Superman: Son of Kal-El #18, “Security” acts as both part 6 in the Kal-El Returns crossover as well as the series finale. As with most finales, there’s a lot of payoffs but this issue also goes far into setting up future developments. One of which is the origin story of a villain I hope has some staying power in Jon’s own rogues gallery.
There’s plenty of cover art to enjoy this issue as well, so let’s get to seeing it. Travis Moore and Tamra Bonvillain’s standard cover hypes the threat level of new villain Red Sin. With symbolically only one hand he’s incapacitated Clark and rendered Jon battered and bloody. Jon’s fierce look of determination easily shows he’s still got fight left in him as he rises to face his challenger. Most of Moore & Bonvillain’s covers have depicted Jon in happy, triumphant poses or scenes, so it’s interesting to have this one with Jon “on the ropes”. I like to think there’s some visual metaphor happening, being the finale issue, to show us even though Jon is down he is definitely not out.
Simone Di Meo’s variant is a fun nod to the “hero riding off into the sunset” movie trope. Their clothes still falling to the ground, Clark and Jon have taken flight at superspeed over the Kent farm. The colors used really give a warm, safe feeling of home to the piece and is relaxing to look at.
Nathan Szerdy’s variant channels Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane. Standing in a very action news anchor pose, Lois is center stage to multiple media screens covering the Kal-El Returns story. The realistic art style looks more like a photo than a drawing and masterfully conveys Lois’s no-nonsense personality.
The holiday variant is by Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair as they visit DC Comics of Christmas Past with their New 52 designs of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman. Unphased by snow, the DC Trinity face off panel ready to take on whatever comes their way. These redesigns may have seen a lot of debate when they debuted but there’s no denying Jim Lee is still a master at his craft.
Lastly is the company wide Spawn variant by Ryan Sook. Meant to promote the release of the Batman/Spawn cross company book, Ryan has Spawn teaming with Jon Kent. The black background plays well with their red capes and adds to the ambiance of them appearing to be in some sort of hellscape. Although I’m uncertain if a Superman/Spawn book is in the works, it’s fun to think about how a team-up with these two would work out.
Cian Tormey and Ruaíri Coleman tackle both pencils and inks this issue along with inker Scott Hanna and colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr. This art team continues their exceptional work in Superman: Son of Kal-El #18. They really pull out all the stops with appearances of the Justice League, Nightwing, Jimmy Olsen, and Brainiac 5 (in a flashback) this issue. There’s a lot happening and their art flows well to keep the pacing just right. Pay attention to Flash’s antics during the rebuilding of the Kent home, you won’t be disappointed.
Tom Taylor, lettered by Dave Sharpe, shows no signs of this being a final issue story. He dives into the origin motivations of new villain Red Sin, throws in some possible foreshadowing as to Jon’s changing powerset in the upcoming Lazarus Planet event, and touches on undisclosed trauma from Jon’s time being tortured by Ultraman.
This issue starts with a fun cameo of the Justice League as they help rebuild the Kent farmhouse. From there the tension rises as we learn about Jon’s new villain and watch him set his trap. On the surface, Red Sin’s power set is similar to Clark’s Metallo or Kara’s Reactron villains, capable of using red sunlight to take away a Kryptonian’s powers. Where he differs is he truly believes he’s become a superhero set to protect the world from alien invaders, specifically Jon and Clark. During his confrontation with Red Sin, we not only learn Jon’s belt is more than just a fashion accessory but also witness the benefits of Nightwing’s mentorship.
Tom Taylor has done much to set Jon apart from Clark as a different character, while clearly grasping what it means for anyone to be Superman as he has Jon demonstrate a desire to use compassion in order to have Red Sin eventually see the error of his ways. Jon’s story feels like it’s just getting started in this final issue of Superman: Son of Kal-El. It’s been a great 18 issue run and I can’t wait to see where Jon’s adventures as Superman take him in the upcoming year.