The version of Superman's son that DC fans knew is gone forever, now that Jonathan Kent has returned to Earth a changed boy--or a changed man based on the first image of the brand new Superboy. Because it sure looks like Clark Kent's son has left his childhood behind him.
Fans of the Man of Steel who missed out on the adventures of Superman: Rebirth may be surprised to learn that DC's current Superboy is actually Lois Lane and Clark Kent's son, especially since his role in the comics has recently slid out of the spotlight. That seems to have all been part of the plan, now that the return of Jonathan Kent has been revealed in Brian Michael Bendis' Superman #8, showing the Superboy fans knew has grown up... and gotten a suit of Kryptonian armor, too.
Superboy Left Earth To Train With Jor-El
When comic fans last got a glimpse of Superboy in the core Superman storyline (Jonathan Kent's adventures with Batman's son have continued in the Super Sons series) he was being whisked away into outer space by his grandfather, Jor-El. After escaping death on Krypton (surprise!) the head of the House of El decided that Clark and Lois could raise Jonathan as a human - but only HE could show him what it meant to be Kryptonian. In the process, train him to be a better Superman.
In the end it was Jonathan's choice, and the adolescent's decision to get some space from his parents, get to know his grandfather, and understand his half-Kryptonian history and powers made sense. Lois and Clark had doubts about letting a man she barely knew shape her son's life, and judging by the condition he is in when he returns, they may end up saying "I told you so." Assuming Jonathan is still the son they knew when he left...
Superman's Son Has Grown Up Fast
The cover of Superman #8 has been revealed in DC Comics' February solicitations, showing just how drastically Bendis and artists Ivan Reis and Joe Prado have overhauled the character while he's been away. Most readers who remember Jonathan as a precocious boy in an S-emblazoned jacket and cape will share Superman's own reaction: stunned amazement at the powerful, fully-charged, and Kryptonian armor-ed young man he's apparently become.
Even more interesting is the synopsis of the issue, confirming Jor-El didn't just show Jonathan the stars... he showed him WAR:
The epic secrets of Superman continue to unfold! A few months in space with his paternal grandfather Jor-El changed Jon Kent forever. With Jon now seeking help from his father, the Man of Steel must learn about the war his son and father fought together and set right the wrongs his father may have unleashed on other worlds. See what changed Superboy in such radical ways as the Unity Saga continues.
Thankfully that plot outline suggests that readers won't have to wait long to find out how, where, and what in all the mysteries of space aged Jonathan so drastically, both inside and out. Assuming he really is as teen-aged as he appears to be. Those answers will be coming when Superman #8 arrives in February... but what does this evolution of Jonathan Kent mean for the return of Conner Kent - the previous Superboy?