Do Not Hug (Superman #16 comic review)

Superman #16

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: David Lafuente

Colorist: Paul Mounts

Letters: Dave Sharpe

Jonathan Kent, the new Superboy, has made his way into becoming a fan favorite. One thing that has rubbed some people the wrong way has been how the character has been drastically and quickly “aged up.” His journey to becoming an older teen had him imprisoned with Ultraman and the Crime Syndicate, in a fairly upsetting storyline. Many readers missed the sheer positivity that came from the new Superboy and his dynamic with Damian Wayne. This issue finally addresses the Super Sons and where they stand as a team.

The plot in this comic is really simple. Superboy reconnects with Robin and they fight Leviathan. Superboy also makes his decision on joining the 31st century. However, the plot is purposely shallow and is background noise to the character work that takes the focus here. This issue is all about how Damian handles the new status quo for his best friend and dealing with his emotions watching his friend become a new person. A lot of work is done to show the reader that even though Jonathan is physically older, he still has a place in his life for his best friend, Damian. It is a team-up book that is a spiritual epilogue to the cancelled Super Sons series, that made Robin and Superboy fan favorites.

Tim’s Thoughts
After I finished reading this book I was a mix of emotions. I have been fine with Jonathan’s aging up and It places him in a perfect spot between being a child and a full-grown Superman. Also, Damian Wayne is my favorite Robin and I always welcome his appearance. I have found their friendship to be a nice new signal to the DC Universe to embrace positivity and fun. Brian Michael Bendis gets this and writes a really fun comic that could be enjoyed by all ages. It hits the tone of Super Sons and there are some heartwarming moments. Robin and Superboy hug in the comic twice and each time it is impossible not to smile at these kinds of moments (being a father to two sons it does hit close to home for me). But, not everything works for me and a few times I feel that Robin in particular acts slightly out of character. There is a short scene about puberty that feels a little too forced and inauthentic. Robin even gets upset when he thinks that Jonathan might have had sex (he hasn’t). These moments lead to some cringey jokes that just don’t land. Especially when dealing with Damian Wayne who has never shown that he worries about those kinds of things. I get that Robin is acting and reacting like most kids his age would, but it doesn’t fit him. Thankfully this is a minor part of the issue that is largely excellent and makes you care about the characters all over again. I want another Super Sons book, and I would trust Brian Michael Bendis working with these characters together more.

David Lafuente was a great choice for this issue. His vibrant and cartoony style lends itself nicely to the emotion and pacing of this comic. Paul Mounts does a great job keeping everything colorful and lively as well. You could see this book as a companion piece to a Super Sons animated show, even though none exists. Going back to my favorite part of the book, the two hugs, the art team here perfectly captures the warmth of the panels. Many artists have no problems creating splash pages of action scene after action scene, but few can make the story of a friendship equally dynamic. Lafuente seems at home working on a book like this.

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The title says Superman but it could have easily said Super Sons. If you have been missing the Damian and Jonathan team ups, here is your chance for one more. It is a comic full of love and friendship and outside some silly moments it really works.
  • Some real touching moments
  • Great to see the Super Sons back together
  • Some perfect art
  • A few jokes and moments fall flat

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