of heroes, the logical hero to step into the space vacated by the apparent death of Tim Drake. He is determined to force his way into that position. He also has the habit of kidnapping people to prove his superiority, and to try to make them be his friends, which is both very creepy and weirdly adorable.
This pattern, which he used with the Teen Titans, now plays out with Jon White. Damian, it seems, has been keeping a very close eye on the new Superboy. With the help of his steed and companion, Goliath, and his self-proclaimed sister, Maya, the young Nobody, he captures Jon and brings him to the Bat Cave for study. This, however, leads to a cascade of negative results that would have been perfectly predictable to anyone but the overconfident Robin. Those include a severely disapproving Batman, an enraged Superman, a scolding Alfred, and an angry Jon who given him a super punch in the gut when he makes the mistake of mocking Lois. It isn’t one of Damian’s better moments, especially since the subsequent fight is partially motivated by Robin’s jealousy over Maya’s attraction to the charming member of the Super Family.
The relationship between Jon and Damian has gotten off to a predictable start, and one suspects that Damian's better nature, always close under the surface in Gleason and Tomasi's work, will soon make an appearance. But, given that this is a title that's all about embracing comic book conventions, I for one am looking forward to the inevitable flowering of Robin's heart of, well ... electrum, perhaps? As for Jon, he is the most promising legacy character to enter the DCU since Damian himself, and his meetings with the other members of the Bat Family, and the other heroes of the world, promise delight for a long time to come.