With Brian Michael Bendis taking over writing duties for Superman in both his solo comic and Action Comics in a couple of months, there’s been ample concerns about what, if anything, is sticking around from the recent runs of both titles.
One of the biggest points of concern is the son of Superman and current Superboy, Johnathan Samuel Kent. When the pre-Flashpoint Superman arrived into the modern DC universe established with the New 52, he did so with his wife Lois Lane and their 10-year-old son. With Rebirth, Jon soon discovered that he himself has superpowers similar to his dad, and has taken up the codename Superboy.
Fans quickly took a liking to the young Kryptonian. The father/son dynamic between the two heroes feels real and genuine, and exists as a natural continuation of Clark’s history as a hero and an icon. Jon is also, frankly, just adorable, and at the right intersection of growing into himself while maintaining the right kind of innocence it would take to be a son of the most popular superhero in the world. Even when he’s placed in genuinely dire situations, he still maintains a sense of optimism and hope that you’d expect from someone wearing the ‘S’. Those traits have all carried over in the titles featuring Jon, from his team-up book with current Robin Damian Wayne in Super Sons, to guest spots in Teen Titans.
Despite being only around for a handful of years, Jon has grown into a popular character, and it’s easy to worry that Bendis would retcon the child out of existence when he begins writing Superman and Action Comics. Thankfully, he’s already said that all the events in the past two years of both comics will be sticking around, and one has to assume that extends to Superboy. His stories will instead be a continuation of what came before, and that’s what offers the most potential for Bendis.
Jon has been through a lot the last couple of months. In “Super Sons of Tomorrow,” he learned that a possible future for him will involve not just taking on the Superman mantle, but also killing millions of people with his Solar Flare power. That possibility would be upsetting for any child to learn about, but the greatest blow came when he was rejected by the Teen Titans to join their group, and told to try again once he turns 13. After getting along so easily with them the first time, this came as a huge blow to his self-confidence, and that’s not something even Damian could repair.
If there’s one thing made clear from writing teenage versions of Peter Parker and Miles Morales for so long, it’s that Bendis has a knack for writing young characters brimming with potential. Rebirth books have already taken time to highlight just how strange Jon is, and now that he’s both frightened of what he could be and has few friends to help him out, he’s arguably more alone than Clark was at his age. Combined with the Sanctuary crisis center for superheroes on the horizon, the pieces are in place for Bendis to do something really interesting with the young Superboy.
Jon’s future, both as a character in real life and in the DC universe, is in an interesting space for Bendis to take. Whatever happens, the character is too popular at this point to do away with. Like his father, he’s a symbol for young children who’ve grown up with Superman, and now it’s time to see what the Boy of Steel is really made of.
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