Feeling the Crossover Blues in Superman 38

by Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS! If you haven’t read the issue, proceed at your own risk.

I consider a Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason credit on a comic book to be a mark of quality, almost a guarantee that the book I’m picking up will deliver a good time. Such a strong track record makes an issue like Superman 38, an issue that pretty much misses every mark across the board, a bit mystifying. How to account for such a discrepancy?

Perhaps it’s that the entire “Super Sons of Tomorrow” crossover event has the distinct flavor of corporate mandate, like an especially sinewy piece of beef that’s difficult to make your way through. Why is this an issue of Superman at all, except to string the events of this crossover across as many books as possible? This feels so much like a Super Sons entry that after reading the first handful of pages, I had to double check and make sure I was reading the right thing. Tomasi and Gleason have not been shy about making Superman a periphery character in his own book during their time on Superman, but it’s usually in service of foregrounding Lois or Jon. Here, everyone gets lost in the noise.

That’s especially true of Tim Drake, aka Savior, aka Easy to Mistake For Midnighter, whose redemptive moment in the final panels of the issue reads as inexplicably unmotivated outside of editorial knowing Drake’s gotta become a good guy again. His turn from antagonist to — ugh — savior happens too quickly to make any sort of impact. One moment, he’s trying to convince Superman to let his son explode, and then, in a single, tiny panel on an otherwise extremely busy page, Tomasi and Gleason try to sell us on Drake being turned by the sight of Clark and Conner Kent flying to help Jon. It’s thin gruel.

There is a brief moment early in the issue with the usual Tomasi and Gleason flair, and, unsurprisingly given how well they understand the characters, it involves Damian and Jon. Damian, obstinate as usual, refuses to let the Teen Titans knock him unconscious so they can ferry him and Jon to safety. But Jon knows it’s the best option they have, and, instead of arguing, does what needs to be done.

It’s the best, most genuine moment in the entire issue.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

2 comments on “Feeling the Crossover Blues in Superman 38

  1. Savior clearly gave his life to save everyone. That much was clear. He did it by ordering his friends to funnel the power to him. And then he finally let go and got lost in the timestream, saving Jon, metropolis and i dont know how many millions more in the process.
    The story is very clear about this. Not a fan of the costume itself, which feels too busy, but the name is good, In a world with superman, wonder woman, a justice league, etc. Savior isnt out of place.

    Finally, there was no turn from antagonist to hero, in this issue. In the last issue we had Drake saying he wouldnt kill Jon to Gar and Raven, that he would find another way, and he did. What we did have in this issue was his redemption story.

    It was overall a decent story, with great character moments and it sets up very interesting events in the near future.

  2. that’s a little crude given how in rebirth Damian’s forcibly written to be an asshole. you humanize a character and make him a jackass. Damian’s character redemption took place during the new 52 and they kept those elements in supersons but you regress him to be an asshole in rebirth. Jason todd when he was a robin was an asshole but Damian doesn’t give a fuck. he believes in effectiveness like his father; to him emotion is an oversight. This is why I prefer the DCAU version of the character. I hate how they combined court of owls with the nobody story in terms of concept cause they wanted to wrap up Damian’s character in three movies; Son of Batman, Batman vs Robin, and Batman Bad Blood but other than that he’s pretty consistent. The only exception was the Judas Contract and other than Jeriko they adapted the comic by the panel. Jaime Reyes replaced Cyborg and Donna Troy was cameoed at the end. If Damian was actually in character he would have put the pieces together and gone straight for slade. They acknowledged that as a suspicion that was proven to be true but it’s denounced to simply Damian being an ass. If I had one gripe with the dynamic of the DCAU is how Raven gave him the puppy dog that would become Titus as an apology present for keeping the truth of Terra’s betrayal from him. You’re acknowledging and adapting the biggest storyline of the teen titans methos next to the battle of trigon, you do a copy paste start to finish but with a different roster and yet you still have time to force three damirae scenes?! You might have had Terra flirting with Damian in an attempt to lower suspicion and animate a small catfight between her and raven. Damian is not hated because he’s op. He’s hated because he’s not very relatable and he has no empathy for anyone around him. He is the true heir of the cowl.

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