DC's Son of Kal-El #1 Energetically Kickstarts a New Era of Superman
Benton Jones
Despite its modern look, Superman: Son of Kal-El #1's story soars with a classic Superman feel. Beautifully drawn, well written, and wonderfully paced, DC's Superman: Son of Kal-El's debut issue lays a promising foundation for Jon Kent's future adventures as the 21st century Superman. Although the book can be a little heavy-handed at times with its moral focus, like any Superman tale, it nevertheless delivers an adventure filled with energetic optimism.
Written by Tom Taylor, drawn by John Timms, and colored by Gabe Eltaeb, Superman: Son of Kal-El #1 centers on Jon Kent's birth as well as follows Jon's attempts to extinguish a devastating forest fire. The crisis of conscience that  Jon comes to face while fighting the blaze serves as the guiding light for not only the rest of the issue but for future issues to come.
Superman: Son of Kal-El #1 has an easygoing, inviting tone that couples admirably with its buoyant sense of hope. The issue manages to find space for humor, compassion, and reflection without feeling overly busy. Pace-wise, the issue is phenomenal. It drawing its audience in from the first page and keeps them engaged until the last. Even the relatively quieter moments of the book are punctuated with interesting conversations and meaningful moments. Jon is written with quiet confidence and stature that is undeniably Superman, but with enough self-doubt and uncertainty to drive home that he is not, nor should be, a Clark Kent clone. Jon's relationship with Damian Wayne comes up somewhat abruptly in this issue, but the time spent focusing on their relationship is well worth the panels devoted to it -- particularly if the relationship between them is to be used to further characterize the young heroes.
The artwork in Superman: Son of Kal-El #1 is spectacular. With a modern flavor that dazzles in the issue's flashier moments, the lack of traditional Superman optics -- with the exception of the cover art -- may be surprising to some readers expecting a more old-fashioned update. The visuals on Superman: Son of Kal-El #1 are unapologetically sharp. Timms draws DC heroes with distinction, which makes Jon Kent feel right at home in his Superman tights, albeit with an adolescent veneer that works perfectly to remind readers that Jon is not his father. Eltaeb's colors ebb and flow perfectly with the high energy level of the panels, and do sensational work in delivering each section's tone. Overall, as good as the script for Son of Kal-El #1 is, the artwork is even more impressive, adding style and substance at every turn.
Narratively, the issue has a lot to accomplish. The hurdle for a debut issue of this magnitude is whether or not it can lay a solid foundation for a run to succeed. In the case of Superman: Son of Kal-El #1, the creative team soundly jumped that hurdle. The book sets up what's sure to be some main themes and ideas for Jon Kent to wrestle with, as well as set a fabulous tone for future issues. Where Jon Kent's story will go next is anyone's guess, but this issue's clear-eyed vision makes it hard to imagine Jon slowing down anytime soon.
Superman: Son of Kal-El #1 is recommended for all comic fans intrigued by the next chapter of Jon Kent's story as he takes up the mantle of Superman. So far, Jon Kent -- and those helming his journey -- seem more than up to this superhero challenge.