Spoiler Warning: The following contains spoilers for Superman #16 by Brian Michael Bendis, David Lafuente, Paul Mounts and David Sharpe, on sale now.
Superman and Batman are two of the definitive characters of not just the DC Universe, but arguably modern pop culture. They've encountered every threat and dealt with countless inconceivable challenges for almost a full century. Their partnership has morphed over the years, transforming over the last decade into friends who bond over their mutual places in the world.
But the best result of Batman and Superman's partnership has been the friendship that's blossomed between their sons, Jon Kent and Damian Wayne. Their partnership has been one of the most consistently enjoyable beats in recent DC continuity, and it's shown the potential to be just as good (if not better) than their fathers' friendship.
Both Damian and Jon are relatively new characters. Damian was created by Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert in 2006, and quickly became central to Morrison's overarching exploration of the Batman mythos. Jon was created by Dan Jurgens during the events of Convergence in 2015 and quickly aged into adolescence. When these two young heroes first met, Robin and Superboy didn't initially get along, and Damian was highly distrustful of Jon. Damian even went as far as to sedate and restrain him. Batman and Superman tried to ease them into a friendship. When Bruce brought Jon into the Bat-Cave to run a series of tests on him, Damian provoked Jon into lashing out, instigating a fight that destroys one of the labs in the Bat-Cave.
The pair were forced to go on a camping assignment, where they learned to work together. After they proved their potential with one another, they were given their own secret base. The two worked together as partners throughout the Super Sons series, and grew into best friends. But things changed when Jon Kent ended up spending years alone in space with his grandfather.
In Superman #16, Jon makes the decision to travel to the future and join the Legion of Super-Heroes. But the last person Jon needs to see before he decides for good is Damian. Jon flies to Gotham and helps Damian while talking to him about the opportunity. Damian gives him a hopeful speech, something only Jon could get from the typically dour Boy Wonder, who even gives Jon a big hug before he leaves.
Bringing Out The Best
The pair contrast against one another in a deceptively clever manner, while consistently bringing out the best in the other. While Damian is far more versed in the absurdity that comes with being a superhero, he also has a far harder time being relaxed around people. But their contrasting personalities actually complement each other. Jon brings out the more kiddish elements of Damian, while Damian forces Jon to acknowledge his abilities and limits. Jon meanwhile has an easy sense of self, easily making friends at his school, and that rubs off on Damian, at least a little. There's none of the occasional mistrust that brews between their fathers. Instead, their fights are more derived from their differing opinions on particular situations.
Their friendship also fuels their connection, which keeps their disputes from ever actively pushing them against each other. There would never be a Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice situation between the two boys. That's part of what makes them a more compelling combination than seeing their fathers team up again. Their partnership comes with a promise to not break down into outright combat between each other, even if they disagree about something. They get to have an unburdened team-up, which is something Batman and Superman have occasionally lacked after decades of being pitted against each other.
The most exciting aspect of seeing Jon and Damian working together was the inherent sense of adventure that came with them. Superman and Batman have evolved over their near-century of publication. That's a fantastic touch in many stories, but the sheer wealth of experience they've had makes it rare for stories about those established icons to have that unbridled sense of exploration and adventure that they used to have. By virtue of growing up and naturally exploring the world, Damian and Jon have that fun sense of excitement baked into their character. It makes all of their battles against enemies feel entirely original.
The two also represent another factor of the DC Universe that has been reintroduced in the Rebirth era: legacy. Almost every DC hero has dealt with the question of the impact they leave on the world and the future generation that's coming up afterward. This has given creators a wealth of stories to tell with characters who can adjust to the times for new directions. That's the greatest strength Damian and Jon have. As the sons of two of DC's top heroes, there is plenty of material or places to go for the Super-Sons. And while Jon going to the future is an exciting prospect, it's also sad to see them (at least temporarily) end of the best new duo in recent DC memory.