by Spencer Irwin
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Even though they’re child heroes, writer Peter Tomasi has never hesitated to put his young protagonists, Robin and Superboy, into dangerous, even life-threatening situations. Still, even when facing down killer androids, navigating alternate dimensions, or racing to save the life of Jon’s mother, Tomasi has always managed to keep Super Sons’ tone light and playful. That’s not the case in issue 15, an adventure that feels that much more weighty and dangerous for the sudden change in tone.
The issue starts out light enough, with Lexcorp scientists joking around before discovering Kid Amazo’s escape, and Jon and Damian trading their signature banter before Kid Amazo quite literally bursts into their underwater base. From that moment on, though, Super Sons 15 is all business. Jon and Damian both nearly drown multiple times as they struggle to evade Kid and make it to the surface. Jon discovers that Kid Amazo has murdered his former host — a child — and is attempting to drain the life out of the Justice League, including his and Damian’s fathers. Most heartbreakingly, Damian lashes out when he loses Jon beneath the water, not even attempting to hide his true feelings for his best friend beneath his usual bravado.
These situations aren’t that much more severe than others the boys have faced before, but what sets them apart is how straight Tomasi plays them. It allows the gravity of the situation to really sink in, creating a scenario that feels truly dire. “Dire” isn’t a mode I’d want Super Sons to spend too much time in, but coming out of nowhere here, it hits hard.
Artist Carlo Barberi, of course, plays a vital role in this sudden influx of gravitas. Underwater is a pretty scary place when you really think about it, and Barberi absolutely leans into this effect as Damian and Jon struggle to survive at the bottom of Morrison Bay.
Even as Damian plays cocky, Barberi pulls the camera back further and further each panel to show how daunting his task truly is, how alone he and Jon are right now. That kind of isolation is scary, and chilling on a primal level.
On the next page, meanwhile, Barberi switches to straight-up horror, which is not something I ever expected from Super Sons. It’s an effective experiment, I suppose — I come to this title for the characters, but Tomasi and Barberi have drawn me into their actual plot in a way they rarely do.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?