Overview: Bat-Tim continues on a mission to change his future, even if he has to kill to fulfill it.
Editor’s Note: This is the second part of the Super Sons of Tomorrow crossover that takes place in many TBU titles. The story started in this week’s Superman #37 and continues in next week’s issue of Teen Titans #15.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): After getting both Bruce and Clark out of his way on Superman #37, Bat-Tim goes after Jon. His first stop is the Kents’ house, but he finds Superboy gone.
Having sneaked out to try to help the Teen Titans on a mission, Superboy gets them out of a tight spot while remaining unnoticed. With the team wondering who helped them, Damian brings Jon out of his hiding place, not having been fooled for a single moment.
They take Superboy to the Titans Tower where Robin scolds him for coming unannounced. Superboy though reminds Robin of his promise to let him join the team on one mission a month, even without him being an official team member. While the group discusses the situation, Bat-Tim invades the Tower systems.
He declares his intentions and asks Raven to show the team his memories using her powers. It is seen that, in his future, a conflict between him, Bat-Damian, and Jon as Superman will lead an unhinged Jon to unleash his powers on Metropolis, killing millions and destroying the city.
After their telepathic link breaks, Bat-Tim remotely shoots Jon with a black goo that starts covering his entire body. Kid Flash and Starfire try to find a way out of the room where Tim locked them, to no avail. In despair and losing control of his powers, Superboy pleads for Damian to help him. Not knowing what to do, Damian tells Jon to fly away, or he might end up killing everyone.
An energy ball explodes around Superboy as he takes flight, destroying the top floors of the Tower. The cloaking device Bat-Tim is wearing is compromised by the blast, allowing his own Titans team to locate him. Conner Kent, Cassie Sandsmark and Bart Allen are coming to bring him home.
Analysis: For a four-part event, Super Sons of Tomorrow is progressing at a very slow speed. After one issue of basically Bat-Tim taking down Bat-Bruce and Superman, we get another half-issue of build up. Tim takes Lois out of his way, then goes to Titans Tower, explains his entire plan – pausing when the team has something to discuss – and, only then, does he go for Jon. The problem here is not the slow-build, is the fact that the slowness has not built much.
Then there are the problems which escape Peter Tomasi’s control, like the current toxic relationship between Damian and his teammates. It is a tiresome deal, and it has not evolved ever since the beginning of Rebirth. This is, as Beast Boy says, Tim’s team first and foremost, and there was never an effort to make Damian fit in. While we saw Damian and Jon evolve from hesitant partners to best friends, the team dynamic of the Titans is solidified. This disparity in their dynamics make it so that the only real thing at stake is Jon’s life, and that is what has Damian worried. This team is already disrupted, there is not much Bat-Tim can do to make it worse.
This is proven when Jon pleads for Damian’s help as he gets engulfed by the black substance Tim shoots at him. After pages of inconsistent art, including some problems with anatomy, Benjamin delivers his most stunning panel: Jon’s eyes glowing red, almost cracking open the dark cocoon around him. Considering how important it is, this panel could have had more importance in the page layout. This is the moment Damian realizes the danger Jon is posing to everyone, including himself, and tells him to fly away.
Damian’s allegiances – and the reader’s – are toyed with in this sequence: a child desperately asking for help makes us want to reach out, the laser beams exploding out of his eyes makes us recoil in fear. To have someone with the power levels of Superman losing control due to desperation is a theme deftly explored with his legacy characters, and Tomasi knows how to explore it.
Regarding legacy characters, there are some pieces which are not yet fitting in this event. Super Sons #10 featured an Intermezzo where Bat-Damian, standing in the ashes of Gotham City, declared the Apocalypse to be back on. What we now have is Bat-Tim coming to get Superboy for destroying Metropolis. Those elements are in conflict with each other, telling two different stories altogether. The event is turning out to be much more The Young Justice of Tomorrow than Super Sons of Tomorrow, which would not be a problem in itself were it not for that Intermezzo.
Final Thoughts: After a too long build up, what Super Sons of Tomorrow delivers is not what is in its name, bringing instead another team to the forefront. While Jonathan Kent – here the protagonist – is, as usual, well portrayed, the antagonist’s tale is not built well enough for him to escape the stereotype of a monologue-loving villain.