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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Son of Superman - 1999

Comics Weekend "Son of Superman" by Howard Chaykin, David Tischman, J.H. Williams III, and Mick Gray.

With Emperor Aquaman nowhere to be seen in this week's Flashpoint books (at least not significantly), I thought the Shrine would look at another alt-DCU Aquaman, the one that appeared in 1999's Son of Superman Elseworlds one-shot.

At a whopping 94 pages, Son of Superman is a big story, and Aquaman--as a member of the now-publicly funded JLA--doesn't play that significant a role, so I'm not going to get into all the nitty gritty of the story. Suffice it to say, in this world, young Jon Kent, son of Superman and Lois Lane, learns he has super powers like his father. For his part, Superman has been gone for many years, his whereabouts unknown.

Pete Ross and Lana Lang have started a "terrorist" organization that uses Superman's "S" shield as its symbol, in an attempt to fight back against Lex Luthor, who is now a respectable global figure and in charge of the JLA. We get our first glimpse of Aquaman and his teammates when they investigate a strike by Ross and Lang:
Howard Chaykin, whose general apathy for mainstream superheroes is well known, adds little details that chip away at the facade of these supposed perfect people, like when after a long sequence with the Kents, we catch up with the JLA, and what are they talking about? The business--literally--of being a superhero:
Eventually, the original Superman is found, held in captivity for almost two decades. At first, he is horrified at how his name and image have been used, and his son Jon eventually convinces Superman to see their side of it, especially since it was Luthor who was behind his old foe's imprisonment!

With Superman now on the "other side", the JLA has to decide what to do:
Turns out that one of the JLA is playing both sides against the middle, and it sparks a battle among the team. Aquaman bravely decides to take on Wonder Woman--which works, albeit briefly (click the pages to fully appreciate the sweet artwork):

That "Aarrggh!" is pretty much it for Aquaman in Son of Superman. After the JLA is defeated, they decide to retire to "spend more time with their families", a classic political dodge. Bruce Wayne hangs up the cowl and takes another route to changing the world: running for President. Meanwhile, young Jon Kent dons the familiar costume, bringing the world a new Superman.

I found Son of Superman quite entertaining; Howard Chaykin is never boring, even if the cynicism can get a bit thick. Part of me (the part that was inspired to start a whole website devoted to Aquaman) hates to see the Sea King portrayed this way: old, cynical, mercenary, a corporate tool. But of course, these Elseworlds stories were not always meant to comfort.

The work of J.H. Williams III (and Mick Gray) is, of course, excellent--there's scenes of quiet characterization as well as slam-bang action, and Williams excels at both. With his intricate designs, I'd love to see him take on Aquaman in some longer form than just the couple of pages he gets here.

I had never read Son of Superman until last week, it was F.O.A.M.er Brent Almond who informed me Aquaman was even in it, and was generous enough to provide the Shrine with a copy of the book. Very much appreciated, thanks Brent!


Joseph Brian Scott said...

Pete Ross and Lana Lang as terrorists? I picture Lana planting car bombs while still wearing that bow in her hair.

This is something I definitely want to read; I'm not proud of it, but watching the JLA pound each other is always fun.

Wings1295 said...

Don't ever remember this one, at all, so thanks for sharing it. Not a great Aquaman, but as you said, it is an Elseworlds issue.