NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for “Superman” #6
While the Man of Steel may be known the world around as the most iconic superhero ever created, and in many ways, the pinnacle of goodness and heroism that all heroes aspire to, there are many who believe that perfection comes at a price: that try as writers might, Superman is just plain boring. And with only a handful of issues down, it’s already looking like the DC Comics Rebirth is putting that false assumption squarely in its crosshairs.
Not only was the age of the pre-Rebirth New 52 brought to a close by the death of one Superman, but was given a replacement in the form of the post-Crisis Superman, having returned from nothingness with his wife and son along with him. Next came a rematch with Doomsday, a run-in with this new universe’s version of The Eradicator, and finally, the birth of DC’s brand new Superboy.
His identity is no surprise to fans and readers, but the moment Jonathan Kent a.k.a. “the son of Superman” first inherits the title of ‘Superboy’ is no less important. Where he goes from here… that’s up to his mom and dad.
The Birth & Life of Jonathan Kent (So Far)
In case the above references to Superman’s death, or the “Rebirth” of the Post-Crisis Superman left you more confused than the simple idea that Clark Kent is now a father, we’ll catch you up to speed as quickly and simply as possibly. Unfortunately, that means making mention of DC’s recent “Convergence” event, which is as inherently complicated and strange as comic stories get. But the point is this: as The Flash rewrote the entire DC Universe after messing with the past (along with some villainous interference), creating the current ‘New 52’ continuity, the old characters now written out of existence or replaced didn’t actually disappear.
Not Superman or Lois Lane, anyway. Those two joined a collection of characters similarly spared after their worlds were overwritten, erased, or changed. Aside from the causes, villains, and missions that followed, two things were important: that Lois and Clark finally got some time together, and that Lois was nine months pregnant.
And so Superman saved the day once more, and Lois successfully gave birth to Jonathan Samuel Kent (named for both of his grandfathers). His reward? The chance to return to this ‘New 52’ as a family, and let this younger version of the Justice League cover superheroics as the Kents– sorry, the ‘Whites’ raised their son in peace. And for ten years, it worked.
That decade is actually covered in the miniseries “Superman: Lois & Clark” by writer Dan Jurgens, with a (bearded) Superman watching the world view their Superman with suspicion – and helping out wherever was safe to do so. And as Lois Lane set out to bring down a massive criminal society under a pseudonym, Jonathan Kent was free to live as a normal kid, idolizing this Earth’s top superhero, Superman. The fact that his father was an older and, in the eyes of many fans, even better version of the hero completely lost to him.
But once Intergang set out to kill the investigative journalist causing them trouble, the family’s cover was blown. Jonathan learned that not only was his father a flying, invincible, superstrong hero, but he too was able to walk through fire without being hurt. Still, the son of Superman was predictably resilient, and when the younger Superman truly died in combat, “Superman: Rebirth” began, with Clark and Lois deciding that fate had put out the call for a Superman – and father or no, he’d have to answer it (becoming even cooler in his son’s eyes in the process).
Superman And Son
Anyone trying to establish an explicit timeline of the “Rebirth” as it pertains to Clark and Jonathan may have a hard time, since they’re starring in not one, but two books. And while Jonathan has had some shining moments in “Action Comics,” his own development has formed the main plot of “Superman” proper. For starters, being taken along on a mission or two by his father to learn the ropes of being a costumed, superpowered superhero – including using his newly-emerging Heat Vision to help him bring down an enemy.
But just a few weeks into his own superpower puberty, Jonathan has found himself pursued by both Doomsday and the Eradicator (two lethal beings with a serious hate-on for Kryptonians, or half-Kryptonians). In the case of the Eradicator, who hoped to “purify” his DNA of a human side in the pages of “Superman,” that meant being chased to the Moon. A trip that began not long after Krypto the Superdog returned to the spotlight – briefly – to throw himself in harm’s way to protect Jonathan.
That loss led to new determination for Jonathan, who decided he’d had enough of waiting on the sidelines.
Superboy is Born
The fight that followed truly was a family affair, with Superman being consumed by the Eradicator and communing with the countless Kryptonian souls that preceded him, leaving Lois Lane in power armor to defend her son. A son that, thanks to a hand-me-down Superman sweater, had unofficially taken his father’s family crest as his own – fusing the fallen Krypto’s cape to his collar to complete the ensemble.
Obviously the combined might of the Kent family won the day (and returned Krypto to the land of the living once more). But with his first superhero battle under his belt, Jonathan soon realizes that living a normal life – while secretly a superpowered kid who’s fought alien menaces on The Moon – can be a mixed blessing. And having revealed himself very publicly, it isn’t just his father’s life that’s gotten a bit more complicated.
Since the presence of a super-kid alongside the Man of Steel has raised some eyebrows among the public, Jonathan’s secret identity gets a horn-rimmed glasses upgrade – and an introduction that Superman should have made a long time ago.
Keep in mind: this version of the Justice League has just seen the Superman who rose in prominence alongside them killed, with a man identical to him in power and appearance – only older – arriving without explanation. Suspicions are unavoidable, which means introducing his young son to Batman and Wonder Woman probably is a wise move – at least, judging by Diana’s smile (and Bruce’s scowl).
There are still questions that need to be answered, and the introduction of Jonathan as ‘Superboy’ is made alongside the reassurance that Superman (and his son) are here to help. For the characters, that means a more concrete Justice League, and potentially more details concerning Clark, Lois, and Jonathan’s trip through time and space.
For readers, it means the new Superboy has been officially introduced, paving the way for Jonathan to pair up with Damien Wayne for a starring role in DC’s “Super Sons.” That, and a far simpler, but far more meaningful bond within the Superman Family.
Superman #6 is available now.