Super Sons marks DC Comics’ first foray into original graphic novels aimed at a younger audience under the DC Zoom imprint. This series changes a few things about the characters, adds a brand new character, and has environmentally conscious messaging. It’s the kind of book that can reach a younger audience and maybe even inspire them. The first of three, this volume focuses on a not to distant future where water levels are rising and only Superman can help save the Earth.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The polar ice caps have nearly melted away, causing devastation to coastal cities. Erratic, deadly weather forces everyone inland, tearing families apart. Earth is facing its greatest crisis-and Superman and Batman are nowhere to be found. Jon Kent and Damian Wayne are opposite in every way except one-they are the sons of the World’s Greatest Heroes! To uncover a global conspiracy, this unlikely dynamic duo will need to learn to trust each other and work together to save the Earth. But who is the mysterious Candace? And what secrets does she hold that could be the key to everything?
Why does this matter?
The PolarShield Project is the very first book from the DC Zoom imprint at DC Comics targeting middle-grade readers. It comes from New York Times bestselling author Ridley Pearson (Kingdom Keepers) and artist Ile Gonzalez. It’s part of DC’s push for new kinds of stories which coincides with their adult graphic novel line DC Ink and DC Black Label last year.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I was rather taken with the pacing and well-written characters in this graphic novel. Written to be read all in one go, the plot moves forward well at first, introducing us to a new world and a new character named Candace. Just as we start to gain some insight into Candace, the story opens up to Superman attempting to stop a flood from destroying Metropolis. The water is held back by a wall and is naturally built by Bruce Wayne. As the story moves forward we gain insight into Jon Kent’s personality, as well as Bruce Wayne’s son Ian.
Yes, that’s right, Ian. He’s called Damian at one point, but it remains to be seen why he goes by Ian. We do learn things that may lead to discovery there and it’s quite clear Pearson is rewriting his origin a bit. He still wants to fight crime, but he isn’t the super genius crime fighter we know from the main universe. At least not yet. The world is far different too as it’s similar to the real world and the impending environmental issues we’ll all be facing. It’s nice to see this messaging and it’s not overt by any means. It simply points out a future where temperatures are rising and real crisis is occurring.
There’s certainly some crime fighting going on with Ian as well as Jon, it’s a team-up book after all, but this is more of a detective story than an action one. Similar to Scooby Doo, these characters are following leads and trying to uncover the truth and maybe even find a little justice on the way. Another supporting character is named Tilly, who is given a good role to play. Really the balance between Jon, Ian, Candace, and Tully is great by the end.
The art by Ile Gonzalez is very clean and pleasing to the eye. Layouts are simpler than conventional comics, but it’s also in a digest format. There’s a subtle cartoony nature to the characters that makes them seem youthful. Even Superman looks young in an impressive full-page spread.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
The use of Candace is a bit odd until halfway through. She’s introduced and then sort of disappears for a third of the book. It made me wonder what the deal was and make me wonder if the character didn’t matter at all.
Customary of fiction, certain characters conveniently exit the story so as to let the kids go on their adventure. I won’t name names to avoid spoilers, but it seems too convenient and most likely will have something to do with a bigger plot.
Is it good?
I rather liked this first graphic novel and I suspect middle-grade kids will love it. It’s sharply written, well paced, and has the right pop of color and visual spirit.