Superman: Son of Kal-El #16 “Reunion” is here and is part 2 of the Kal-El Returns crossover event.
Brilliantly written in a way that continues from Action Comics #1047 but also doesn’t leave the reader lost if you haven’t read Part 1, Superman: Son of Kal-El #16 is a touching father/son tale. Backing the crossover story up a little, this issue focuses on the day Clark returns through Jon’s perspective while also acting as an epilogue to “The Rising” arc that just finished.
Travis Moore and Tamra Bonvillain continue their standard cover run with a fantastic depiction of Jon and Clark flying over a celebratory Metropolis. It’s no small feat to draw two character likenesses in a way that shows them related and different, but this artistic team pulls it off expertly. It’s hard not to share in Clark’s obvious pride of Jon nor be affected by Jon’s infectious smile.
Ariel Colon’s variant is very Rockwell-esque in its realistic style. Father and son are simultaneously changing into Superman with the classic shirt opening move. Your eyes are instantly drawn to the bright blue and red of their suits as their civilian clothes are torn away. With their faces showing a seriousness tone of concern it’s easy to assume the job called for Supermen!
Megan Huang takes us back to the 90’s with their variant. Covering the scene with the decade’s popular Pogs game pieces, Megan showcases headshots of major DC characters as well as important players from this series. Bordered by a VHS tape, decade appropriate headphones, a cassette tape, and a nod to the cell phone design of the time, there’s also a playful nod to the famous number 52 DC has been known to obsess over. It’s a very playful cover and perfectly captures the feel of a specific era.
Artists Cian Tormey and Ruairi Coleman along with colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr, do a great job paying attention to detail as the story starts in flashback when Clark was sporting a beard and his black “stealth” suit of Jon’s youth. The weight of Clark’s absence is clearly displayed on Jon and Lois’s face as they go about their morning routine. So much has happened since this series began and the artwork this issue really conveys the emotional impact those events are beginning to have. The story leans heavily into Jon’s internal monologue and the art team goes all out to show us what everyone is feeling.
There’s something about an epilogue issue where the action takes more of a back seat while the story deals with the cognitive and emotional fallout of whatever major event that occurred. Tom Taylor, lettered by Dave Sharpe, delivers on that something with Superman: Son of Kal-El #16. We follow Jon on what seems to be a typical day as he reflects on missing his father and carrying on his legacy. As he goes about his day, we get more set-up for Metallo’s future involvement as a bomb meant to help free him instead unleashes Ultra-Humanite.
The way Taylor has Jon handle his father’s rogues gallery is so amusing as Jon completely dismisses their inflated egos and goes about his business. That being said, the business at hand was Jon realising his father’s heartbeat was nearby and races to see Clark “faster than a speeding bullet”. A whole page is allotted for us to feel the emotional importance of these two reuniting before the segue into the last page tease of a brewing sinister plot.
As announced earlier, this particular series will see it’s end with issue 18 but thus far shows no signs of winding down. This may be my favorite issue of the series thus far as we get to take a well needed breath before things ramp up again within the overall ‘Return of Kal-El’ story.