Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils by: Ivan Reis
Art by: Brandon Peterson
Inks by: Joe Prado
Colors by: Alex Sinclair
Letters by: Josh Reed
Cover by: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Alex Sinclair
Variant Cover by: Rob Liefeld
Last issue, Jon came back to Earth, aged to seventeen, and tried to explain to his parents what happened during his space trek with his grandfather.
Jor-El’s ship is in Space Sector 2815. Jon is asleep when Jor-El wakes him up and asks him why he came with him to space. Jon is humorous at first, saying that it was a free trip to space with no chores, and “not the worst way to spend the summer.” He eventually breaks down and admits that he followed him because he was unsure about his place in the world, and felt that he was living in his father’s shadow. Jor-El states that he himself should have died with Krypton, and that his survival defies the laws of science, to which Jon answers that he was never meant to be born. Jor-El expresses his despair that if science cannot explain why either of them is alive, then his life’s work until this point has been for nothing. He apologizes and leaves Jon to his own thoughts. Echoing his mother, Jon rightfully wonders, “The hell kinda thing is that to say to an eleven-year-old?” Jon tells his parents that that was the moment he realized that this was no summer vacation; he was stuck in space with “a crazy old man”.
Back in the present, Kelex is running a health scan on Jon at the Bermuda Fortress of Solitude, and Lois is lamenting that she should have never left Jon alone. Jon tries to comfort her, insisting that she did nothing wrong and that it was because she raised him to take care of himself that he was able to survive and make his way home. Clark is upset and excuses himself, initially to go punch asteroids again, but changes course and ends up fighting Mongul in the Arctic near the old Fortress. He was rightfully angry that Jor-El took away his son’s youth, and that he will never get to see him grow up.
Clark returns to the Bermuda Triangle and Lois immediately asks him if he found something to hit.
“Don’t make fun.” Clark answers.
“I’m not. I’m asking if you brought something back for me to hit, too.” Lois quips.
“Oh, nice. Anything we can use at the paper?”
“You know, not really.”
I actually liked this exchange because it felt true to both characters’ personalities and their relationship. The exchange between Lois and Clark—where he admits that it didn’t occur to him that Jor-El could be watching them through Kelex and she says that it’s alright because that is why they’re a team—was also a nice touch.
Jon resumes his story—after a battle in Sector 2817, he meets Kilowog and Arisa of the Green Lantern Corps. He asks them if they can take him back home. Arisa agrees at first, but when Jor-El approaches them, both she and Kilowog back down, apparently afraid of him. I found this to be ridiculous, since Green Lanterns are supposed to be space police and even though Jon said his mother knew he was there, it was clear that he was uncomfortable and wanted to go home to his parents. Of course, the plot dictates that Jon has to continue to be held emotionally captive by his grandfather, so even when Jor-El offers to take him home, Jon feels guilty and refuses. Jon also reveals that Jor-El stopped talking to him for some time after that conversation.
Eventually, Jor-El tries to apologize, which Jon dismisses, but they are interrupted by a black hole. Jor-El is sucked inside as he yells that he’s sorry. Meanwhile, Jon finds himself on Earth-3, surrounded by the Crime Syndicate.
The art has been consistently excellent on the Superman title. Bendis had some moments where the dialogue sounded authentically like the characters before he took over the run. I like how Jon sort of takes after his mother in some ways, and his attributing his survival to the things she taught him was exactly what I would like to see from their relationship.
One thing that I didn’t like was how after Jon expressed that his existence—as half-human and half-Kryptonian—was something of an accident, albeit a happy one, neither Lois nor Clark seemed to affirm that his affinity with two cultures, much like his father, is what makes him so special. The doubt he had was very human and understandable, but I believe that it’s important to stress that it is his being a perfect blend of Lois and Clark’s best qualities is a superpower in and of itself.
Additionally, Jon mentions how Clark gave him enormous shoes to fill, but what about Lois? His mother is literally the greatest journalist on the planet; I would think that that would be just as intimidating as your father being Superman.
The greatest weakness of this issue is that it suffers from a plot that unnecessarily rips apart the family dynamic that was established in Rebirth for shock value. I can only hope that Bendis will allow Jon to just be a kid again.