Super Sons #13
Talia Al Ghul returns to her son’s Damian life in Super Sons #13, by Peter J Tomasi, Carlo Barbieri, and Art Thibert. When your mom is one of the premiere assassins in the world, that can only lead to trouble.
Jon and Damian have a typical day at school, but all of this normality is shattered when Talia Al Ghul shows up. She thinks that her son’s abilities are being squandered and tells him she needs him for a difficult job. After school, Jon and Damian investigate what Talia’s been doing and find a group of her ninjas in Gotham City. The two make short work of them and find out who Talia’s new target is… REDACTED!!!!
As usual, Tomasi plays up the odd couple aspects of Jon and Damian’s relationship perfectly and showing them at a school, in a “normal” setting, is the perfect place for this. Each character is still basically themselves at the core in school. Jon is the earnest optimist, making friends, playing sports, and generally being a ray of sunshine, while Damian is a bratty and brash genius delighting in showing off. Characterization has always been one of the main strengths of the book and what keeps a lot of readers coming back. Jon and Damian feel like real kids, kids you can find at any school in America right now.
From there, the book shifts over to the main plot and this is where we get some interesting wrinkles and what could be a coming wrench thrown into the relationship of Jon and Damian. Damian, first and foremost, is an assassin, and has killed before. Jon has always “known” this, in an intellectual way, but in this issue, he’s confronted with it, as Damian is asked by Talia to help her with an assassination. Jon, being Superman’s son, is very much against killing, something that before he became Robin was a big part of Damian’s life. In their exchanges about it, Damian gets rather defensive and this little personality shift, a blink-and-you-miss-it thing, shows a new facet to character. Damian Wayne, that titan of arrogance and cool self reliance, feels guilty for things he’s done. This is a huge development for the character and it’s played in a perfect way.
The big reveal at the end of the issue of REDACTED being Talia’s target is interesting, but predictable in a thematic sense. One of the strengths of the book has been separating Jon and Damian from their parents and giving them room to shine. Bringing in Talia sort of lessens that to an extent, but it will still be interesting to explore Damian’s relationship with his mother after so long away from her. Plus, the reveal at the end of issue sets up a conflict that if done correctly, has potential to be really cool.
Carlo Barbieri’s cartoony style, similar to previous artist Jorge Jimenez, works but lacks some of the exaggeration and energy of Jimenez’s art. It makes up for it, though, with good detail and figure work. There’s nothing spectacular here, artwise, but it’s all very solid and enjoyable. It doesn’t add a lot to the book, but it doesn’t subtract anything either.
Super Sons #13 keeps up the legacy of pitch perfect characterization and solid artwork that have been a hallmark of the book since it’s debut. It has humor, heart, and action, something this book has been continually bringing.. Bringing Talia in lets readers see Damian in a new way and this story has the potential to sow some discord into Jon and Damian’s relationship. It’s not perfect, and this story arc could go either way, but if you haven’t given Super Sons a try yet, this is a perfect place to start.