It’s a Robin/Talia al Ghul, Superboy/Lois Lane issue of Super Sons. Is it good?
Over the course of the series, Super Sons has done a great job exploring the very different ways in which Superboy and Robin carry the weight of their dads’ immense legacies, but that’s only half the story. In the latest arc of the series, the focus shifts to their relationships with their moms. Super Sons #14 concludes the two-part “The Parent Trap” arc, wherein the diminutive duo must stop Damian’s mother–the deadly Talia al Ghul–from assassinating Jon’s mother–legendary reporter Lois Lane. After so much time given to the boys’ relationship with their World’s Finest fathers, an arc focusing on their moms is certainly a welcome change. Unfortunately, issue #14 doesn’t quite live up to the potential of its premise.
The story starts out with the boys rushing to Gotham, where Lois is interviewing a lead about a story as Talia is setting up her sniper rifle on a rooftop across the street. Robin and Superboy show up and a fight breaks out between Damian and Talia while Superboy deals with her League of Assassin goons. As the fight goes on, Talia repeatedly reminds her son of his supposed destiny with the League of Assassins and accuses him of going soft because he’s been spending too much time with his father. This is not the first time these two characters have confronted each other about this, nor is it even close to the first time Tomasi has delved into Damian’s violent past. As such, this interaction between Robin and his mother feels like it’s retreading familiar ground for both characters, especially for how much space it’s given in the issue. The most interesting aspect of it all is that it’s the first time Superboy is hearing about Damian’s past in much detail, but there isn’t even much drama there, as they just talk about it real quick and then Superboy is over it.
And while Damian gets plenty of time to confront his motherly demons, Jonathan Kent and his mother don’t get afforded the same storytelling space. Lois is pretty much just there to be Talia’s target and doesn’t do anything to move the plot along in any way, which is a shame, because having her get more directly caught up in the conflict and interacting with Talia would have been a far more interesting way to contrast the two boys’ matriarchs. We get a brief scene of her having to pretend to not know who Superboy is which was cute and showed how much more trusting she is of Jon than Talia is of Damian, but it was far too little. It’s a real shame, and makes me think the arc may have been rushed due to the series ending soon, and because over in Superman, Tomasi has proven he’s capable of writing a capable and multifaceted Lois.
On the art side of things, penciller Carlo Barberi and inker Art Thibert maintain the high level of visual quality the series has enjoyed from the beginning, with fun and dynamic layouts that keep the story moving and clear. They also do a good job making sure the kids look like kids, and they make the camera angles reflect their perspective, letting them seem powerful while still looking like they have reason to be afraid of their moms.
While it’s a relatively entertaining and well-drawn issue, Super Sons #14 misses the mark by not giving enough screentime to both mother-son relationships involved, leaving a potentially great comic as simply just good. Especially if you’ve followed Damian as a character for any amount of time, this issue will be retreading old ground, and for Super Sons readers the story will sadly feel like a forgettable part of a normally above average series.