What happened to Superman's son, Jonathan Kent, in the comics? The Arrowverse is preparing to take Tyler Hoechlin's Man of Steel in a direction that's never been seen before on either the big or small screen. Supergirl season 4 saw Superman and his partner Lois Lane head to the Kryptonian city of Kandor, with Lois pregnant with a half-Kryptonian child. Now reports claim a TV show centered upon Superman and Lois Lane is on its way.
It's expected to focus on the couple's lives as new parents, with the logline saying that it will follow "the world’s most famous Super Hero and comic books’ most famous journalist" as they "deal with all the stress, pressures and complexities that come with being working parents in today’s society."
The idea may be new to TV viewers, but it's actually rooted in the comics themselves. Since 2015, comic readers have been enjoying the adventures of Jonathan Samuel Kent, the son of Clark and Lois, who's gradually transformed into DC's most important superhero.
The Origin of Jonathan Kent
Jonathan Kent was introduced as a consequence of the Multiversal "Convergence" event. This story saw Brainiac force the heroes of different Earths to go head-to-head, and it reintroduced the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths Superman. This Superman's Lois Lane was coming to the end of her pregnancy, and she actually gave birth to Jonathan as the action built to a head. She gave birth in the Batcave of the Flashpoint reality.
Spinning out of the events of Convergence, DC brought these versions of Superman, Lois, and Jonathan Kent into the mainstream comic book continuity. They used a clever narrative trick, though, to reveal that they'd secretly been living in the present timeline for years. Lois and Clark concentrated on bringing up their son, relieved that this world already had another Superman. The years passed, and Jonathan Kent grew up into a child. In an interview with ComicBook.com, writer Dan Jurgens explained that his focus was really on Jonathan's relationship with his parents as he learned the truth about who they were. "Lots of people might expect Jon to be something like his dad’s younger self," he noted, "but it would be a bit of a mistake. His parents are not Jonathan and Martha Kent. It’s Lois and Clark. They’re different people with different ways of parenting." Rather than just do a rinse-and-repeat of Clark, Jurgens developed Jonathan Kent as a character in his own right.
Rise of the Super Sons
Of course, it was only a matter of time before Jonathan Kent began to develop super-powers of his own. They first began to manifest in subtle ways - like the time he slammed a baseball harder than he meant to, and broke a window. But they came in handy when Lois Lane attempted to expose Intergang, and they successfully tracked her down. Jonathan's powers helped them to escape a burning building, and Lois and Clark were forced to tell him the truth at last.
In 2016, DC's "Rebirth" initiative merged the two versions of Superman, and Jonathan Kent became a regular secondary character in the various Superman titles. The family dynamic gave the Superman books a freshness they'd never had before, with Clark attempting to train his son in the use of his rapidly-developing powers. They soon discovered that, because of his unique human and Kryptonian heritage, Superboy's abilities are still adapting. As a result, there's a degree of inconsistency in them that makes him a little more vulnerable than his father; according to Batman, though, genetic analysis suggested he could ultimately become even more powerful than a standard Kryptonian.
It didn't take long for DC Comics to see team-up potential between the new Superboy and Damian Wayne, the son of Batman and the latest teenager to take up the Robin identity. The two first crossed paths in an event appropriately called "In The Name Of The Father," and the dynamic proved to be popular. The result was an excellent book called Super Sons, initially helmed by writer Peter J. Tomasi. Damian attempted to keep tabs on Superboy at first for his dad, but they gradually became close friends.
Brian Bendis Reinvented Jonathan Kent
Legendary comic book writer Brian Bendis joined DC in November 2017, and he took charge of the Superman franchise. Bendis prefers writing teenage characters to children, and as a result he used a time travel plot to accelerate Jonathan Kent's ageing. Clark and Lois' kid returned from a mission to space as a young adult, his powers more stable than ever before, completely changing the Kent family dynamic.
Surprisingly, Bendis transformed Superboy into DC's most important hero. Superman had discovered an ancient conspiracy behind the destruction of Krypton, but the revelation had brought the galaxy to the brink of all-out war. Fortunately, inspired by the example of the United Nations, Jonathan suggested an alternative; that the races of the galaxy should band together into the United Planets. It seemed like something of a naive solution, but the case was bolstered by the arrival of the Legion of Super Heroes, who had traveled back from the 31st century to celebrate this as one of the most important events in galactic history. They even offered Jonathan a place with the Legion in the future, which he ultimately accepted - only to be followed by Damian Wayne as well.
Superboy's comic book story has been somewhat accelerated, first by the conceit of having Clark and Lois live in the post-Crisis world for years in secret, and then by time travel. This means that he hasn't really developed in a consistent way. Hopefully the Arrowverse won't use this kind of plot device to similar effect, and instead will allow viewers the time to get to know Superman's child a bit better. Of course, right now it's unclear whether or not the Arrowverse will hew closely to the comics in any case. It's entirely conceivable that the Superman and Lois Lane series could introduce a brand new character, a Daughter of Steel rather than a Super Son. Presumably it won't be long till viewers find out.